I’m facing fear and contemplating its use in my life. We’ve chosen a life that exists 6 hours from a hospital, reliable health center, and airport in a 3rd world countryside. Why did we choose this life? We have a calling and this is where we belong. But, alongside us are our 4 children. These children were brought into our world. We made this choice and it never really bothered us much until last month.
A situation came up where we needed a little medical help at a late hour. Thank goodness the medical emergency was not for our children but for our puppy who was in great pain. The first stop was at the vet at 11:30 that night. It was closed and I knocked on the door until the vet’s wife and his 2 small children met me. She explained that the vet was out-of-town and they had no medications to help me. Next stop was a private clinic. They were open but no-one was inside except for a couple of patients on their beds by the door. We hollered but no one answered. We even looked behind the counter for medicines to help treat the dog thinking we would leave the money at the counter but couldn’t find anything. Therefore, we headed to the last place that would have medicine which was the county health center. Lights were on but again no-one responded. We knocked on all the doors and finally a very tired looking man stepped out. We explained our situation and he handed us 2 syringes but said he had no medicines on hand. We returned home and our puppy died that night.
As my husband and I returned to bed, we laid in silence. I knew we were thinking the same thing but neither of us wanted to say it. Finally getting much-needed sleep that night, we returned to our busy schedules but our house was quiet for the next few days. We didn’t feel like talking. Finally, Marc broke the silence and said it “what if that was one of our children?”
Isolation and fear gripped both of us. I was reminded that fear is not just a feeling. It permeates deep like vice grips on the chest refusing to pass on. Darkness creeped over my thoughts in a way that leaves me feeling vulnerable, isolated, and helpless and often dangles on.
That’s what fear does, it grips and stays beyond my desire. Many people choose to numb it, ignore it, or knee jerk reaction towards a false feeling of safety. I’ve been tempted to go down these paths too. But not this time. I’ve faced fear enough to know its best to take the ride and wait it out.
I’ve chosen to accept fear and believe that I can use this feeling for good. I realize what fear can do for me and my purpose in life. It can derail me or I can use it to strengthen me. Therefore, I sit and remain calm, patient, and pray for clarity and wisdom. It’s in the silence that I decided fear can do these 4 things:
Fear can motivate a realistic strategy and warning for the future.
Since our puppy incident, we decided to make solid plans. Gathering the phone numbers of Khmer friends who could come be with our kids in an emergency. Gather the passports and money in a safe easy to access location. Assure that the kids know what to do in an emergency and that we have on hand what we need for emergency treatment. These step come from a realization of our vulnerability.
The feeling of fear helps us realize how tangible and alive our faith is.
It constantly reminds us of our lack of control. No matter how much we are tempted to put a safety net around those we love, we all realize at sometime or another that we have little control of other human beings. Whether in the safest box or life in the jungles, life has risks. Therefore, I choose faith. Faith acknowledges my vulnerability in light of a sovereign loving Father whose watchful eye never looses track of me; of us. Just as He has given me purpose, He will do so for my family as well. It’s beautiful, its good, not pain-free, maybe pain-full but never alone!
Fear quiets the soul.
Fear often fills me with desire to be quiet and alone. It reminds me that everyday is a wonderful gift. I can live and experience life to the fullest each day not knowing what tomorrow holds. It’s important for me to accept and face fear so that I can remain in a place where others benefit from my gifts and skills. Again, I never know how many days I’ll have to give to the people around me today. So, I choose to live it all.
Overcoming Fear = Freedom.
Without fear, I would never know the beautiful upbeat dance of joy mingled with freedom. That’s when we can live the abundant life to our potential, God’s potential. This is the lightweight life with few burdens on my back. Therefore, fear can come and go and I will choose the path leading to everything I hoped to accomplish in life with my husband and children by my side.
I’m awkward with silence. You know the 7 minute rule followed by the “natural” pause in conversations. I’ve always tried to fill that natural pause with something. For the first time, I wasn’t able to fill the pause. Its like my brain couldn’t pull anything out. Therefore, many times friends and I sat in quiet. What I came to realize was that this silence was calming, reassuring as those friends chose to stay not because of fun, hyper, entertaining, and funny Ann but because of love, loyalty.
Then I realized that was God at this time in my life. His silence angered me. It brought fear to me. It was uncomfortable. It was what I needed but not what I wanted from Him. I didn’t value silence. Not until silence brought healing. An amazing thing happened during my bout with depression and anxiety. Out of desperation, I choose a week to spend most of each day in silence. I took a blanket and bottle of water into a banana grove and sat and waited. My motive was to hear God speak. You know, one of those shining bright light moments that sweep away the negative feelings I felt. But no memorable conversation or revelation came. But, for the first time in months, I was calm. I slept. I couldn’t figure out why. I now realize that my brain was healing in the quiet.
