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The Journey of Trusting God with Who I Am

I have never felt like I was good enough, both as a friend and as an employee.  At work, I tried so hard to accomplish what I thought could make me the “Best” and finally be considered “good enough” both in my managers’ eyes and in my own.  As a friend, I also worked hard to be loyal and likeable, but it also caused me to acquire some “friends” who were only out for their own gain and attempted to desecrate the person that God wanted me to be.   When people would praise me, I took that as either they were just trying to be nice to me or that they implicitly wanted me to demonstrate more of the quality they praised, until I eventually had nothing left of that praiseworthy quality to give. I always hated the sound of my voice and how short I was.  With being a Christian, I always thought I did something that would disqualify me from being a real disciple or that my cries for salvation were somehow unknowingly insincere or not real somehow. 

But then just recently, God gave me an epiphany–some of it through Jerry Bridges’ bestseller Trusting God Even When Life Hurts. Through this book, His Word, and other people, God impressed on my heart that I needed to trust Him to work through me.  

He said in essence, “Patricia, I made you who you are because I wanted the world to know that My power and strength will flow through your weakness. It’s OK to make mistakes.  I will never love you less when you do.  I will always be with you when you are struggling and I will never leave or forsake you, especially in those times.  Patricia, I am always working in and through you.  You have to let me work through you and trust that I have the best for you. I know you have been used and abused by so many people that claimed that they had the best for you.  You do not need to impress them anymore. You don’t have to be who they want you to be anymore.  You just be who you are and let Me mold you into who you always were meant to be, so the Best You will shine for the world and for My Glory.  Just. Trust. Me. Patricia!”

I realized God has always been working through my circumstances and even through the trials of my life to get me to a place where I could finally start my journey to accepting the person He made me to be.  I realized that I did not always have to be who certain managers, so-called “friends”, or anyone else wanted me to be. I did not have to try to fit their mold, especially if God did not want me to be in their mold. I’m still trying to learn that if someone is disappointed in me because I did not fit their mold of who they wanted me to be, so be it.  They probably would not fit my mold either. I recently found out that my Christian convictions did not match what another person wanted for me, but you know what? We accepted the fact that we weren’t a good match for that type of relationship, and we still respect each other!  I also was happy that I honored the Lord and did not budge on my convictions just to satisfy the desires of another person, even though it cost me in the process.  In this, I also realize that I don’t have to have an extraordinarily high performance at work, especially if it is going to cause me to dread working or cause me to treat other people badly.  

I also have started to appreciate that God has made good personality traits in me.  A couple weeks ago, I was tempted to go through on a suicide attempt, but I am convinced that God put a fear and tenacity in me that prevented me from going through with the attempt, and that saved my life!  This same tenacity also has helped me not to completely give up on myself and society and to persevere through my recent trials. 

I will end with what I will put at the end of a memoir I’m in process of writing: 

Yes, I still struggle with perfectionism, but I still have great hope that God can use me for great and beautiful things, just as he can use anyone else who struggles with self-worth, who yearns to feel loved and accepted for who they are, and who has bouts of loneliness. We can be used because we have scars and thus are able to see God’s heart more clearly.

And through the scars I see God transforming me into His image, from a caterpillar into a beautiful butterfly!

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How to Help Someone with Depression or Anxiety (Including What NOT to Say)

I have struggled with depression and anxiety for many years, but during the past five years things have started to improve dramatically, despite some challenging circumstances (such as having to move out of state for the first time in my entire life). I would like to thank those people who have stuck by me through my life’s journey and encouraged me to never give up.  These same people have also taught me how to encourage, validate, and strengthen others who also struggle with depression and/or anxiety.  

I am a born perfectionist–not so much for others, but definitely for myself.  I broke down in tears the other day at work because the pressure of performing at a certain rate and the anxiety of not meeting the goals I set for myself (and that I assumed the managers had set for me). I dreaded disappointing them. I was afraid that they would think less of me as a person or think that I wasn’t trying hard enough. The truth was that I had become so fixated on performing that this pressure was starting to suck out the joy and motivation to even work! Anxiety was starting to take over even before I clocked in to work.  However, one of my managers, Jim,* validated my presence and my character.  He made it clear that he did not expect me to perform at that rate every day, and it was OK to have bad days sometimes.  When someone is anxious, especially about not doing or being enough, a good way to calm their anxieties is to reassure them that you value them no matter what they do.  Also, validate something in their character that has nothing to do with what they are anxious about. For instance, Jim complimented me on how I make people joyful inside, which had nothing to do with my performance at work.  

