I remember the exact moment anxiety came into my life. Much the same way anger came into my life much later and with much more conviction than I would have thought (this similarity is what led to the tangent/confession/thoughts on anger in the previous post).
A new level of anxiety came into my life this week. Tuesday, to be exact. In hindsight, it was actually kind of hilarious. I was wound so tightly, like a too-tight guitar string, ready to take an eye out with a loud TWANG at the slightest brush. Before we even left the house for Madeline's eye appointment I said out loud to myself (first sign of danger), while pacing frantically around the kitchen (second sign of danger), "I need chocolate immediately (trifecta)."
What? You don't have directions? We have to go print them at the church? That was my responsibility?
What, it's time to leave? What, you're not ready Madeline? You mean to tell me you're two-years-old and didn't bathe yourself, dress yourself, feed yourself, and pack your own diaper bag???
What, there's traffic in Atlanta? Since when? What, Madeline doesn't LOVE her carseat? What, there's no time for lunch????
What? We've been married all this time and you don't even know the EXACT type of granola bar I'm craving from the gas station in this exact moment? UGH!
You mean Madeline doesn't love having her eyes dialated? And she isn't thrilled to wear the cheapo sunglasses from the opthalmologist the WHOLE WAY HOME?
What, we have less than a day left in Georgia and we still haven't seen how many people?
When Dan asked me what I wanted for dinner I walked into the next room, curled up into the fetal position in a chair in the corner, and started crying. No exaggeration, you can ask him.
We've had a very busy three weeks. Last month I sat down with a calendar and tried to organize it all very strategically, so that Madeline always had at least three days between "events." Because when toddlers cross the line of "too much," it's like the sixth circle of hell. Whining, screaming and crying - and nothing to be done. It's not their fault, it was just too much. There is no toy, no treat, no incentive that can console them. Also no threat of punishment or violence. So you're dealing with this kid, and THEN there's the mixture of guilt and empathy; sadness and frustration; "stop whining!" and "I should have known better;" and a healthy dose of "I need to go smash some dishes right now." And then you think, "This was sooo not worth it."
Not that I'm speaking from experience or anything...
So I planned our travel in such a way that it would not be too much for Madeline. What I gave no thought to was, is this too much for me?
I did not occur to me that I am an introvert. That an evening at home in my pajamas playing Super Mario on our old school Nintendo sounds like a really wonderful date to me. That Dan and Madeline could go on vacation for two weeks and I would not run out of things to do while they were gone. That since I like to sit and process things before I talk about them - maybe I should have allowed myself more than 24 hours between getting home from a week in Georgia and hosting a Girls Night. And more than 12 hours between Girls Night and Madeline's transition meeting. Yeah, that would have been helpful to remember.
So back to Tuesday. I was curled up in the chair, hoping that if I ignored dinner, our hunger would vanish and I would not be forced to make a decision. Dan, my patient husband and ever the problem-solver, was saying, "Why don't we go visit so-and-so right now? That way we can be done and relax the rest of the night?"
And I was saying, "No, it's too much for Madeline. She just got back from an entire day at the doctor, and a long car ride. She needs to rest, it's too much."
At which point, we both looked down at Madeline, who was SINGING and toting blocks happily around the living room. She looked up at us, realized she had our attention, and giggled.
Okay, so maybe I was projecting a little bit. What I really meant to say was, "It's too much for me. I just got back from an entire day at the doctor, and a long car ride. I need to rest."
It became abundantly clear; I realized that my whole person had been hijacked and devastated by anxiety (which I should have realized after the chocolate incident 12 hours earlier). I grinned at Dan, sheepishly, as if to say "I realize I'm being ridiculous, thank you for loving me anyway," and began to pray a mixture of song lyrics and scripture:
"Breathe peace, breathe your peace on us, that we might breathe You deep...You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in You....Do not be anxious about anything...the peace of God which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds....Take from our souls the strain and stress, and let our ordered lives confess the beauty of Your peace....Do not worry about tomorrow, who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?"
Yes, let my over-scheduled life and my tightly-wound heart confess the beauty of Your peace.
Anne Lamott says that her pastor says, "Peace is joy at rest."
I so absolutely love that - such a fitting way to describe the peace that "surpasses all understanding."
It feels as full as joy, and as refreshing as rest.
"Your voice has stilled the raging storms The wind and waves bow down before Your still small voice brings hope to all Who wait on You, we'll wait for You
To lead us to the place where You'll restore our souls And all our earthly strivings come to cease
Take from our souls the strain and stress And let our ordered lives confess The beauty of Your peace The beauty of Your peace
Bright skies will soon be overhead We'll enter in to Heaven's rest There'll be no death, there'll be no pain The things of old will pass away
You'll lead us to the place where You'll restore our souls And all our earthly strivings come to cease"
["The Beauty Of Your Peace," Tim Hughes]
"Calmer than the sky Far away so blue Land of living God Grant your peace on earth
We can feel you move And cannot stay the same The winds are blowing strong God of heaven come
(chorus) Breathe peace Breathe your peace on us So we might breathe you deep Breathe peace Breathe your peace on us Land of the living God
If we are in the way Move us to the side God forgive our wrongs Rest your hands on us
All the world is yours Let us not forget It was you who bore the cross God of comfort breathe (chorus)"
["Peace," Robbie Seay Band]
Be anxious for nothing, breathe peace.