Relationships

Anxiety, Panic, OCD, PSTD, Social Phobia

Introduction

Anxiety Disorders affect about 40 million American adults age 18 years and older (about 18%) in a given year,1 causing them to be filled with fearfulness and uncertainty. Unlike the relatively mild, brief anxiety caused by a stressful event (such as speaking in public or a first date), anxiety disorders last at least 6 months and can get worse if they are not treated. Anxiety disorders commonly occur along with other mental or physical illnesses, including alcohol or substance abuse, which may mask anxiety symptoms or make them worse. In some cases, these other illnesses need to be treated before a person will respond to treatment for the anxiety disorder.

The Unbelieving Spouse Who Wants A Divorce

If your spouse leaves the marriage it can be a devastating time. Sometimes they may want to get a divorce and bring papers for you to sign. But God says we are not to divorce an unbelieving spouse. In marriage, even if only one spouse is a believer, God says the marriage is sanctified and set apart for His purpose. According to the state you are divorced, but according to God you are still married.

If any brother has a wife who is not a believer and she is willing to live with him, he must not divorce her. And if a woman has a husband who is a believer and he is willing to live with her, she must not divorce him. For the unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified through her believing husband. 1 Corinthians 7:12-14 NIV

God's ideal is for couples to stay together and try and make the marriage work. The believing spouse should try and bring the wayward spouse to Jesus Christ. Since God does regard your marriage as sanctified by the presence of just one believing spouse, the believing spouse should do what they can to help the unbelieving spouse come into the light and accept Christ.

Trusting In God For Your Marriage

Who are you trusting in when things go wrong in your marriage? Are you trusting in self, or perhaps you go running to family and friends, explaining your side of the story? Some of us go running to therapists, counselors, divorce lawyers, and strangers on the street. But we seldom run to God.

Many of the people we go running to in times of marital troubles aren’t equipped in giving us proper advice and guidance. Most of them have had divorces themselves! How can someone fix our marital wounds when they can’t fix their own?

Power In Discovering Your Audience

Coming from a theater background, I'm no stranger to an audience.

"All the world's a stage... And one man in his time plays many parts..."

In William Shakespeare's play, "As You Like It," Act II Scene VII, purpose-filled life is compared to that of a theatre stage.

How much more does that apply for those of us recovering from addiction, disorder or abuse?

Besides my theater background, I also have an eating disorder history as well. In college, I battled both anorexia and bulimia.

Indeed, during my sophomore year, desperate in my bulimic behavior, I began to dumpster dive...

"... I'd try to play it off, pretending everything was normal as people passed by me scrounging in the dumpster... in broad daylight... I couldn't hide any longer from others what I was doing... people were noticing..."*
*Excerpt from Sheryle Cruse's book, "Thin Enough: My Spiritual Journey Through the Living Death of an Eating Disorder"

This was an unwelcomed audience for me.

Nevertheless, people saw. And, no matter how I tried, I could not escape the Presence of the Most High.

For a long time, I fought God.

Nature vs. Nurture: An Unanswered Question?

Nature versus nurture: it's still an unanswered question. And that mystery applies to all things appearance.

Faces have always captured my attention. I am fascinated by the variety of features and expressions they contain.

A Couple of Kittens...

I first was obsessed with my mother's set of three cat figurines. There was one "mother cat" and her two smaller white kittens. I was especially preoccupied with the kittens.

And here, perhaps, is where I encountered one of my first harmful disordered ideas about image. I viewed one kitten as cuter, a/k/a, "better" than the other. Why? It was because this kitten- let's call her "Sally"- appeared to have a sweeter, more pleasing, "good kitty" facial expression. The other kitten, however, had more of a "Sophia- Loren- exotic- eyeliner-drawn- face" situation going on.

And, somehow, to me, that kitten face - let's call her "Sophia"- symbolized more mischief and displeasing, "bad kitty" behaviors than that of innocent-and-cute-looking Sally.