However, I know from experience that there are things that you should never say to someone struggling with depression and anxiety. I had someone tell another person trying to calm my anxieties and depression not to “baby” me.  Never disparage someone struggling as “weak,” “babyish,” or “silly.” They already have low self-esteem and may even have suicidal thoughts. Disparaging or invalidating someone with depression or anxiety will not only make the symptoms worse, but can leave a lasting wound in their soul that can take a long time to heal. If you feel emotionally overloaded trying to help someone with depression and/or anxiety, do not do it alone. Instead, enlist the help of another person who is better able to help them.  

Another way to help someone struggling with depression and anxiety is to invest in them and believe in their abilities. When someone is clinically depressed, they feel like they are in a deep, dark tunnel with no way out.  They don’t typically see their God-given abilities and talents. If someone is anxious about themselves, they may think that trying anything new or that they haven’t done in a while will result in catastrophic failure, so why try? My mentor, J, saw that I was depressed and didn’t want to get out of the house much.  I did not believe that I would ever get a job or do anything worthy in my life.  Thankfully, she saw a way out of my deep, dark tunnel of doubt and despair, and walked me through the long but worthwhile process of helping me gain independence and employment. She invested in me and believed in my God-given abilities.  When we take the time and effort to invest in someone struggling with depression and anxiety, we will most likely see a slow but steady growth in that person.  They will be able to have hope and joy again. I can’t speak for J, but her investment has made a huge impact on how I view life and my challenges.  So far, even though I still get anxious and depressed sometimes, my episodes don’t last as long and are not as severe as before I met her. 

Sometimes, the best way to help a depressed or anxious person is just to be there for them and listen to them.  One of my online friends did not think she was doing much because she felt that she wasn’t able to completely get me out of my depressive episode.  She did more than many people offline I know. She didn’t have to say anything. She did not make things worse by offering unsolicited and unhelpful advice.  Instead, she just listened. Sometimes that is all that the person struggling needs at the time—someone that will care enough to listen and to be there for them, when no one else seems to be there. 

Finally, we can pray for those struggling with depression and anxiety. We can pray for God’s presence to flood them. We can ask God to help them see His sovereignty and caring hand in the situation that they are in so their anxieties would be quelled.  We can ask God to help them see the hope and joy that awaits them if they put their trust in Him and do not give up on their lives. 

If you are struggling now, there is a way out even if it doesn’t seem that way right now.  Don’t give up. If you are recovering, make it a point to help others out of the tunnel of darkness and help them see the Light of Joy and Love.  There is always hope when you are alive. 

*=not his real name

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Don’t Waste Your Life

One thing that COVID-19 has taught me, with the suddenness and the severity with which it could strike, is that we all have a limited time here on earth. 

Even pre-COVID times, I have been taught this lesson. I almost died in June 2014, because if I hadn’t gone to the ER when I did, my gall bladder would have burst. If that happened, I would not be here today!

As I have gotten older, I have realized that I have spent too much of my life angry and hurt.  I had spent too much time holding grudges and arguing with people who won’t even be there for my funeral! I spent too much of my life worrying about things that would be resolved within days of the incident or things that have no eternal impact at all. 

In 2020, I have observed people around me fall into similar patterns.  I see people against who they voted for in the last election. Mind you, many of them are not arguing with close family members or friends who they see often, but people gone from their in-person life, or someone who they haven’t seen in twenty or so years.   I’ve seen people arguing with a store employee who they probably don’t have to deal with on a daily basis about rights and mask wearing.  I’ve known people who have lost sleep over things that were resolved within days of the incident.  

If we do things like I have observed from various people this year and like I have done when I was younger, then we are wasting our lives! No one will say on their death bed, “ I wish I had spent more time arguing with person X about xyz.” On their death bed, no one will care about whether a particular store requires us to wear a mask or not.  We will not be concerned with work-related stresses or, on the other hand, anything related to entertainment, such as how a favorite team is performing.  

Most people will think about what they had wish they had done differently in life, whether it is how they treated people or opportunities they wish they had taken.  They will want more time to make things right in their world, but at the same time, regretting that they hadn’t used the time they were given more wisely. 

Don’t let that be you. Don’t waste your life! 

Ask yourself when you are tempted to get in a heated debate with someone: Will that person even be in my life a year from now? Is that person even in my daily in-person life today? When I die, will the person be there for my funeral? If the answer is “No,” disengage and walk away from the conversation. 

