It’s one of those evenings again. I have some free time, and was excited about catching up with chores around the house. As I glanced around at my surroundings, that familiar sinking feeling came back. Just looking at the piles of dirty dishes in the sink had sucked all of the energy out of me. “What’s the use? The clutter is never going away.” I felt defeated even before I began.
This is a hard topic to write about because no one likes to face or think about our own anger or negativity. I grew up around family members who had a tendency to have angry outbursts. Part of me still feels very traumatized by these episodes. Never did I think that I could also lose control like them. I understand that feeling angry itself is not a sin. Even Jesus was angry on many occasions. However, I am still responsible for my actions and words when I’m angry. A while back, there were a few occasions where I lost control in anger and said some hurtful things to loved ones. Someone finally confronted me about my unacceptable behavior. It was then I had to acknowledge to myself about the deep frustrations I’ve been experiencing.
I’ve been thinking about what I’ve learned on managing anxiety. In the process, it became clear how deeply personal my journey has been. I wish there’s an “easy button” to banish anxiety for good, but that’s just not the case. However, changing my mindset and learning life skills in the right areas have helped me cope with stress much better. I know everyone has their unique set of challenges. All I can do is share my experiences in hope that it may be encouraging and helpful to those who may have similar struggles like me. Here, I will give a quick overview, highlighting the key elements that made major differences in my life. Eventually, I hope to discuss and explain these areas in more detail.
I had a pretty hectic schedule these last few weeks. We patched up an unexpected leaky roof, filed taxes, and celebrated Chinese New Year (which is kind of like Christmas for Chinese families except kids get “lucky money” from relatives instead of gifts from Santa.) Only now can I get back to my normal routine. Feeling drained, I made sure to take things easy the week after the festivities to rest up. Usually, a few free afternoons are all I need to recover and feel rested. However, last night, when our internet had a slight hiccup, I went into full-on panic mode again. The sudden wave of anxiety shocked me. The week of rest I had before didn’t seem to matter much. Emotionally, I felt like I had not rested at all.
I wrestle with anxiety often. I’m not sure if it’s an Asian thing, but many of my girlfriends also have similar struggles. When I was young, when my mom came home late from work, I would jump to the worst scenario possible and couldn’t shake it off. It’s weird. I remember having a rather carefree childhood. Somewhere along the way, this fearful mindset snuck in.
The clock just struck midnight, and it is now officially the last day of 2017. In the past, I took the last days of the year to meditate and think about the future directions. This year, however, I’m doing something different. I’ve been thinking about what I’ve learned and how I’ve changed in the last twelve months.
Do you struggle with knowing what and how to pray in the midst of differing cultural values and world views? Sometimes, the shortest prayer is the most effective prayer.
I admit, I have a love / hate relationship with social media. I refresh my FB feeds constantly. I’m drawn to the latest top search items, the latest “trending” topics. Boy, it is not good for my emotional well being.
This morning, I found myself at that place again – feeling emotionally overwhelmed, and confused with so many conflicting thoughts shouting through my head. I wanted to… needed to pray and release some of that inner tension. In the midst of the chaos, all I could say was “Yes, Lord.”
Yes, Lord. We say yes.
Yes, Lord. We agree with You.
Yes, Lord. You alone are good and just.
Yes, Lord. You alone are righteous and kind.
We agree with You.
I agree with You.
I went to a wedding banquet recently. The invitation came as a surprise. Our friend, the bride, has been single for over fifteen years. She was very content with her life. Being a caretaker of an elderly parent and working a fulltime job, dating and marriage was not on the top of her priority list. Imagine my surprise when she told me she was engaged. They decided to have a private ceremony, and we were introduced to the groom for the first time at the banquet. Knowing my friend, I was very curious to learn more about this man who swept her off her feet in a matter of months. As we all got seated at the banquet, the couple got up to address everyone, and the groom began to tell their story.
Last week was the fall equinox, which marked the beginning of the fall season. The afternoon sun already started to take on an orange glow. I lived in the Pacific Northwest for a few years, and the seasonal changes there are especially prominent. As soon as October hits, all of the leaves turned into shades of red and started to fall. There and then I understood why the fall season was aptly named “fall.” The aroma of apple cider and cinnamon filled the air. Pumpkins appeared on every porch. I loved how the seasons were so clearly defined. It gave me a clear message that summer was over. It’s time to enjoy the apple harvest and get ready for winter.
Similarly, we also have seasons in our spiritual lives. There are “spring” seasons where new relationships and opportunities blossom. There are “winter” seasons where all outward growths seem to stop. However, even though we are very familiar with seasonal changes in the natural, most of us are not aware of how to adapt to the seasonal changes in the spiritual.
Recently, a relative passed away. He lived a long life, over 100 years old. Yet, when I went to his service, it still felt bittersweet. He wasn’t a close relative. Nevertheless, there’s something about a person’s passing that is sobering since it heightens one’s sense of mortality. Perhaps I knew the family too well, I ended up paying very close attention to my grieving friends more than the service itself. The dead was at peace, but the living was not.