“If 2020 was tough on you, 2020 didn’t create your situation, it exposed it.”
Perplexed as I listened to Steve Cuss, pastor and anxiety coach, he mused, “2020 gave us a gift.” His words churning my sluggish soul, he answered my question intuitively. What gifts—could anything good come from 2020?!
2020 gave us the opportunity to uncover underlying issues, evaluate purpose, and recognize anxiety—due to past wounds, present circumstances or future concerns.
It often takes a crisis to pry our hands open in surrender—the Pandemic performed the job perfectly.
But for me, I experienced 2 years prior to the Pandemic draining reserves of perseverance and hope. Realizing I wasn’t handling everyday stresses well, tension headaches, sleep deprivation and difficulty coping became my new normal. Causing me to rethink my purpose, I needed to get quiet and listen.
“Reflective thinking turns experience into insight.” John C. Maxwell
With encouragement from my counselor, I continued writing in my journal.
“I can shake off everything as I write; my sorrows disappear, my courage is reborn.” Anne Frank
Painful at times, but always soul-nourishing, insecurities, lies, anxieties and fears were exposed, eventually revealing arrows—clues of direction. One such arrow emerged as anxiety’s culprit; although there is no right or wrong answer, this one might resonate with you: Purpose.
Divine purpose defines us on a soul level.
Even animals possess purpose.
- Rodents forage and feed.
- Raptors circle and search.
- Reptiles sunbathe and conserve.
Part of our DNA, when we deny or misconstrue our purpose, anxiety advances.
So how do we uncover these gifts from 2020?
If we want to find our story, we connect with God’s story, leading to a greater story. Jeff Henderson – paraphrased
Anxiety collided with His power and purpose; I’m slowly rediscovering my story in His. Along the journey, He’s revealing tools to manage this menacing enemy—
- Evaluate and simplify
- Set goals
First, evaluate and simplify.
Hurry is not a disordered schedule; it’s a disordered heart. John Ortberg
Hurry creates dis-ease in our lives and those closest to us.
What is most anxiety-producing for me? My family? I evaluated my schedule, job, relationships and distractions like social media, comparison and Netflix.
Is home-life chaotic?
Is work hijacking me away from priority relationships?
Have I said yes too often? Is it time to scale back and slow down?
Are there friends steering me away, not towards my divine purpose?
Arrows slowly began emerging as these questions pried anxiety’s fingers from my captive soul.
Next, set goals.
Goal-setting facilitates direction and purpose, reducing fractured focus and distraction.
They can be simple:
- Care for my family.
- Work with excellence.
Or detailed, addressing anxiety-causing issues and time-wasters such as:
- When anxiety absconds precious sleep, it’s time to push back bedtime—movies are my nemesis!
- “How did I allow them to hijack my peace again?” my mind twisted with frustration. I need boundaries for unhealthy relationships.
- “We’ve got to stay united through this,” discord and turmoil beyond our control the past 2 years. We need weekly date nights more than ever.
- My soul disquieted after every social media expedition, it’s time for limits.
I have to know my direction before I can help my family find theirs, so setting personal monthly and quarterly goals first is important.
Finally, planning: But why would planning reduce stress? Now I have all these things to get done!
Planning decreases distractibility, reducing the tendency to be pulled in a hundred directions—from task to task—never accomplishing anything meaningful.
Planning balances weaknesses and facilitates purpose, keeping us focused on what matters.
My favorite planners:
Using a planner curbs time wasting and increases productivity. Though I’m not rigid—I prioritize my short to-do list.
So, I’m anxiety-free now, right? Far from it! I still leave work frazzled, experience anxious nights and tearful days.
But, my counselor wisely informed me, “If the frequency, intensity and duration of anxiety is decreasing, you’re growing.” We can do this!
It’s a life-long journey with Jesus towards transformation, which He promises when we walk with Him. (2 Cor.3:18) So grab your planner, a cup of coffee and evaluate, set goals and plan with Jesus.
Meet back here next week for more anxiety busters! I’m in this with you, dear one.