Spend time with people who are supportive of you. Minister to those around you. Smile at a person who is having a rough day, and encourage their soul.  Be determined to be a peacemaker and a life saver in someone’s life today. 

Ask yourself when you are worried about something: Will this even matter a year from now? Does this situation have eternal significance?  If not, QUIT worrying about it!  Also, remember what it says in Isaiah 26:3 (KJV), “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee,” and Romans 8:28 (KJV), “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” In other words, God will give you peace when you give your worries to Him and trust that He will bring you through the situation for our good and His glory. 

When we begin to have an eternal perspective on things and live like it could be our last days on earth, not only will we most likely have more joy in our lives, but our lives will never be wasted!

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Reason to Live

I almost killed myself. Several times. Recently, my friend related his interactions with a bullied classmate who was daily experiencing torment from his peers before he took his own life. Suddenly, I realized that had God not intervened when He did, that bullied classmate’s fate could have well been mine as well.

As a female on the spectrum, I am no stranger to the experience of having been bullied and eventually losing the will to live. My peers teased me from everything from my appearance to my socially awkward mannerisms. The ones that did not bully me either ignored me or hung out with me out of pity for my lack of friends and social skills. They dared not become too close to me and genuinely get to really know me as a person with hopes and dreams. These people may have meant well, but I could see through their veneers.

In high school, after being emotionally and verbally abused by a teacher (Yes, you read that right. An. Adult. Teacher), I came to the brink of suicide.  With little intimate support, other than my parents who didn’t know what went on until later, I thought things would never get better. I had strong suicidal ideations. I was also jealous of my younger brother who I thought had everything I lacked. 

Unlike my friend’s classmate, I did not end up taking my own life. God, in His goodness and mercy, slowly revealed Himself and His love for me. God slowly brought people into my life who helped me through the challenges of my season of life—people who believed in me, who did not just pity me, but encouraged my God-given abilities and really wanted to know me as a person and my life story.

I have heard and seen some people say that if it weren’t for their pet (or insert “X” thing/person here) they would have no reason to live. I say, if I did not have God and He never intervened in my life, I would have no reason to live.

Thankfully, God is my reason to live, and He did intervene in my life numerous times when I needed Him the most! God has also motivated me to strive for excellence in everything I do, regardless of the temporal rewards that may await because eternal ones are much more valuable to me. God has also made me realize that there are people that need to hear my story of how He rescued me and gave me hope, because many people desperately need that right now. 

They need to hear your story as well. So, whatever situation you are facing, don’t give up. Don’t. Give. Up.  You can save someone’s life in the future simply by not giving up on yours and triumphing through life’s challenges. Someone will need to hear your story. Let yours be one of hope and perseverance for others. 

If you are feeling like giving up, there is help for you. You don’t have to go through this life alone. Please call 1-800-273-8255 (National Suicide Prevention Hotline) if you or someone you know is feeling like giving up on life. Remember, you are NOT alone, and there is hope for you as long as you are still alive.

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The Power of Belief: How Positive Influencers Helped Me Achieve the Impossible

Being on the autistic spectrum, I know full well my limitations. For many years I struggled to find a permanent job, a problem all too common for autistics like myself.  In fact, according to an article by MoneyWatch, a whopping 85% of college graduates affected by autism are unemployed! (1)  Many people who knew me well thought that it would be good if I found a part-time job, though I wanted to work full-time.   Some people thought I would also never be able to drive myself places and achieve many of the goals I wanted to accomplish.

However, that all changed when I met my mentor Jill* and, a couple years later, when I met my then-manager Elizabeth.*

When I first met Jill, I really didn’t think anything would change in my life, but, at the same time, I unconsciously hoped that life would get better. I was also still trying to adjust to some changes in my life, and change is especially difficult for those on the spectrum who need/like more routine. However, Jill kept insisting that I learn to drive myself and that I could eventually find a job that would suit me.  I did not believe her. Even my parents thought I needed a job in which I had minimal interaction with people, and those kinds of jobs would be very difficult to find!  I eventually did learn to drive myself a few months after I met Jill, but I still did not think I would ever be able to find any job—part time or full time.  Jill then helped me to find an employment agency that would assist me in finding a job.

