by Christine Carter
I don’t know about you, but I hate to be uncomfortable. Just being honest. I grew up as a shy little girl who became an introverted adult, and honestly, anxiety is something I deal with on a daily basis. It certainly isn’t a pleasant feeling, and I know I am not alone in saying that.
Many people I know deal with anxiety. A lot of us are Christians, who can repeat the verse back ‘be anxious for nothing’. But this doesn’t mean that the feeling you get in the pit of your stomach as you feel stress take over and leave you with a knot in your throat will disappear just because you want it to.
So what do we do with this? My experience has been to do my best, to persevere in spite of it, and find healthy ways to cope with it. I probably should cut out the coffee, but caffeine seems to be a necessary evil for me. So I take a deep breath or two or 3, and I take my anxiety medicine, and I defuse essential oils, or just go lay down and listen to Christian music when I need to. Usually, I am fine with it, because I have lived with it for so long and I’ve learned to deal with it like any other part of my life.
So living a life that provides as much comfort as possible can be appealing. I have been laid off from work since this pandemic started, and I start to feel a bit of dread at the thought of eventually having to go back to work. I feel it even as I am typing this. But I have always worked in the past, and I know I will go back to work again when things get back to normal.
In the meantime, I have been busying myself with 2 summer courses and getting back to doing more artwork and writing more poetry. The latter 2 are also good ways of coping with anxiety. So I try to stay pretty productive. In some ways this has been a good experience.
The two classes which I took are toward a bachelor’s degree I am working on finishing. The first was Intercultural Communication and the 2nd was Theories in Counseling. I just finished both of them this past week.
It is interesting how two very different classes brought up the subject of discomfort. Interculturally, it is easy to get uncomfortable when you interact with someone from another culture or who has a different cultural experience than you. It is easy to stay in an environment where this rarely happens. But growth happens when you step outside of your familiar world and get to know someone who may either look or sound or think differently than you, or all the above.
We read a book about Hmong refugees to America and a family’s struggles to have successful communication with their daughter’s doctors. It was a heartbreaking story, but one which showed the importance of not assuming things about others, and making a greater effort to bridge a cultural divide.
In my Theories in Counseling class, we looked at several different counseling theories and methods. One very popular form of therapy right now is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. This therapy takes a look at the issues that a client may have in light of how they think, and tries to encourage change in thinking and change in behaviors as a result of one’s thinking.
Often clients are asked to do homework in which they are asked to take some steps in doing the very things which make them uncomfortable, for example, riding in an elevator. Over time this causes growth and change in the client as they become more able to change their own thought processes that may prevent them from doing something that they want or need to do.
Let’s face it, change isn’t easy. Staying the same is very safe, but there is no growth involved.
Recently, through these classes I have been encouraged to take small steps of my own in order to see changes that I would like to have in my own life. I have challenged myself to lose some weight and to stop relying on food as a source of comfort. In order to jump start this diet and make myself stick with it, I posted it on Facebook for the purpose of accountability. Others shared suggestions and encouragement, and I knew I needed to stick it out because of this. As of now I have lost 7 pounds, but I still have a long way to go, and I am hungry!
This morning I sent out an invite to several Christian Facebook friends in an effort to start a Women’s Encouragement and Bible Study group online. I shared a devotional with the group. This is something I would have loved to do if someone sent me an invite to join their group, but instead I felt a nudge to do it myself.
It is very easy to ignore the nudge when you feel it, but then you stay comfortable and you miss the rewards that come as a result of taking the chance. It is important in living the Christian life that we have support, and provide support to others. Taking a step out of one’s comfort zone can often bring about positive change that would not come without it. So if you have the time and you think God is prompting you to do something uncomfortable, I encourage you to take the first step. The next step will be easier.
About the Author
Christine Carter is a working mom of a 12-year-old active son Marquis and has been married to her best friend Brent Carter for almost 15 years.
She attends Bethel: the Church at Philadelphia Mills, where she has been attending for almost 12 years.
She is currently a Quality Assurance Specialist at Gate 1 Travel in Fort Washington, PA. She resides in Levittown, PA, where she has lived for most of her life.
She is currently attending John Brown University’s online program where she is working on finishing a Psychology Degree which she began at JBU in NW Arkansas in the 1990s. She expects to graduate in May 2021.
She has always enjoyed writing, and poetry has been her method of choice. She believes that if you have a talent or a gift from God, or a desire to be used for His kingdom, He will make a way. You simply need to be willing.
You can read Christine’s Diary of a Prodigal Daughter column on the 3rd Friday each month here at Mustard Seed Sentinel.