A few days ago I went to a local retail outlet to use up a gift card that was given to me for Christmas. After many hours (I was childless this particular day – Thanks hubby!) of browsing and trying on clothes I wound up with a couple of kitchen pots and perfume. As I neared the register I saw a situation that didn’t seem “right”. There was a woman kneeling down on the floor and her face/eyes were red where she had obviously been crying. As my brain processed this information I saw a small child in a stroller in front of her that looked … dead. The kid looked straight up dead. I froze and just stared at him.
It’s a very unfamiliar and strange sight to see what looks like a dead child in a retail store on a “normal” day.
I continued to walk near the register to carry on with my evening and purchase my items (everyone else seemed to continue on with their journey as well) and it truly wasn’t any of my business so I bypassed the mother on the floor and made it to the cashier. The only thing I could say was, “Is he okay?”, the cashier shrugged in a very “I have no clue” kind of way and told me my total for my purchase.
As I was standing at the register I continued to stare at the little boy and thought to myself, what the heck are we doing?!?! Why are we all just carrying on like everything is normal??? This is not normal! Just then the paramedics showed up and I could over hear them talking to the mom. The little boy’s name was Isaac and he was three years old. Apparently he had a seizure. As I was leaving I heard one of the paramedics say to him, “Hey Isaac, hey buddy. It’s okay, buddy.” I could see the child’s head moving so I knew he was alive (thank God!)!
As I left the store I walked to my car … numb.
I got in my car, shut the door, put my face in my hands and started crying and praying out to God.
I thanked God that the little boy was alive and I immediately thought about how that woman was at the store with her 3 year old son, just a normal day, and then something unexpected interrupted her life. At that moment nothing else mattered… at all! Any thing that she once thought mattered or spent a lot of time on just didn’t matter. Her weight and body image – didn’t matter, her advancement in her career – didn’t matter, how clean her house is – didn’t matter. All the crazy little things we can sometimes obsess over just didn’t matter anymore. Just another normal day turned into a nightmare.
I wanted to share this story because I think we all can learn something from staring death in the face. We obsess over a lot of things that frankly just don’t matter in the end. Don’t get me wrong because I’m all about healthy living and exercise. I actually KNOW they aid in recovering from anxiety and depression and preventing further anxiety and depression – so that’s all good. I also think job promotions are amazing! There is nothing like seeing your hard work pay off with a nice title and a nice salary. I also believe in being organized. I don’t know about you but I function a lot better when things are clean, neat, and in their place. I’m saying if we obsess more over these little things in life than we do Jesus we are missing the point.
I’m guilty! A couple of years ago as I was walking out of anxiety and depression I changed my food and exercise completely. After a couple of weeks I started to feel good – really good! I started writing out exercise plans and menus for the week. I started prepping food and spending HOURS on food preparation alone. I kept a journal of when was the last time I ate, what I ate, and what I needed to eat next. I added weight lifting and it was so much fun! I started seeing my body transform completely. I felt empowered and believe it or not … sexy! I loved the way my body started to look. I would flex my biceps in front of my husband and say, “That’s right! I’m a beast!” It was so much fun. The problem was that I became obsessed. It takes hard work and dedication to make changes in your body and that’s all good but what it shouldn’t do is become your idol. I spent more time on my body and preparation for body transformation than I did with The Lord. Although I was feeling good I started to lose my guard over my mind. Thankfully conviction set me straight but I’m telling you this so you can know that I get it and I relate to you.
Balance. We need to balance the things in our life. God must ALWAYS be first in our lives.
Over the past week Sway (my youngest child) has been dealing with some congestion. Last night it got pretty rough so we took him to the Emergency Room just to be safe. He seemed to keep having trouble catching his breath so we just wanted to have a doctor check him out. As we were preparing to go to the ER I could feel myself starting to panic. I hate when something is wrong with one of my kids. My face and chest turned bright red from the blood flow and heightened blood pressure. I could mentally feel myself spiraling into a dark place. Sway didn’t even have a fever and he was still in good spirits. He actually seemed completely normal besides a hoarse cry and congestion in his sinuses. I was freaking out over the fact that we were taking him to the ER and WHAT IF something was really wrong with him? As my mind was running in its own made up direction (fear), I stopped, took a breath, and took the thoughts captive. Sometimes it doesn’t feel like your mind has calmed down, in fact a lot of times it keeps racing down its own path of fear and the unknown. It’s an anxiety attack waiting to happen but if you can (and you can) dig deep and take the thoughts captive, stand firm in the truth that you know and believe, you’ll grab hold of enough strength and courage to trust God for the next moment.
The enemy loves panic. When we panic we lose our marbles! We don’t think clearly and we hurt ourselves or someone else. My husband had this Survival App on his phone once and I remember reading about if you are lost in the woods the most important thing is to stay calm. You would think the most important thing would be to find water, build a fire, find shelter … something like that but it’s actually to stay calm and don’t panic. The person who panics is the one who makes irrational decisions and gets himself killed or someone else killed.
When I used to experience panic attacks while I was undergoing anxiety and depression (read my story here: http://poynterjourney.wordpress.com/2011/06/18/hello-world/) my immediate thought was that I needed to run away FAST! If I was in a car, stuck in traffic I literally thought about getting out of my car and running away. There was a need to run and get away as quick as possible. Fight or flight – we run from what is causing us danger but when it’s your mind where do you go?!!? The scripture tells us to take every thought captive and make it obedient to Christ. (2 Corinthians 10:5)
Start practicing taking your thoughts captive. Start with simple things and go from there. When you hear the thought “you look ugly today.”, take that thought captive by saying “No! That’s a lie. I do not look ugly today.” and start thinking about what you’re thinking about. Our minds are filled with junk and we listen – start taking it captive.
It’s hard to take thoughts captive and make them obedient to Christ if you don’t know Jesus. How do you know and BELIEVE the Truth if you don’t know what scripture means and you don’t know who Jesus is? Too often we are saying we believe in God and then don’t know the first thing about Him. Do you trust someone you don’t know? I know I don’t! I don’t let strangers speak into my life (unless they confirm a Word from God or affirm me) but I don’t trust people I don’t know simply because I don’t know them… so why would I trust God if I don’t know Him? You don’t!
We make it a lot more difficult than what it is. My advice, start with going to church and reading a Bible that you understand. The New International Version is a great version. Start in John and see where God leads you from there. Get to know your Savior and it will become easier to make your thoughts line up with Him and to trust and believe Him.
We can’t keep running off of the fuel of this world. It’s temporary and it’s tiring. This world can’t offer you any hope only Jesus can give you hope and hope does not disappoint (Romans 5:5).
What can start as a normal day can wind up being the worst day of our lives. I’m not saying you have to hold it together with a fake smile and say, “Oh, God is good and I’m not going to be upset.” That’s phony! It’s okay to be sad and down but we can’t stay there! We can’t lose our focus when bad things hit us. We can’t lose our hope when God seems to be taking TOO long to answer our prayer. We put on our armor, we dig our heels in, and we stand firm knowing that God is faithful even when we feel like we can’t stand any longer.
Receive God’s grace for today… it’s sufficient. Don’t get too lost in tomorrow because God’s grace hasn’t met you at tomorrow it has only met you at today.
Press forward. You are loved beyond measure!