But, I felt quiet was not an option. I had dreams to fulfill, good ones and 4 kids to take care of. I couldn’t sit any longer. I didn’t realize that quiet would help me accomplish those dreams. So I tried to press on, fight, ignore, push aside, which probably extended my healing process.
Then there was family who listened to me for hours. Friends who sat with me quietly. A husband who held me in silence. Thank you for knowing that advice was not what I needed but your peace, love, acceptance, patience, kindness, and loyalty; that’s what I needed. From you and from God.
Here is a poem for my friends, Creator, and family who remained by my side (I know my brothers are probably rolling their eyes, stop it!). (Taken from lyrics “Dreams” by Cranberries.)
All our lives are changing everyday in every possible way.
All of our dreams are never quite as they seem.
It’s come over me before, but now the feeling is growing even more.
Because it came from you.
Then my eyes are open to see the person fallen here is me.
A different way to be.
We want more, its impossible to ignore.
They will come true, impossible not to do.
And now I’ll say it openly, You have my heart so don’t hurt me.
You’re what I couldn’t find. An amazing mind, understanding, kind.
You’re everything to me.
Oh, our lives are changing everyday. Every possible way.
All of my dreams are never quite as it seems.
Cause you’re a dream to me.
“Do to others what you’d have them do to you.” Jesus
How has this lesson changed me?
The younger me would often sit and pretend to listen to others but my mind was elsewhere most often on what I wanted to say next. I was quick to throw out advice, a verse of correction, a twinge of judgement.
Nowadays, I feel little reason to use my mouth. I believe all people are in the process of change. Love and acceptance flow from me in my thoughts towards others. I can take in others experience and perspective without a sense of judgement, arrogance, as if I know better. I’m free from feeling as if I have to change anybody but me. God’s job, not mine. I can sit quietly and love.
Nowadays, I continue accomplishing my dreams. A friend recently shared with me a wise example she had read in a book. It said that life is like parallel train tracks and we are the train. One track is sorrow and the other is joy. We are constantly moving forward on one track or the other. Often switching back and forth unexpectedly.
I guess what I’m saying is – accomplish your dreams. There is nothing in your way except you. Whichever track you’re on right now, carry on. You never know when a switchback might lie ahead.
To see all 4 articles I’ve written about my battle with depression, click here:
Comments, shares, responses, criticisms always welcome!
Don’t get me wrong, traveling with my wonderful husband and/or 4 kids is always a delight for me. But, there is much to be said of the benefits of traveling alone. Whether it be a business trip or chosen vacation, traveling solo has many rewards.
There are many well respected leaders who have enjoyed traveling alone to find inspiration including Michael Hyatt, Bill Gate, J.K. Rowling, and J.R.R. Tolkien.
Often I find myself traveling alone and have changed these times into opportunities of personal growth and de-stress from the apprehension I felt in the past. I meet many people who do not like traveling alone and view these trips with fear, apprehension, and in return exhausted. Today we are going to talk about the perks of traveling alone and why you should book your ticket today.
4 Benefits Of Traveling Alone
1. Quiet and healthy boredom
Sometimes uncomfortable but necessary for emotional intelligence. We’ve read enough these days to know that we all need to find more quiet and boredom to allow our minds to be healthy. I choose to believe and embrace this time even when I don’t like it. It’s like taking on a challenge that I can be confident will benefit me for the future. Interestingly, some of my best writing, ideas for work, and plans for my family will pop during these times.
The advantages to hotel rooms is that you control the air temperature, the place with a bed that brings you comfort, and a bath to rest weary bodies. Being alone can increase this rest. If sleep while traveling is a problem for you, you are not alone. I recommend picking up this book:
Some main points Arianna Huffington makes that can help the travel are:
“We are in the midst of a sleep deprivation culture and crisis.” Realizing this fact in itself can help in that we need more sleep and the idea that this is lazy needs to change. “Yet the myth persists that we can do our jobs just as well on four or five hours of sleep as we can on seven or eight,” she stresses, calling it a modern delusion. Traveling alone can give one flexibility in their schedule. Making plans later in the morning or cutting evening events short allows much needed rest.
Embrace middle of the night awakenings as your mind desires quiet conversation with God, yourself, or silence that you need. Don’t get angry when you wake at night but calmly sit quietly focusing on the positives of your day. We’ve busied ourselves so much with devices that our brains are begging for the quiet awake time we need.