After climbing through many hurdles to find an agency willing to work with me, we finally found a friendly and determined person from the employment agency that would work with me to help find me a suitable job. About six months later, I finally got a call to get interviewed at a thrift store.  Because God was with me, He helped me to be confident enough to make a good impression on the interviewer and I got the job.  I worked very hard there, but I did not know if I would last long at the job.  Fortunately, I was able to be there for two and a half years before I sensed in my spirit that God wanted me somewhere else.  I was ready to take the next step in my employment journey—finding a full time job.  However, some of the people at the agency thought it was good that I was even employed, since it is difficult for people on the spectrum to find any type of jobs! But Jill was confident in my ability to find a full time job.  So, we pushed through and the same person from the agency that worked with me last time was willing to work with me again to find me a full time job.

It took several months before we found anything.  Then, one wintry February morning in 2016, God intervened and I got interviewed at a store in the company I am with now. Though at first I was part time, about six to seven months later, I was instated as full time. I was overjoyed the day I got promoted to full time.  (To see more details on how I got my first full time job, please see this link:  https://placeinthisworld224.wordpress.com/2017/07/21/a-godsend-my-current-job/).  If it were not for Jill always believing in me and never giving up on me, I do not know where I would be today.

About a year later, I met Elizabeth. When I first met Elizabeth, I did not know how much she would change my perspective on life and the trajectory of it.  Like Jill, she always believed in and never gave up on me, even when other people around me did.  For instance, when I approached her about wanting to learn the register, she immediately suggested that I could train for twenty minutes each week until I felt comfortable enough to be a certified backup, which was my goal, but I did face some backlash from others.  My now ex-friend told me not to continue training for cashier because she thought I couldn’t handle it when there were difficult customers and that it would be too stressful for me. Another manager commented, “ A CSM [customer service manager] would never call you up to ring.” Thankfully, I listened to Elizabeth instead of the people around me, and a month before Elizabeth left our store, I was instated as a backup cashier.  The customer service managers called me quite often, and as the number of register-trained associates dwindled, I became one of the few who were register-trained.  Most customers were satisfied with my speed and efficiency in my service to them at the register.  Elizabeth also believed in my abilities so much that she trained me on some of the things that a department manager, and not a regular associate like me, does.  With her, I not only continually learned new things in my work, I also gained more confidence in my God-given abilities.

I learned from Jill and Elizabeth not to doubt my own God-given abilities and to not listen to the naysayers who doubt that I could achieve my goals.  Jill and Elizabeth instilled in me the power of their belief, which motivated me to prove the naysayers wrong and to realize the dreams that I had held inside for so long.

Sources:

1)      Pesce, Nicole Lyn. “Most college grads with autism can’t find jobs. This group is fixing that.”  MarketWatch.  April 2017. Republished  2 April 2019. Retrieved 30 July 2020. https://www.marketwatch.com/story/most-college-grads-with-autism-cant-find-jobs-this-group-is-fixing-that-2017-04-10-5881421.

*=Names have been changed to protect the privacy of the individuals mentioned

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Things That Bring Me Joy When I’m Upset or Anxious

Though I have battled depression and anxiety for much of my life, recently there have been more blessings God has put in my life that have brought me joy when I had been upset and anxious about a situation.  If anyone here struggles similarly with anxiety and stress, maybe you can relate with me on these things that bring joy after you experience something stressful or anxiety-provoking, or you may have other things that bring you joy. No matter what it is, I hope that God brings you things that will produce joy or will at least alleviate your stress or anxiety. Here are some things that bring me joy when I am upset or anxious:

  1. People who demonstrate they care—I am so blessed by the people who didn’t just stare at me or judge me for my anxiety-produced autistic meltdowns. Instead, they tried to help calm me down and find a solution to the stressful situation. They understand that I have been overloaded by stimulation from all sides (a common trait for those on the spectrum like me) and need compassion.  I hope to care for others similarly when I see someone that is visibly upset and/or stressed.
  2. God’s grace and mercy in the situation– When people yell at me, I sometimes fear that I’ll get in trouble, even if I didn’t do anything wrong. However, what often happens is that God brings situations and people into my life that demonstrate His mercy and grace. For instance, a couple days ago a customer yelled at me for something someone else did, and it caused me much anxiety and grief because the day was already stressful for various reasons. However, the next day, an associate told me that he or a manager would be there for me if a customer made me feel uncomfortable or unsafe.  His comment made me aware that God had a hand in this situation and He would always provide me the grace needed to deal with anything.
  3. People who motivate me to persevere— When I have gotten stressed at work or in other situations, my temptation (as I know some of you can relate) is to quit and give up. However, because of my dad, my mentor, and others who believe in me and motivate me to persevere, I have found great joy in finally being able to accomplish some of what I believe God has made me to do.
  4. Realizing what I have–As I said in an earlier post, gratitude can alleviate and even kill depression, bringing much joy. Reflecting with thanksgiving for all God has brought me through and blessed me with makes me so happy. After I was a little upset one day, I found an associate wanting to buy snacks for our entire department. Because of this associate’s thoughtfulness, my anger completely dissipated and I focused on the blessing of what God provided through this thoughtful associate.
  5. A resolution to the situation making me upset or anxious–About six or seven months ago, I was so upset at how I was being treated in comparison to another person that I almost got myself in trouble. However, a few weeks later, that person became kinder and much friendlier towards me. It was then that I realized that I should probably forgive this person and let go of my anger. That resolution brought me much peace–and joy, of course.
  6. Music that comforts my soul—No, I cannot listen to “happy” music when I am upset. It annoys and upsets me even more. However, music that speaks to my stress and assures me that God can use even that situation for good brings me joy.
  7. Hope that it’s not always going to be like this—Yesterday, I was tempted to call out from work because of how upset and stressed I was the day before. However, a.) I was already at work, so I didn’t feel like wasting time going back at home, and b.) I had hope that things would not be as stressful as they were before. That hope enabled me to complete my shift as scheduled and I even enjoyed being at work that day!
  8. People who make me laugh—I have had a couple coworkers who are master comedians. They make me laugh so easily that even when I’m upset, their jokes never fail to bring me joy.
  9. Seeing someone I have missed who I haven’t seen in a while—Sometimes, during the most stressful situations in my life, I see people that I haven’t seen in a while. The joy that person brought to me in the past and the joy of seeing them at that moment makes me forget about my stress.
  10. Taking a rest or nap, and feeling refreshed the next day or week—If all else fails, I take a nice, warm shower and go directly to bed. Sometimes, having adequate rest–not too little or too much—can clear my mind and enable me to look at things from a more positive perspective.

I have learned that there are many ways that God brings us joy again after we have “suffered a little while.” Life’s difficulties can sometimes be what truly produces joy in us. With God’s grace and mercy, we will find it. Don’t give up!

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How My Dad Helped Me Through My Depression

My Dad has helped me fight my depression in countless ways and he has always been there for me in some way when I needed him.  The one way that has helped most is by watching him persevere through many trials that he faced throughout his life.  Many people in his position would have probably quit when things got as tough as it did for him, but he never did.  Eventually, after many tries, my dad almost always got a blessing or something he long awaited. His mantra, “I am not a quitter,” has inspired me to likewise persevere through my own trials.

One recent example is in buying the house where my mom and I now live.  When my parents saw the house, they instantly fell in love with it and immediately put in an offer.  However, it took a while for the previous owners of the house to accept it. Because the process took longer than expected, my mom wanted my dad to give up on trying and look for another one, since we didn’t have long before we’d have to move out of our old house.  Thankfully, however, the owners got back to us just in time! There were other things going on afterwards that delayed the home-buying process further, but in all this, my dad never lost hope that the house we live in now would be ours! A couple months later, we finally closed on the house.  A few days after that, we packed our stuff and moved.  Had my dad given up on buying this house, we would not be living where we are today.

Another example of his perseverance is how he has pressed on at his jobs.  When other people quit due to many factors, including the environment and benefits, my dad remained loyal to his job.  As a result, he has gained the respect of his colleagues and superiors and continues to have income.

My dad’s perseverance in these and countless other situations has helped me fight my depression because his refusal to quit in life has inspired me not to quit on my own life, even when things got dark and I was tempted to give up.

There had been days at one of my previous jobs that I was so plagued by stress, depression, and anxiety that I seriously considered quitting right then and there. But, inspired by my dad’s perseverance, I went back to work the next day. I didn’t even have to take a leave of absence or call out!

I have been with my current company for over four years.  I have watched so many co-workers come and go in the two stores I have worked in.  I told a friend of mine that sometimes I still struggle with thoughts of ending my life (though I usually am not seriously planning anything, as I was in times past) when I am super stressed and depressed, and she said, “At least you have stuck to your job. I couldn’t handle staying around any longer.” And I told her that I get my tenacity from my dad.  This tenacity has not only helped me keep my job with the same company for over four years, but has also helped me persevere in practicing new skills and improving my existing skills.  About two years ago, I wanted to learn how to backup cashier. Although it took me many months to train and one of my so-called friends kept discouraging me from even training, my perseverance paid off.  About a month later, a customer complimented me on how fast I was.  The CSMs (customer service managers) now call me for backup cashier assistance often, as I am one of the few registered-trained associates that isn’t a regular cashier.

