Anxiously Chasing After Well-Being

It has happened. My mental health has caught up with my physical health.

It started a few weeks ago. If you read this blog, maybe you remember my crazy, frantic posts. That was precisely my state of mind. There was no peace, no rest in my mind. My heart was racing constantly, my brain was grinding its gears like a poorly oiled machine.

My appetite has been on the decline lately, which is weird for me. You see, I have always loved food. I was never a finicky eater. As a kid, I devoured the world. Five slices of pizza, three hotdogs, a half pound steak followed by an ice cream, nothing could faze me. A few episodes of acid relfux, however, served as a good wake-up call. When my growth spurt ended, this calmed down a little, but I was still capable of great fetes of feasting, and even took pride in this. No traumatizing event could keep me from eating for long. In fact, sometimes I would eat more in hard times to try to fill the void. 

For a while, I have had a concept of healthy eating, but didn’t follow through most of the time. I didn’t turn down the sweets, and I made no valiant effort to really change my lifestyle. 

I always thought that if I just ate real food, vegetables, and fruits (and some of the other stuff), then everything would be okay. 

So, anyway, now I’m eating about 1000 calories a day because I can’t eat any more, and even that seems like too much. Nothing seems to get along that well with my stomach. And this in it of itself may not be a problem. If I can get by on less, then why not? Many would probably love to have less appetite. Isn’t it just American culture that shuns any kind of minimalism?  

I am also experiencing diziness, lack of balance, fatigue, and some other symptoms as well that I would rather not go into.

What does it all mean? Are my efforts futile? Should I go on a cupcake diet and see if that does the trick? I do not deny that I am a little discouraged, but I wouldn’t say that it was all for nought. The reality is that I have been healthier relative to myself, but obviously I am not doing enough. I know I can do more. I know I can fight harder. Yesterday I went to Inn-n-Out (in my defense, I only had about 500 calories), and today I had a slice of homemade pizza even though I told myself I was only going to eat fruits and vegetables. So clearly I am not a total hippy-dippy, even though my body probably needs me to be. 

What I’ve learned from this is that sometimes being healthy isn’t as easy as it sounds. Sometimes you need to go to extremes, swallow your pride, and start eating tofu. I’ve learned that I need to stop being a crybaby- health problems are nothing new. I will accept this challenge from God. I will try to survive, I will try to stop worrying because anxiety is what triggered some of these problems in the first place. And I will see the doctor as soon as possible so I can stop wondering at least.

I Once Had a Christian Professor

I really think so. On the last day of class, he gave us an inspirational speech on how we shouldn’t be afraid to enter the real world and pursue a career in accounting. It truly was stirring. In the midst of the applause, he showed us the last slide on his slideshow, this verse, or one very similar:

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and love and of a sound mind”
2 Timothy 1:7

I stared at this slide for a moment as everyone else shuffled out. What bravery, what feeling from my dry professor! I looked at it with that serene, but somehow guarded approval that Christians occasionally bestow upon one another.

Later that night, I was reflecting on these words on the long drive home in the dark. Suddenly, there seemed like so much to fear, but I couldn’t put my finger on any of it. I needed the remembrance of those words to prevent myself from having a panic attack.

These words have special significance to me as a person with anxiety. Fear seems to be the driver of my existence. Power? Love? Soundness of mind? Those all seem like strangers, and I confess that at times I feel so overtaken by darkness that those words seem to have no real meaning.

Why all this despair? You may ask. That is a question that I can’t easily answer. But what I can say is that it springs from a lack of faith. A lack of faith in absolutely everything. Lack of faith in God, lack of faith in good, lack of faith in people. My mind, which hates to take things at face value, questions everything, including the merit of goodness itself. Isn’t that awful?

It seems that the day will come when I’ll run out of energy to fight this. And indeed, I already have. So I crawl at the Lord’s feet and beg for the will to go on, to live, and help others live. And then, feeling just a little recharged, I go out and try to fight Satan’s whole army once again, only to be taken as a prisoner of war, at this point sympathetic to his cause. And then the Lord has to ransom me back all over again.