Why does the Huffington Post have nap rooms around their office? Arianna explains what a 30 minute nap after lunch can do for emotional intelligence and creativity. At times, an hour or 2 is needed for the deep sleep our bodies crave. Napping increases productivity. Traveling gives opportunity for naps including airplane rides and in between meetings in hotel rooms. Basically, find your love with sleep. Find routines that you enjoy. Take away the dread by embracing it and make it a priority when you travel.
We often joke about “me time!” But isn’t it true? Taking time to travel and sightsee alone means that you get to pick the activities or non activities of the day. I find this is hard for many travelers as sometimes the spouse or a friend is the one who chooses the restaurant or activity for the day. Be intentional so that the trip revives you mentally. There are several apps that can take the work out of your hands including Yelp, Urbanspoon, and Google will give options near you.
4. Hitting the Restart Button!
There are times in our life when we need a restart. Times of depression, looking for change but don’t know how, in between jobs, grief, or breaks in relationships are common reasons why people choose to travel solo. To give personal reflection and spiritual renewal. If you are considering hitting the beach on your own, check out these blogs as they will help you choose the best locations, safest places, and preparation.
Caution on traveling solo.
Caution should be considered spiritually, emotionally, and mentally. Let’s mention the elephant in the room. Many good marriages ruined and other mistakes happen during times of solo travel and there are reasons for this such as loneliness and obscurity that makes one vulnerable. I protect myself by focusing my out time during the day and wrapping things up before the nightlife begins. I choose to stay in parts of a city that are not known for an active nightlife.
One question I keep in mind every time I travel alone is “What are my weaknesses?” I know that I am not that organized and I tend to rush. I have to be extra careful to keep track of money, passports, credit cards, and other valuables right next to my body and not in my hand. This has saved me many times. Please don’t not travel out of fear. Is it risky? Yes, but so are the best things in life!
Prepare Yourself For The Mental Break.
Do you have a trip coming up and want it to be impactful on you physically, spiritually, mentally? 2 rules: keep it simple and be flexible.
Here are the things you will find in my bag: Uplifting Book, music, and Bible. Keeping it simple.
Change in your mindset is everything! Your next business trip may be the 20th one you’ve had this year and you may be dreading it. My advice to you is to OWN IT! Take charge of your time, slow things down so the trip is not a rush, plan several things that you will look forward to. Enjoy, rest, discover the world, discover yourself!
Hurt People, hurt people.
Healed People, heal people.
I knew I needed to heal so that I could rid the darkness in my mind, thoughts, and heart from me and not be prickly like a porcupine to others. I prayed this day would come and honestly wasn’t sure it would. In the midst of pain, I couldn’t imagine ever being able to say that I was grateful for the pain. I knew I needed to heal but felt helpless in doing anything about my condition.
I lived in a jungle, mostly isolated from others except from my family, and distant from modern healthcare systems that so many depend on these days for these issues. The first question you may wonder is how did I heal? To answer that, read Part 1 of this blog: Hi! I’m A Christian and I Suffered From Depression.
I use to want to go back in history and change the events that hurt me but now I wouldn’t change it for anything. I like the new me. It stripped me bare of my ugly hidden side like a diamond polished by a jeweler. I discovered who I was, the good and the bad. But most importantly, I have gained wisdom that comes from perseverance. I want to share this wisdom with you today.
What I learned through depression and anxiety and encouragement for those still in their dark tunnel.
For some humor on this topic don’t miss the previous blog: What Not To Say To A Person Suffering From Depression.
Lets have some fun and maybe learn a bit in the mean time. I’ve been writing so serious lately and I’m too much fun to keep it up too long. We should always be able to laugh at ourselves. How do we find healing if we can’t break a smile? Join me for a bit of a laugh and comments will be closed just in case I offend anyone:) Here it is!
What Advice Not To Give To A Depressed Person
I hope you found the humor in this. To be real, depression is hard for one to understand. Often the person experiencing it can’t explain it to you because they don’t understand it either. It’s not sadness, laziness, or having a pity party. It’s an exhausting emotional battle that the sufferer wants to turn off if at all possible. I do hope the above laughs help wash us from “foot in the mouth response” that people don’t need to hear!
Now, to end this well.
3 Ways To Help A Person Who Is Suffering From Depression!
Prayer for your friend and sharing encouraging verses does wonders. But never let that take place of time together with them.
If you’d like to hear what wisdom was gained from my experience with depression than click here: 46 Ways Depression Made Me A Better Person
If you missed my real story of struggles with depression, than click here:
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