When I was in the dark pits of my depression, my dad not only supported and comforted me, he also encouraged me not to give up and to just try my best.  With God’s (and my earthly dad’s) help, I was stopped many times from carrying out plans to end my own life, and I am very thankful for that. Without their help, I would not have been able to enjoy any of God’s blessings that He had planned for me over the years!

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How We Can Become Stronger Through the Pandemic

There is a lot of fear, panic, anger, sadness, and depression in the world today due to the COVID-19 pandemic. I understand that. But what if God is using this pandemic in order to strengthen us and not just make us “suffer,” as some may think? What if, instead of fearing the worst that can happen to our families and friends, we could rely on God’s comfort, presence, and power to help us to get through each day without paralyzing fear? What if, instead of getting angry at the inconveniences that the pandemic has caused in our lives, we learn to live with it and make the best of it? And what if we could take the time to mourn those we have lost, without fear of ridicule or judgment? What if we could treat our fellow human beings with more love and compassion than ever before? I believe we can, if we trust God to help us.

I have been grieved by all the politicized vitriol surrounding the pandemic, especially here in the U.S., because it points to our society’s inability to come together in unity. One of the customers that I talked to recently told me, “We are all in this together.” That is certainly true, but some people act like only their view is right and that those who have differing views are somehow immoral and/or inferior to them. In order for us to become stronger through the pandemic, we need to be respectful of people’s beliefs surrounding it. For instance, if you believe that people should stay at home except to shop for essentials and that they should wear a face mask in public, you should not chastise the people who for some reason can’t wear a face mask or who must go out to shop for certain items. On the flip side, those who are not as concerned about the pandemic should not chastise the people who believe that staying at home and not going out too much is the best option. We must remember that each person is an image bearer of God, and that they have needs and dreams, just as we do. They are feeling the effects of the pandemic, just as we are. Be open to others’ views by treating those with whom you disagree with grace. 

Many people have legitimate fears about the pandemic. If you are one of the people working as an “essential worker,” as I am, you may worry that all the people you come in contact with at your job could cause you to unknowingly pass on the virus to your family or those with whom you live. You may worry about finances if you are unemployed right now and may worry about not being able to pay bills on time.  

In Jeremiah 29:11 (NKJV), it says, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.”  Know that whatever is happening in your life right now, that God is using that for your good somehow (Romans 8:28).  What you are going through in your life right now may not seem “good” or “hopeful,” but know that God will use the icky parts of our lives to either teach us something we will use in our future or lead us to a better future. We can ease those fears, at least a little bit, by trusting that God will protect us and provide for us.  

Another way we can become stronger–emotionally and mentally–through this pandemic is not getting so upset at all the inconveniences caused by it. One of the things that really gets people upset is having to wear face masks in public. They say they can’t breathe in them (I understand their concern); it forfeits their “rights” (I am baffled by that one), and they are allergic to the kind of masks they are wearing (there are different kinds of masks you can wear). If you are one of the people who have significant trouble breathing through a mask, ask your doctor to recommend a face shield that can function as a mask or some other alternative so that breathing won’t be so difficult. For those that just don’t want to wear a mask, know that complaining about wearing one or refusing to wear one will not alleviate the inconvenience. For one thing, if wearing a mask is required where you live, you could be fined for refusing to wear one! 

Also, please be patient. I have noticed certain things take a little bit longer because of the backlog caused by the pandemic and certain businesses not being able to open. Do not yell at an essential worker if you have to wait longer for an item, or if the item is out of stock. This is not an issue with that worker, and may be an issue with the supplier/manufacturer of the item not being able to make the particular item at the rate of demand. If you have to wait longer for an item, it may be because of inadequate staffing to meet demand. Again, the worker is only one person. Unless you find a way to clone them, they cannot do five people’s jobs. 

When we unite as children of God and as a society to get through this pandemic together, we will grow stronger in faith and character. Then, we will realize that we are all in this world together, and we will all lead others to know the love and power of Christ by our care and compassion.

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Living In Fear–My Journey Out

I have lived in some fear for most of my life. Even back to my elementary school days, I was chided by teachers and peers alike for “worrying too much.” I had severe OCD in my early teen years. Later, some of my anxiety sometimes turned into paranoia. My senior year of high school I was dubbed “most paranoid” by my graduating class.

