October 2, 2012
It's not the Quinoa
I took the photo above (with the help of a friend, obviously) for the 7 Days project/group that I'm a part of over on Flickr, and in the past couple of days it's become more and more symbolic of what (I think) is going on in my life right now.
The specific intersection, and what those words mean to me: Ponder scripture.
Me, holding on (for dear life?).
Glancing upwards, and on unsteady ground (you can't tell from the photo, but my balance was precarious, especially in those heels).
The STOP sign.
Confused yet? Allow me to back up...
During the end of rehearsals and the opening and run of the last show that I did, I started noticing that I was experiencing slight heart flutters, or palpitations. I have a heart rate testing app on my phone (ah, technology!), and I found that my heart rate wasn't particularly high or low; in fact, it was quite normal. So I changed my description of this feeling to say "I'm just very aware of my heartbeat lately." From those in whom I confided this slight worry, I got the following responses:
"You're pregnant, I bet." (Nope. Unless I just don't know it, but odds are against it currently.)
"You're just stressed out." (Well, always...at least a little. But really, things are going quite well for me!)
"You're not getting enough sleep." (Fact)
But it mysteriously went away over a long weekend spent feeling fairly relaxed and content. The following Monday, I had some quinoa with my lunch (it's a recent obsession), and almost immediately I felt "very aware of my heartbeat" again. OH OKAY IT'S THE QUINOA! I thought to myself. So I did some googling, found that some food allergies/aversions can cause your chest to feel tight/constricted because it makes the lungs swell. That seemed logical. So I decided to cut out the quinoa for a week or so, confident that would be the end of the heart flutters.
Cue a death in the family a week later (expected, but still very very sad), a high volume of work and deadlines at the office, everyday annoyances, and a lack of time to deal with everything the way it probably needs to be dealt with, and OH HEY IT'S BACK.
It's not the quinoa.
Look, I hate admitting that I'm having a hard time. I'm terrified of sounding negative or whiny. Who wants to post that they're just having a hard time dealing with regular life, when you know that post is going to show up right after a post about a 7-year-old kicking cancer's ass, or a woman undergoing chemo who still pours her LIFE into rescuing animals?? Put on your big girl panties and deal with it, Mandy, right?
Yeah, but...nobody expects me to be able to handle everything alone. I wasn't created to be alone. God doesn't want or expect me to handle these things alone.
"Therefore encourage one another and build each other up." 1 Thessalonians 5:11
So I posted on Facebook yesterday that I needed prayers (or, from those who don't choose to pray, pictures of puppies) because I was having a hard time not flying into a rage and/or bursting into tears. You know, straws & camels backs, that whole thing... My friends came through for me and then some.
I have amazing friends and a husband to whom I can confess (without feeling silly) that I feel like I'm under a spiritual attack. Work is hard -- but manageable. Christine is gone -- but I have faith that I will see her again in Heaven. The choices I've made recently to better myself and my life mean that I am being prepared to fight on the Lord's team, and the Enemy doesn't like that. Not. One. Bit.
So he (who does not deserve the capital "h") attacks where my insecurities lie. Am I being a good friend? A good wife? Am I encouraging my husband? Do my efforts to sound positive just come across as selfish and full of crap? Do my friends really like hanging out with me? Am I talented, or do I just think I am? Are my efforts to implement new processes at work selfish, or do I truly want to help the greater good? Did I tell Christine I loved her enough? What if she never knew? What if something happened to my spouse at such a young age?
(Gee, don't tell me you don't wanna pitch a tent inside MY brain lately, huh?)
I see email previews and my heart races. I see "Hey honey, I don't mean to be...." and I fill it in with "...rude, but, I'm really upset that you've __________ or not done _________." I get a work email that says "I just feel like I have to tell you....." and I fill it in with "...you're really not ______ enough lately." I have dreams that I've been cast in a show and everyone is prepared but me; and I get chastised publicly by a director.
It's not the quinoa.
And I need to be confident that it's okay and normal and beautifully, tragically human to feel this way. And I'm encouraged and expected to confess and ask for help. No, I'm not dying (any more than most of us are every day). I'm healthy and I have the things I need. But I need to learn to acknowledge that my feelings and fears are there and that they are valid, and then stop allowing them to control me.
"You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You." Isaiah 26:3
So if you have a minute and don't mind...I'd love the prayers. And if you made it through this entire post, go get yourself a cookie. You earned it!