What’s more important: people or image.

Having gone through a major life change as I have, I felt challenged to write about something which tends to be overlooked, not spoken about or simply ignored. Those of us that have gone through serious dark times can relate to the feeling of being judged or misunderstood. I felt challenged to write about the topic ‘Christian’. Yes Christian! The word we associate to church, bible or religion.
Don’t get freaked out! I am not writing against the bible, church or the Christian.
Having been involved and attended church for decades I am speaking about something I believe should be said. It is personal to me. It has affected me. Not many would understand unless they had gone through an experience which would take them to places breaking apart small minded thinking and judgements of other people.
The fact of the matter is that I was married to a man that claimed to be a Christian. Without going into all the details of how I was mistreated, the purpose of writing about a topic such as this is the hope it will encourage others who may be in the middle of OR have gone through a similar struggle. Deep down I would hope that people who are quick to judge and live in a world too small would get a glimpse into reality rather than resort to the typical Christian phrases or bible verses blinded to ‘the real issues’ in life.
Personally, I believe what the bible talks about and I believe there is a God. Having experienced situations for myself I could never deny that God exists. Unfortunately, there are people who choose to use the bible to control others. It may be an individual or the leadership of a church. These people grab parts of the bible and use it to manipulate, control and attempt to scare the hell out of people.
The trouble is that often these people believe wholeheartedly that they are doing the right thing? Are they misunderstanding the bible? Where does this all come from?
Since my life changed over a year and half ago I have not gotten to the point in which I desire to go to church. I have tried a few times earlier when I first got to Canberra however hearing all the typical Christian phrases, messages and watching all the typical routine within a church doesn’t appeal to me. Sometimes it can feel a little like a rehearsed show. Do people really benefit from clichés?
At this point in my life I just want what is REAL and GENUINE. I have found that listening to people’s real-life battles in the place I work has been like therapy for myself. People going through real issues are usually open and genuine. They have nothing left to hide. They don’t have an image to uphold in front of others. When I have the privilege to listen to a person’s dark time I relate to them. Everything within me stops for that moment and takes in what this person is pouring out. I genuinely listen. I don’t have all the answers and they don’t expect me too. I don’t have an agenda or motive behind why I am listening, I just genuinely care about people.
Why? in the darkest hours of a person’s life is the Christian person often such a hindrance. Throwing judgemental words at the hurting person. The person who doesn’t need anymore hurt!
The fact that I currently don’t attend church does that mean I don’t believe in God? Or the bible?
The way I am living out my beliefs may look different to others. Isn’t it about the heart? Your motives and intentions? Your behaviour?
I simply cannot fathom that a God who is talked about as a loving heavenly father would be so nasty as to banish a person from his love if they were not attending a church on a regular basis. I believe God is sooooo much bigger than that. Perhaps us humans like to contain God into a very small space.
The amount of pressure often put on a Christian is another topic altogether. That if you follow all these steps daily you will be closer to God:
1. Read bible daily
2. Pray daily
3. Attend church weekly
4. Attend a bible study
5. Attend a ladies meeting
6. Attend a small group
7. Evangelise your neighbourhood and the world
All sounds good and great and involves a lot of DOING but what about who you are as a person?
A person’s beliefs don’t make them a loving person. You can attend every session under the sun, running from one group to another and ignore your family, mistreating them worse than your worst enemy. All in the belief that without DOING all of the above you will fall short of what it is to be a Christian!!!! Failing to recognise that the way you treat others should be right up there on the priority list.
I’m thankful that I have been able to see life from a different perspective. I’m so much happier and content without all of the unnecessary pressure to perform or keep up an image.
It took me along time to come out of an unhealthy relationship involving a lot of control which included emotional and spiritual abuse. The bible was often used to manipulate and scare me. Sadly, this is an all too common occurrence. This experience has changed me and my thinking for the better. You could say that it busted through my small thinking and my judgements of other people.
It also made me aware of how easily we can get mislead and controlled if we don’t use our god given brains. At the end of the day all that matters is that you live life in a way which leaves you free to be yourself! You know who you are, there is no need to keep striving towards an image someone else has established somewhere back there ←
→ move forward and don’t be controlled by others. Every human has a god given right to be themselves, we all have a different history, future and purpose.

We don’t need to be copies of others.

 

 

 

 

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Anxiety is the pits!

Over the years I have had people say they feel a sense of calm around me or that I portray being calm. Often that statement has surprised me given how much I’ve battled with anxiety due to high levels of stress. It makes sense that people wouldn’t see what’s going on inside me as I have learnt how to interact with others regardless of any internal situation I might be feeling at any given moment.