But God has rescued me out of many of my fears. Yes, He is the same God that said “Do not fear” numerous times in the Bible.

I recovered from my severe OCD with medication and by slowly trying to reduce the time I spent on my nonsensical rituals. Now, many years later, I barely even remember what the rituals were! God used people and situations in my life to help me combat the devil’s lies that not doing the rituals would bring me “bad luck”. (Yes, I actually believed that “bad luck” deal!) God helped me realize that not doing the nonsensical rituals actually freed me to be joyful and to do what He wanted me to do with my life.

I also used to be so afraid what people would think of me if they found out that I was on the autistic spectrum. I tried to hide my struggles from the outside world even before I realized I was on the spectrum. I was taught by my parents, my culture, and the community around me to not tell anyone about my “dirty laundry.” I know they all meant well—they did not want to further expose me to becoming prey to unscrupulous people who may have wanted to take advantage of my openness. However, I also felt alone and powerless to fight the battles that still raged on in my heart long after the visible symptoms of the struggles had passed. When the Spirit impressed upon my heart to write about my struggles, I expected people to judge and even reject me, but, at that point, I did not care. I knew God wanted to use me to bring hope to others struggling similarly. When I started writing about my struggles, something amazing happened! Not only did God use me in His amazing way, but I also found that most people found my vulnerability refreshing. It opened up a way for them to share their own struggles and find acceptance and camaraderie with those struggling similarly, including myself.

Sometimes, I would also be afraid of certain people, as when an abuse survivor sees his or her abuser in close proximity after going “no contact” for a long time. This probably stems from an incident where a teacher growled at me and acted threateningly to me when I ran from him in fear. I still fear people when they yell at me because of this, but thankfully my fear abates within hours, or only a couple days at most. God has infused the power of forgiveness and redemption to quell my fears of people yelling at me or hurting me. He has taught me (and continues to teach me) the power of releasing bitterness and replacing it with mercy, compassion, and grace.

When I was in school, I used to worry about many things–for example, whether I would pass a test or quiz, or if I would get in trouble for something that I may have said or done. Sometimes, I would lie awake for a long time worrying about these things. What I learned was that my worries and fears either never came to pass at all or it wasn’t as bad as I imagined. I still struggle with this sometimes, but one major way God has helped me is redirecting my focus from my circumstances and the “what-ifs” (like what if I don’t pass that test….or what if I get laid off or fired from my job?) to His sovereignty and goodness. Now, I am learning how to say, “Even if I don’t pass the test, God will give me a second chance. Even if I get laid off, God will provide me another job. Even if I get COVID-19, God will use my illness to glorify Himself and bring about good in my life.” This has quelled my fears about COVID-19 significantly, and has helped me to trust God’s sovereignty and goodness in my life, no matter what happens.

Almost everyone I know has at least one fear, even if they don’t readily acknowledge it. It’s normal, but when fear starts to paralyze your joy and freedom in life, then it needs to leave. With God’s help, you can conquer your fears and experience the joy and freedom He has for you.

 

This post was originally published on Patricia’s blog: https://placeinthisworld224.wordpress.com/2020/04/16/living-in-fear-my-journey-out/

About Patricia Go:

My name is Patricia A. Go, and my love of writing started when I was just eight years old, when I remember writing little stories on cut-up pieces of construction paper stapled together. I have been actively involved with various church ministries for about fifteen years. I have volunteered at a church’s food pantry and health clinic. I started my blog on December 23, 2015. God’s Whisperings is a blog that started out as wanting to share with others lessons that I learned about what God had been teaching me through various situations in my life, and quickly became, for me, a catalyst to bring people God’s love, hope, and joy through what I have learned in life. I work full-time at a job that has nothing to do with writing, but I love it and consider it a ministry. Also, God uses the situations I find myself in at my day job to teach me lessons, many of which I share in my blog, at http://placeinthisworld224.wordpress.com

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Things I Learned in Order to Cope with the Coronavirus

Saying that these are uncertain and tumultuous times would be an understatement to so many in this world right now. I just moved almost a week ago and face some uncertainty because of that event. However, many of you are facing even greater uncertainty and even fears because your jobs may have been eliminated or changed, your children are no longer able to attend school (except online), and most of you can no longer attend church services, mosques, temples, or any other place of worship because of this pandemic. Even with all this trouble and uncertainty in the world today, there are still ways we can successfully cope with these new realities and stay healthy, both physically and emotionally. Here are some things I learned about how we can cope with this pandemic that is affecting our livelihoods:

