The Pause That Terrifies

Overall, I’m continuing to make progress on the postpartum anxiety and OCD front. I’ve had problems with anxiety for a long time (though never to this extent), so I knew from the beginning not to expect a linear recovery and to be happy with a predominately upward trend. I just never expected recovery to take so long or for the inevitable dips to be so deep. James turned ten months old a couple days ago and I can’t believe that I’m still not over this. I’m hard on myself a lot; I get frustrated with myself a lot. I’ve always prized the rational mind and its ability to demystify itself: if I’m feeling bad, it’s because I’m doing/thinking this thing or that thing wrong, so if I change that thing, I should feel better, right?

Well. Apparently not always.  

Night before last I was reading the first chapter of 1 Corinthians and came to verses 19-20, and God was like, “Hey, you. Listen up.” (Not an audible voice, in case you’re concerned – more like a poke in the ribs.)

For it is written: I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.
Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?

Ouch. That’s not very nice, God.

But then I started thinking about it. The problem isn’t in being wise or being intelligent; Proverbs is full of admonitions to be thoughtful, prudent, careful, reflective. The problem is in making an idol of it. An idol is a false god; it’s something that we put our faith and worth in rather than in the true God. And most of the time, our idols aren’t golden calves – they’re within us. Intelligence. Authority. Wealth. Approval. Competence, even. God was saying, “Hey, I know you’re smart. But you can’t think yourself out of this. Put your faith where it belongs – in Me.”

Believe me, I know it’s a hard pill to swallow. Intelligence has been my golden calf for a long time. When you’re a girl and you’re an inch shy of six feet tall by eighth grade, hey, you gotta have something to be proud of. But I should have shed that as I grew up. Instead, it became the god of my life.

So, point taken. Ok then, I prayed, what should I do? How can I help myself get over this faster?

I love that God is so real with me, even when I wish He’d coddle me and feed me nice mushy scriptures like “Be still and know” or “My banner over you is love.” But I guess He knows that I’m an action-oriented person and although I appreciate sweet words, they don’t always help me because they don’t give me something to DO.

“Take five minutes every day when you get home and just rest,” was His answer.

The really funny part is that Andrew has tried multiple times to get me to do this, and I always brushed it off because – duh – I am Very Smart and know the Best Thing to Do. Instead, I come home and hit the chores and the to-do list, and I literally do not sit down until I fall into bed in utter exhaustion. I’m not bragging – that’s not healthy. It’s burning me out and impeding my progress.

Oh, God’s exquisite sense of irony. (Side note: I could have saved myself a lot of trouble by just listening to my husband – you know, as wives are told to do in the Bible…but I’m still working through that one, y’all. That’s another post.)

So I’ve been trying to relax for five minutes every day before flying around with the Lysol cleanup spray in one hand, the laundry detergent in the other, and the bottle brush between my teeth, and IT. IS. HARD. For the first couple minutes, all of my muscles are tense and my brain is furious. Do you know everything we could be doing right now?! it screeches. I sit curled forward and scowling, a white-knuckled raisin. But then, gradually, I start to relax and notice the things that are happening around me, and I start becoming a part of them instead of living in my whirring head. I haven’t mastered it yet, but it’s nice. This morning before I left for work, I sat holding my sleeping baby for ten minutes instead of dumping him in his Pack n Play and attacking the spiderwebs in the ceiling corners.

It’s not much, but it’s a start.

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