Everyone experiences anxiety from time to time. There are all kinds of things that can bring on that sweaty hands, all-consuming angst that just leaves you feeling weary. For me, pregnancy seems to be a vessel that my anxiety rides on. I have had varying degrees of anxiety during my four pregnancies. My first seemed fraught with anxiety that my baby wouldn’t be okay, or that he would somehow be hurt by something I did. During my second pregnancy, my anxiety got so bad that I actually struggled with postpartum depression for nearly a year before the fog lifted enough that I realized something was wrong. Each time the feelings seemed to creep up on me and had the potential to leave me feeling less than in control.
As I’m nearing the end of my fourth pregnancy, I’m finding the same things that triggered my anxiety in my second pregnancy are beginning to trigger anxiety during this one. My triggers are: bickering between my children, aloneness for too many hours in the day, not having a plan or knowing the schedule for an upcoming event, prolonged loud noises, and my biggest one–the neighborhood kids.
Yes, you read that right. I live right next to an elementary school. I am surrounded by school-aged children. I hear them constantly. They don’t bother me when they are at school. The sounds of them playing and yelling during recess cause me no alarm. Their chattering as they walk to school in the morning doesn’t phase me. Sure we’ve had a ding-dong-ditcher a time or two in the morning, but generally mornings aren’t an issue. No it’s after school that my anxiety really peaks.
They’re walking home and I hear them. I hear them swearing, screaming profanities in front of my house. I hear them playing and horsing around. I hear them running up onto my carport and sometimes ringing my doorbell and running away as fast as they can. I hear them after the crossing guard has closed the gate and gone home. I hear them running, riding bikes and scooters, and yelling to each other from across the street. And I see them. I see them riding and running through the four-way stop that only half of the neighborhood observes, without even looking. I see them going back and forth in front of my house throwing garbage and sticks at one another. I see them hanging on the gate and swinging it as hard as they can trying to break the lock and chain on it; yanking and kicking the signs on the gate trying to rip them off. I see them, I hear them, and they disturb me.
I worry that they’ll try to get in my backyard and steal my children’s toys again. I worry that they’ll climb the trees outside my fence and throw things at my windows again. I worry that they’ll damage one of my vehicles or get hurt on my property or teach my children a word that I’d rather they not know. I worry that they’ll be hit by a careless driver as they play in the middle of the street. I worry that they’ll break out in a fight that I am helpless to stop. I worry. And so the days go. As my pregnancy progresses it usually gets worse. I wake up in the morning dreading the afternoon. I find myself agonizing over the squeaking sound of the gate opening in the afternoon, signaling school’s release. I find myself worrying incessantly about them, and my children, and my house, and me.
And then when the baby comes, in that period when life should be sunshine and roses and snuggles and soft baby smells, I worry. They disturb me. I get mad that they’re so incredibly loud right outside my house when my sweet, peaceful baby is resting. I get worried that they’ll come to the door or window and look in while I’m breastfeeding and bonding with my baby. And when I let all of that worry and anxiety envelop me, I get lost in it. And then I yell at MY children. I get frustrated and upset at every unhappy sound or too loud noise or extra question they ask. It is nothing more than Satan finding a foothold in my life. It’s happened once postpartum and I will not let it happen again.
As I feel this all-too-familiar anxiety creep over me, I am beginning with a plan this time. I will not allow these feelings to control me. I will not allow a cloud of depression to steal away my memories of my baby’s first weeks. I will not allow Satan into my home and my emotions.
Matthew 6:34: Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
This verse always makes me chuckle! Each day has enough trouble of its own. Isn’t that so true? Why would we waste a moment worrying about the events of another day when there is more than enough worry for today?
Phillipians 4:6-7: Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
This verse gives me a road map for exactly what I need to do. I need to stop being anxious, bring my worries to the Lord through prayer, and I will be filled with the peace of God that will guard my heart and mind. How encouraging! And how simple!
I recently listened to a sermon in which the speaker was commenting on the fact that we often rely on prayer as a last resort. We say, “Well we’ve tried everything else, now it’s up to God” or “All we can do now is pray.” This really struck a chord with me. How often do I waste time worrying and fretting over something and finally I’ll resort to prayer? Why didn’t I seek the comfort only the Lord can bring in the beginning? This is definitely something that I plan to work on.
Do you ever experience increased anxiety during certain times of your life?
How do you cope with the anxiety you feel?