Selfishness can cost lives, so we should strive to be considerate of others. When people hoard the essential supplies to combat or prevent the Coronavirus, or when they are rude and non compliant with those that provide services and supplies that they need, they are being selfish. This selfishness can cost lives because it can force stores and other businesses to close and those without means of transportation and access to online services can potentially starve or be in otherwise grave danger because they will have to go without the supplies they need to survive. If people don’t practice social distancing, not caring about whether they will potentially infect someone, they could potentially make someone who has a compromised immune system or is fragile physically to get seriously ill and even die! This can happen because the person who is acting nonchalantly can be a carrier of the virus, even if he or she doesn’t yet present any symptoms. However, when we practice social distancing so that the virus does not spread, wash our hands frequently in order not to spread potentially harmful germs, and when we are patient and considerate to those who serve us and to those in need, I know God will give each one of us the grace we need to be able to endure this trial for as long as He allows.

God will always provide for us, so we do not have to be afraid of not having enough. Many people are in fear of at least some aspect of their livelihood being affected by this virus—whether it has to do with their job or financial security, having adequate food and water, and even that they may contract the virus themselves. I confess that I had some fears in all these categories at some point during these past few days, but then God brought this verse to mind:

“Casting all your cares upon him, for he careth for you.”-1 Peter 5:7 (KJV)

That is when I was reminded by God that He cares for me. And He still cares for every single person reading this today, even when we are going through trials. Not only that, but we don’t have to fear because God always provides for us what we need in some way because of his loving care for us. In fact, Philippians 4:19 (KJV) says:

“But my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”

My family and I have personally experienced the truth of this verse, even just over this past week! For example, my mom needed chicken to cook a dish, and she looked for it in several stores, only to discover they were already out. However, God provided us with the chicken through my brother, who was able to find it at a store closer to his house, and bought it for my mom. Another incident where God graciously provided happened a few days ago, when I found out I would still have a job, after having worried about what I would do if I didn’t have one, since I tend to delve into depression and get antsy when I have to stay home and not have work to do. Moreover, I would have a very difficult time staying at home for several days on end and still be relatively sane and stable mentally. Thankfully, I went in for the job offer at my new workplace, and they allowed me to start the next day! Not only that, God provided for me beyond what I had asked or even expected when I discovered I got a good raise compared to the last place I worked! I am so blessed! God also did the same for Job, after Job’s time of intense suffering, by fully restoring or replacing all that Job had before. I am convinced that if we all continue to fully trust and lean on God, He will do similarly for you, in His timing, according to what is right for you. Even when you don’t think God is coming through for you right now, do not give up on Him! God will always come through just when you need Him. His timing is always perfect.

I learned we should help others in need during this tumultuous time, according to what we are able to do. If you are healthy, do not have the virus, and have the means to do so, help others who are battling the emotional and/or financial effects of the virus. For instance, if a friend (online or in person) wants to talk or vent to you, listen to him or her with thought and consideration. Do not seem too busy or judgmental in your demeanor. Offer words of encouragement as he or she faces these trials. Share how you are getting through it and talk about the hope that comes from Christ. If your friend needs financial help, and you are able to do so, give him or her the necessary resources as a gift, not expecting repayment, as burdening him or her with a loan can create additional financial and emotional burdens. Help your loved ones in any way you can, and value their presence in your life even more now, as they may have no one else they interact with face-to-face.

If we do our best to put others before ourselves, trust that God will always provide what we need, and help others struggling with the effects of this pandemic, we will defeat Coronavirus and God will make us stronger and better than before!

 

About Patricia Go:

My name is Patricia A. Go, and my love of writing started when I was just eight years old, when I remember writing little stories on cut-up pieces of construction paper stapled together. I have been actively involved with various church ministries for about fifteen years. I have volunteered at a church’s food pantry and health clinic. I started my blog on December 23, 2015. God’s Whisperings is a blog that started out as wanting to share with others lessons that I learned about what God had been teaching me through various situations in my life, and quickly became, for me, a catalyst to bring people God’s love, hope, and joy through what I have learned in life. I work full-time at a job that has nothing to do with writing, but I love it and consider it a ministry. Also, God uses the situations I find myself in at my day job to teach me lessons, many of which I share in my blog, at http://placeinthisworld224.wordpress.com