I am not a stress out type person. My part 'yellow' personality usually keeps me rather laid back and happy no matter what troubles come my way. This has been a blessing many times in my life. But, I can feel stress, and sometimes I do. Here is my story of how I conquered the worse case of stress I have had.
Stress And Anxiety Symptoms
Each person's stress is different. Some people feel a tightness or pain in the neck. Some people can't think. Others get headaches, get angry, or withdraw from people. For me it happens like this. First, I feel a knot in my stomach. After a minute or two the knot travels to my chest. My chest feels tight and even gets electrical sensations in it. My shoulders can tense up too. I call this state my panic attack state. Usually when I get to these symptoms of panic attack something has gotten a hold of my thoughts and is controlling my mind to some degree too. It is important to note that I am aware that if I ever feel this panic, or stress, I know that my mind is being lied to.
Fears And Faith
I carry quite a load for a woman of five foot five inches tall. Although I'm sure that most hard working mommies feel the same way. There are always more things to do than there is time for. That is just how life is; especially if we are going about doing good each day. There is always more good to do.
Most days I have no idea that I carry the burden I carry. In fact, most days I feel no burden at all. I just do what I can and try to never waste time on pointless things.
But, after about a month of traveling with my family to teach self-government in different places around the world I was attacked with stress. Yes, it was an actual attack, and I knew it from the beginning. But, just because I knew it was an attack doesn't mean I won the battle quickly.
After being so full of joy and the Spirit of love, our family found itself in an airport in New York City heading for home. While in the airport I decided to look up finances and get caught up on all the email I missed. As I looked at the discouraging financial report my heart sank. Then I tried to handle problems with the website knowing that it needed to be re-built drastically. This would take more money than I had. At this point my chest started tightening. I then started to look at the articles to be written and the to do list for when we got home. At this point I was in a full panic.
I kept my panic feelings to myself so as not to concern my husband on our flight home. I assumed that as soon as I got relaxed on the plane I could make the stress feelings leave me. I was able to talk myself out of some of the discomfort, but the burden was still there.
At this point I was mad. I don't ever get stressed like this. I was having signs of anxiety. “What is happening?” I thought.
As I assessed my situation I realized I was afraid. Afraid of not having enough money to do what I knew I needed to do to fix my website, improve the way Teaching Self-Government does business, and prepare for a family mission to speak about self-government in churches in England. I had fear.
Honestly, this feeling was kind of new for me. It was heavy. I had started so many things in motion that seemed to hinge on me and money. I had employees now to help move the business forward. This was also a huge burden. I had to care for their families too.
I remember seeing my husband walk into a room during this time while I was stressing. and feeling immense gratitude for him. My husband is a small business owner. He owns a plumbing company and has employed many people over the years. He has felt the burden of trying to take care of people working for him a lot. At that moment the magnitude of my husband's constant burden and his cheerful disposition really inspired me. He is a man of faith. This stressful moment in my life gave me deep appreciation for my courageous husband.
How To Chill Out
After a week of fighting these destroying lies in a thought battle I finally freed myself. The thought attacks came multiple times per day telling me things like, “You won't have enough money to pay these people who are helping you.” “You are not going to make it back to England to help the people there who are waiting for family freedom. How could you? You don't have any money.” Or the ever present message, “People are going to be so disappointed in you.”
“Nicholeen,” David said, “You are listening to fear. Don't fear. I am not afraid to be helping with your business.”
“Don't worry Nicholeen.” said Pennie, my site assistant. “God is leading you, me and all of us.”
I believed these great people. I knew they were speaking truth and I knew that some lying voice was influencing me to stress. I prayed earnestly for answers to my fears and problems, and asked the Lord to ease my pains. Each time I prayed it would help for a while. But, within minutes sometimes of when I got up off my knees the thought attack would start again.
SherLynne, who is another valuable member of the Teaching Self-Government team, said to me, “Nicholeen, you have to fight the bad thoughts. Replace those bad thoughts with good thoughts. Good and bad can't occupy the same place at the same time.”
Of course she was right. Hadn't I always hummed church hymns when bad thoughts or temptations came my way?
In fact, didn't I know that the way to correct a problem was to identify the negative and then replace it with the positive and even practice the positive? Of course. This was one of the principles I live by when I parent my children. Why wouldn't it work for me too?
It only took three times to chase the bad thoughts away. Three times I was attacked by negative thoughts which would constrict my chest, and three times I would say the truth. I said things like, “I will be able to pay all these people doing things for Teaching Self-Government because God has plans for this business. It is His business, not mine. Teaching Self-Government will strengthen families all over the world and free people from emotional bondage and thought attacks just like these. And, we will have the money we need to do everything God has planned.”
Not only did I talk back to the negative voices who were trying to discourage my mission, I prayed in a different way and focused on the most healing thing I know of; connecting with people.
I prayed that the Lord would take my burden. I prayed that I would be able to control my thoughts, instead of having them control me. I prayed that I would have faith in the God to direct the things outside of my control, like money and mission, just as I had always done. Then there was peace.
The final test of my faith was to see if I could allow myself to focus on connecting with people deeply instead of focusing on overcoming problems. I knew that focusing on overcoming problems suggested that I didn't trust in the power of the Lord to carry my burden. I also knew that thoughts like that would invite back the attacking thoughts.
So, I went back to what has always made my life joyful and easy going. I played games, read stories, went for walks and baked bread with the children. We lived, we laughed, we loved. My heart was finally healed.
Who Are We?
We are a spirit and a body. The spirit can control the body and the body can control the spirit. The mind is the puppet of each. We only have self-government if the spirit is leading the mind and body.
We can't ever forget that. If we do, we could lose control of ourselves. Or, at the very least we would be confused a lot of the time because of the constant internal battle.
How grateful I am that I was given this experience to remind me how to stop the lies and live by faith and truth.