There was a time in which worry and anxiety interfered on a daily basis. At times when it was really bad I struggled to leave the house for fear of having a panic attack. I was anxious about what was going to happen to me when I was away from the comfort of my home. Home was the place that I retreated to and built as my safe place. Time and again when I was out running errands or buying groceries, anxiety was my shopping companion. Anxiety liked to dictate how I was going to feel whilst walking through the busy shopping mall. On very bad days when anxiety was waiting to pounce I would get my shopping done quick smart so as I could get out of crowded places. I often felt as though people around me could see my struggle as it was so strong, powerful and scary. On many occasions I felt as though I was going to collapse when waiting in a queue. It felt hard to breathe which then resulted in feeling dizzy and shaky. The fear of making a scene in front of other shoppers almost made the anxiety worse. I knew that if I could get myself home then eventually the anxiety would settle and I would be safe again.

Anxiety really is the pits!!!

The battle with anxiety started after a very intense season of stressful circumstances when I was in my mid-twenties. I had gone through stressful events many times over previously however anxiety only really hit me later. I don’t think our bodies are made to cope with too much stress on a regular basis. We often hear about good stress and bad stress. The good stress gets us motivated to get things done however the bad stress sends us into a flight or fight mode. It is inbuilt so as we can respond to dangerous and threatening situations immediately. For example this inbuilt flight/fight switch would go off if you were walking across the road and suddenly a car came towards you out of nowhere. Your body would get you responding as quickly as possible to get you out of the way to prevent serious harm.

The truth is that most situations are not dangerous (such as myself walking through a crowded shopping mall) yet panic attacks happen as a result of the inbuilt flight or fight switch that triggers off at the wrong times. So your body kicks in with adrenaline telling it to start fighting or running away. This is when you feel all sorts of different symptoms in your body, from tingling shaky hands to difficulty breathing. It is like a surge or a rush of intense panic.  As you stand there experiencing all of these symptoms in your body knowing full where that  there is no real dangerous situation you then feel as though you are going to die as why else would you feel like this? In books panic attacks are often described as a feeling impending doom!

panic-attacks

How do we avoid the bad stress which causes so much anxiety?

It took me years to figure out the cause of a lot of my stress despite the fact that it should have been obvious. One of the biggest issues that I had was keeping emotions bottled up. I didn’t find it easy to talk about them. These bottled up emotions were usually a result of an argument with my ex. I wasn’t aware how much unhealthy interactions were affecting me as it was usually on a subconscious level. Consciously I was aware that we were having serious issues which I was always trying to resolve with my ex and in the back of my mind I wondered why the (resolving part) often made me feel worse.

Most people know that relationships have arguments and tension. This is normal!!! Little did I understand that what is normal was not my normal? What I was experiencing was very different. It was so subtle and difficult to recognise which made it impossible for me to truly understand. This is where the topic of emotional abuse is introduced for the first time on my blog page.

It isn’t easy to write about emotional abuse for fear of being seen as the bad person. People that have been emotionally abused would understand this issue, the issue of always blaming oneself for everything. In the relationship it was all too easy for me to continue believing that it was always my fault when things went wrong. That if I would just try hard enough things would be better. That perhaps if I wasn’t so sensitive to how I was being treated then things would be ok. That I should just keep quiet and leave things as they are. The trouble was that keeping things quiet may have caused fewer waves for a time yet it produced anxiety.

Anxiety was always present.

When we are in a relationship with someone who is unstable emotionally and creates crazy circumstances to live through it can result in anxiety together with depression. All of your senses are heightened and at a level that is not healthy. You may see things with your eyes or feel things that are wrong yet your trapped in the situation believing it’s your entire fault.

When we hear about domestic violence everyone knows that the person doing the hitting is the bad person. In more subtle forms of abuse such as emotional manipulation the true culprit hides behind lies and games. It isn’t visible or tangible physically which makes it so hard to see clearly. The abuser leaves you feeling as though the problem is YOU. They don’t take responsibility for their actions. They don’t feel your pain. It is always about them winning and gaining control and power.

While I am no longer in that relationship, thank heavens, I’m working on myself with the help of a counsellor to bring the heightened anxiety level right back down. This will take time of course considering how many years I lived in that state of threat. I suppose this blog is not so much about all of the details on emotional abuse but rather a thought provoking piece to help others recognise what areas of their lives might be causing the bad type of stress that can lead to excessive anxiety.

Feel free to add any comments about your experience with anxiety.