Indeed, in this kitten context, my toddler self was already learning inaccurate appearance associations all on my own.

But soon, other influences contributed to my preferences. Adults also instructed me about which emotions, often depicted in the human face, were acceptable - and which were not.

An Image Utensil?

FOMO: Fear of Missing Out

"Once is never enough, never is and never was, uh-huh,
Here and now is all that counts, here and now in large amounts, uh-huh"
~ Adam Ant, "Room at the Top"


In our culture today, there is a go-for-the gusto acronym, "FOMO," "Fear of Missing Out." I see it influencing our behavior. It declares we need to pounce on living life, taking advantage of every opportunity, going for our dreams.

But I also see its addiction message too, mainly reflected in the bender/binge concept with which some struggle. Each of us must deal with our individual vulnerabilities concerning substances, food, chaotic behaviors and relationships - and any other tempting vice under the sun.

Two events which spring to the top of my mind are Fat Tuesday and Nathan's Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest.

The Mother-Daughter Tug-of-War

It's been said the mother-daughter relationship is the most complicated dynamic around. Therefore, most of us can see why eating disorder behaviors often arise within these relationships. The influential modeling of mother on daughter impacts her beauty values.

But the issue goes beyond just appearance; the enmeshment creates a tug of war for control and autonomy.

Listen and Encourage

A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver. Heaviness in the heart of man maketh it stoop: but a good word maketh it glad. Hope deferred maketh the heart sick: but when the desire cometh, it is a tree of life. A man hath joy by the answer of his mouth: and a word spoken in due season, how good is it! Proverbs 25:11, 12: 25, 13:12, 15:23, King James Version

Something very exciting and wonderful happened to me last night and I felt like I was going to explode with happiness but there was nobody around that I could share it with so I lost some of the joy and excitement that I was feeling. It was like someone had taken a pin and pricked a balloon and some of the air went out of the balloon.

While it is important that we listen to people when they are hurting, I believe it is just as important, if not more important to listen to them when they are excited. If we stay on the mountain tops of happiness, excitement and joy, we will spend far less time down in the valleys of despair, hopelessness, depression and discouragement.

Don't let anyone tell you that it is impossible to stay on the mountain tops because that is a lie straight from the pits of hell! Yes, we will have times of discouragement, loneliness and despair due to difficult circumstances, heartaches, criticism, ridicule, scorn and sarcasm. However if Jesus lives in our hearts, He will be faithful to once again refresh our hearts with His understanding, joy, unconditional love, happiness, mercy, grace and kindness. Indeed, Jesus is able to keep us on the mountain tops.

Two years ago, I received an email from a pastor who was very discouraged and hurting. He told me "I preach my heart out and nobody says "Amen," smiles or laughs at the humorous points in my sermons." He said that he had been the pastor at this church for five years and no one had ever invited him and his wife to dinner. The pastor told me "I love God and it is my desire to serve Him, but I am human and sometimes I get very discouraged. Would you please pray for me?" How my heart went out to Him!

The Past is Over: Do Not Let It Define You Today

The Past is Gone
Once I learned to trust God with my life and my wills, my trust for others began to increase. I no longer allowed my past to define me. I stopped allowing the people of my past to define the trustworthiness of those closest to me.

I understand now, trusting God to love me despite my past also means I trust Him with my future. It means to believe He is starting something new within me as I rise each morning. This is a process that began with surrender, but that is not the end of the journey for me. I must also turn away from the mistakes of my past and turn toward God’s will.

Learning to Trust

Trusting others has been difficult for me. People have hurt me over the years and trust did not come naturally for me as a result. My husband, Patrick, never gave me a reason not to trust him, but still I questioned him in my mind. After he stopped drinking over a year ago, I wasn’t sure I could trust he would continue to abstain.

This lack of trust carried over into my relationship with Jesus. Could I trust Him? Could I take His Word for truth? Could I believe He loved me despite the past I carried with me? I worked against God’s way for so many years, how could He possibly love me?

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