Friday, August 20, 2010

Life Lessons: Recovery

I noticed it during the early morning hours while nursing a restless baby E back into slumber.

Normally, I don't even fully wake when I nurse him, but I felt something strange.

I fumbled in the dark, ran my finger tips over a rather large bump on my breast after E had latched on and was contentedly slurping away.

I dismissed it as nothing, and I went fell back to sleep only to wake and notice it again while nursing the little one.

Red and raised and swollen.

My baby continued to nurse as I tried to analyze it, figure it out, self diagnose.

And after he finished I did what any compulsive worrier does: I consulted Dr. Google. And he reported at least 10 different possibilities including but not limited to cysts, mastitis, plugged duct, tumor ...

I'm the type of person who can see smoke gently rising into the sky in the middle of the clear midwestern sky and go from a simple state of wondering the cause to thinking a bomb went off, and oh, by the way, don't I hear sirens in the background? Lots of sirens? Quick, head home, load up the kids and ammo and drive straight to upper peninsula Michigan where I'll quickly have to assimilate to living an outdoors life sans toilet paper while hunting my own food and tracking down seeds so I can plant a garden because it's very apparently World War III that's dawning in the sky right before my very eyes ...

As the smoke clears, of course, I'm still standing in the middle of the driveway lost in worst case scenario and fretting over how I'll possibly survive without electricity in the middle of a cold UP winter, totally drenched in my own worry and fear.

Oh, you laugh. But I'm serious. I've gone from zero to full-fledged Armageddon in about 60 seconds regarding that very scenario more than once.

I'm not totally crazy; nope, rather, I'm just a recovering worrier.

I'm emerging as the captain of a ship of fear at the old age of 27 after years and years of sinking into a sea of worry and doubt.

And like most everything in life, this has been a journey of faith and perseverance and self control.

I sit at the feet of a very wise mentor. I've been lucky enough to be in three of her pilot classes for different Bible studies she's written.

She's full of wisdom and knowledge, and I could listen to her experiences for hours and feel like only 15 minutes has passed.

She's a recovering worrier, too, so often she throws out life per servers for those of us stuck in a sinking boat of worry and fear.

A few weeks ago, she cited a scientific study about worry, fear and gratitude.

It's physically impossible, scientifically speaking, to simultaneously worry and express gratitude.

The same neurons fire off both of those expressions, so it simply cannot be done.

She then took us to the Manual for Life.

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God." Philippians 4:6

Funny how God knew what He was talking about long before the study but it often takes a scientific study to perk our ears, pique our attention.

So my quick remedy since she shared this with our class is to immediately go to gratitude when I find myself sinking into the worry and fear life so often hands me.


I resolved to call our doctor and made an appointment to see him promptly as I go about my morning, taking care of the boys and tending to the house.

As I cuddle a crabby baby and a too-hyper preschooler climbs atop my back while I'm perched on the floor, I feel my heart drop into my stomach, cuing the worry.

I know I'm about to go there; I know my mind is starting the descent into worry and fear.

Whether it's a clogged duct or cyst or tumor, something's there.

I have no control over it being there, I tell myself.

But I do have a choice in how I respond to it, whatever it is, being there.

I can worry myself into a foul mood, rob my family of a perfectly good morning by getting testy and irritated and anxious.


I can start thanking God for all the beauty laid out before my very eyes.

So I choose to give thanks.

And just like the study says, just like the Word says, I feel the fear melt into a puddle of insignificance at my feet when I bring my requests to His feet with thanksgiving through prayer and petition.

Because worry only robs today of it strength.

There's no point in bringing the possibility of problems for tomorrow into today.

Because today has enough problems of its own.

But it also has enough goodness of its own, and there's no reason to overshadow that with clouds of fear.


  1. I just love your last nuggets of wisdom here.
    "Because worry only robs today of it strength.

    There's no point in bringing the possibility of problems for tomorrow into today.

    Because today has enough problems of its own.

    But it also have enough goodness of its own, and there's no reason to overshadow that with clouds of fear."

    That's pretty much what I wrote about today too, except it encourages the opposite. Don't dwell. Do something about it.

    Hope the lump is nothing too worrisome. Clogged ducts and mastitis I've had, and man, those were long hard days for me...Good luck to you my friend.

