Anxiety. I had one of those mornings where I felt stuck in a cloud of anxious thought. It was like the room was hazy and someone had poisoned my brain during the night. I literally had to speak myself back into existence. At first, it did not work. I was lying there, unable to remove myself from the mattress. It was weird. I have not had a day like this in a long time. I constantly have thoughts in my head of what I need to do, but rarely do they bog me down.
I tried to use my Spiritual Disciplines to help. The ones I learned studying Theology in undergrad. I focused on my breathing, focused breathing in Christ’s love, and breathing out my anxiety. Nothing happened. I still felt stuck. As all of this was happening prior to 8 a.m, I let myself fall back asleep. With it being Spring Break, I decided it would be okay to choose to continue resting. But even this did not work. I continued to lay there stuck. I could not even fall back asleep, nor could I rip myself from the bed. So, I did what any good millennial does- *Netflix* – I watched The Office.
Watching Michael Scott flounder around in ignorance allowed me to fall back asleep for about 45 minutes. I felt a little lighter of heart and head when I woke up (again). This time the haze had begun to lift. I put on one of my favorite Podcasts and the day was underway. After listening to about 20 minutes of my Podcast, I realized that I was yet to put a foot on the floor today. So, I stepped out the haze for a moment and brushed my teeth. It is amazing to me what one act of self-care can do for my spirit.
It was almost as though, by mustering the courage to brush my teeth, I knew that the Haze was not going to win the day from me. I was going to be a functional human today. I returned to the mattress, but not to sleep. I do my Morning Prayers in bed. I used to try and do them off the top of my head, but that does not work for me. I have downloaded an App from the book of Common Prayer to guide my mornings. It has been a game changer for me. I no longer have to try and control my ADD infested brain to give God my best. Rather, I follow the prayer that is laid out and then can bring my petitions to God as well.
This book is simple, but in its simplicity, it breathes life into my sometimes empty lungs. I used to feel guilt and anxiety about prayer because I could not seem to do it well. I would want to pray. I would begin to pray, but more often than not my brain would follow a random rabbit trail toward something entirely unhelpful. That would result in my frustration. Frustration aimed at myself and at God. Frustration, not unlike the Haze I felt this morning that would more often cripple me than free me. The frustration would build as I thought about Jesus’ words that his “yoke is easy and his burden is light.”
With that in mind, I would wonder why it never feels easy or light. It feels heavy and burdensome. Why could I not feel easy or light? Why did I wake up feeling like there was an anvil weighing me down? Does that mean I am not a true follower of Jesus?
These questions used to haunt me regularly.
Today was the first time in a while that I have felt that anvil on my chest. Today was my first Wile E Coyote experience in months.
Today was a sign of growth for me. When I was younger and the Haze would weigh down on me, I would be out of commission for a while. I remember being a 6th-grade student and getting behind on an English assignment. It was not a huge assignment, and it should not have been a huge deal. But I was procrastinating because I did not know where to start on it. I started feeling sick to my stomach. I started missing school. It got to the point where my mom took me to the Doctor. The Pediatrician could find nothing wrong. So we were sent to a specialist. I had to put on one of those gowns with no back, lay on a table, and drink the thickest most disgusting drink ever so they could see if my system was working fine. Everything was fine. I finally got to the point where I broke down and told my mom what was happening. I was so stressed and anxious about this assignment that was late because I had no idea how to do it.
I was embarrassed by my inability to do the assignment. I was more embarrassed by my lack of courage to ask for help. I was so scared to tell my mom I needed help that the anxiety weighed down on my to the point that my physical body was telling me I was sick.
I am still horrible at asking for help. I still internalize everything. I still have to wrestle with my anxious thoughts daily.
The odd part of today was that there was nothing that happened. I am not behind on my 6th-grade English assignment. I am on Spring Break and have been getting everything done which I told myself I would. I am open with my wife (I have to write it out and read it to her), but I am learning to express myself. Despite all of that, I woke up today and the Haze was back, the anvil was on my chest. My anxious mind was prevailing.
Now that I have stepped beyond the Haze for today, I no longer mark it with frustration. I no longer feel angry at God or myself. I am learning to accept it as part of who I am. I am learning creative and new ways to combat this Haze. That is a good thing. Maybe that is part of the yoke being Easy and Light that Jesus talked about. Maybe Jesus’ words aren’t about what I always assumed. Maybe he did not intend them to be an immediate fix for each person’s issues. Rather, it is the process of learning to accept his yoke, even on days when the anvil surprisingly appears on your chest.
What are some creative ways you pull yourself out of the Haze? When do you feel the haze settling in around you? How do you talk with God about it? Do you talk with God about it? Comment a way that you choose an alternative way to the Haze.
I hope you are having a great day.
Grace and Peace,
P.S. This will be my final day writing this week. I am not sure what my new rhythm will look like with school being back in session next week. I hope to post at least twice a week. Probably Tuesday’s and Friday’s. I would also love to hear from you. Feel free to comment on here or reach out via email (firstname.lastname@example.org). I won’t be back on Social Media (FB, Twitter, IG) until Easter.