  2. Wow. I'm at a loss for words.

    A recovering worrier--I like that description. I think I'll borrow it, if you don't mind.

    Faith and fear can't co-exist, yet I often turn to fear because it is easier. Faith requires something more than I'm often willing to give, but I'm trying to turn to God more and it really does help.

  3. This is so beautiful. I struggle with anxiety and worry, too. It was a major contributor to my active alcoholism, all those years.

    When I finally got sober I had no ability to cope with worry - I had never been able to build up coping skills because of the drinking.

    Gratitude and prayer are the two biggest things that help me through worry - whether it's an aimless, baseless fear or something real. I love the idea that you can't experience gratitude and worry at the same time. I treasure this thought and I will use it often.

    And not that you were looking for diagnostic help, but I had a lump like that when I was nursing my son - it wasn't a clogged duct or mastitis. After scary ultrasounds and a biopsy, I was told I would have to wait until I stopped nursing, because sometimes nursing produces benign adenomas (sp?) that go away in time. It did.

    Thanks for your gorgeous words. I'm so happy to have found your blog!


  4. Darn that I read this from my phone which makes a fully-thought out comment impossible. But my goodness, this post touched me. I need to sit with it and consider the option you present here. I'm a seasoned worrier, I've often argued that it comes from the shock of losing a parent at such a young age. But it can be crippling (and, if truth be told, divisive). So I appreciate this perspective. You inspire me! I think I might tape this nugget to my desk:

    "There's no point in bringing the possibility of problems for tomorrow into today."

  5. I am a constant worrier, I can completely relate to seeing a cloud of smoke and thinking it's the end of the world. I read that laughing and thought that is exactly what I do. Or, taking a lump and thinking of all the possibilities of what it could be. I think I need to read this post daily to remind myself to let the worry go. It can become crippling and I need to embrace life more and let go of the anxiety and fear. thank you for your wisdom, just wanted to let you know it's much appreciated

  6. Thank you. May I join you in a focus on goodness.

  7. Ok, did you read my mail this week? Because the recovering worrier thing is ME! Oh, I am right there with you - the drive home from work is the worst.

    Praying that the lump turns out to be nothing serious.

  8. I, too, am a recovering addict, and I, too, discovered the Word and prayer were my way out. While Josh was in Africa, I was in a deep hole of worry, but He brought me out, gave me strength, hope!

  9. This was a very beautiful post and I am a HUGE worrier. I completely can go from peace to armageddon in about 60 seconds or less.

    I need to focus on gratitude when I feel like worrying and today for me is a great day to do this.

  10. Aw sweetie, I will start praying for you. I too am a worrier and can go from 0 to 60 in 1.2 seconds. And Dr. Google has been known to frequent my laptop. Does it help that I heard nursing is a great defense against those ugly tumors? Praying girl....

  11. Hope everything turns out ok...
    I'm the same way (you could probably figure that out!) and like Ellie, that played a huge part in my active alcoholism days...
    Truthfully, I hear a car drive by our complex at night and worry it's going to drive into the kids room, since it faces the parkinglot (albeit with trees and a sidewalk between...) on the first floor of our building.
    So yeah. I get you :)
    Lovely, lovely post, my friend. Thank you for it.

  12. I could say, "I think, therefore I worry" as my motto. I so get what you are saying here. You give me once again much to think about.

  13. I have anxiety, too. World War III has been upon us in my mind's eye. My anchor (and it sounds like your anchor is the same) is God. When I was told that I was going to have a miscarriage, I worried. I fretted. I thought of only the worst scenario, until I had a important conversation with my hubby. Who is faithful but not so very religious. He said- Put it in God's hands. So simple! Why didn't I think of that before. So that is what I did. I gave it all to God. I said, I can't handle this so please handle it for me. I trust in You.

    I'm not trying to take over your post. I loved it! It was sincere. It was honest. It so totally matched up with my thought processes.

    Oh and PS. the upper peninsula has working toilet systems and breath taking water falls. If you so decide to move up there in the midst of world war III at least you will be surrounded by beauty.

  14. I would like to exchange links with your site
    Is this possible?

  15. Praying that everything is ok. Today *is* beautiful. thanks for reminding me to see that and to thank God for the goodness. And it's Friday, even better. ;)


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