“Stop going out there by yourself so glaringly unarmed,” he tells me. But do I listen? Do I obey like the good sheep?

No!

I keep waiting for the day that he runs out of patience, love, and forgiveness. I suspect he already has. But how can He? He is God.

Reasonable Mind Dukes it out with Miserable Mind

R: So, ever considered being happy?

M: Happy? What for?

Nah, just kidding. Of course I’ve considered it, I think about it every day.

Then why don’t you do it?

Well, it’s more complicated than that. I mean sure, happy sounds good, you know, sort of by way of definition… but I don’t know if it works for everyone. And you can’t just flip a switch and it happens.

That is true. But I guess a good start would be to stop being miserable.

Yeah, I could, but…

But…

There are pluses and minuses to both. I mean, to be happy means putting in a lot of work. And for what, just so something can come in and tear it down? 

Right, but isn’t it still worth it? Wouldn’t a threat to your happiness just make it all the more valuable and desirable?

No, not really. And there’s another thing- happy just isn’t me. If I start being happy now, that’ll be like proving that I was wrong earlier. It’s much easier to leave things the way they are.

So this is about your ego? You’re just afraid of being wrong?

I wouldn’t say that.

So you don’t get a little ego boost from being miserable and misunderstood, in your own sick kind of way, if I may say so?

No. And you’re not even addressing the main point. I have no reason to be happy. Nothing to look forward to. Nothing.

Why don’t you have a reason? Who does have a reason?

Some people do, yes, I would say so. People who have x,y, and z

But don’t you have a,b, and c?

Yes, but you see, that’s just not nearly as wonderful and satisfying as x,y, and z.

Why can’t you be happy with a,b, and c?

Well, I told you, I don’t have x,y, and z.

Could you be happy for those people?

I don’t see how that’s possible.

You could try.

Why should I? Why do they even have it? Life isn’t fair. They don’t even deserve it.

And you do? Why? What good have you ever done?

_____________

Is that really so good?

No, I guess not. 

Okay, then why don’t they deserve it?

They’re sinners.

Aren’t you too?

Yes.

Haven’t you committed all the same sins as everyone else, and more?

Precisely.

But you deserve it, and they don’t? It’s bad that they have it, but good when you have it, because somehow you deserve it?

Stop asking leading questions.

I’m just trying to understand. What makes them worse?

I don’t know. It’s just different when they do bad stuff.

It’s just different when they do bad stuff. That sounds stupid.

I know it does, but what choice do I have?

Let me ask you something- aren’t you Christian?

Oh, yes.

Don’t you believe that the sole purpose of our being on earth is to worship God?

Yes, that’s a nice way of putting it.

Thank you. So why don’t you do that?

I don’t know. I’d kind of like to. Sometimes it seems like a really good idea. But I just can’t. There’s too many hours in the day. 

But you believe it?

Oh, with all my heart and soul!

Okay…

Oh, look, I have to go soon. I’m supposed to write this depressing poem in like five minutes.

Right, okay. Well, I’m glad we could do this.

Yeah, yeah, it was great, we’ll have to do it again.

Well, have a nice day. 

 

 

A Repose in the Battle

Madness disguises itself as reason

And robs me of my joy, my compassion, and life itself

Passion alone is a dead end

Ruminating is my ruin

The only joy and peace is involuntary

It comes upon me against my will

It laughs at my silly thoughts

And my soul, for an instant, bursts open

 

I’m tired of the wrestling,

I don’t want to play the game anymore

I just want to exist, and feel, and be blessed 

And I don’t care if the best part of me

Is the part that comes not from me

Why Sandwiches Are Evil

Okay, the title is kind of a joke to catch your attention… Did it work? But seriously, did you know that protein and starch is technically a bad food combination because one digests in an acid and one in alkaline? If you didn’t know, aren’t you really mad at me for telling you that? I found out the other day by doing a somewhat related Google search, and I know I was upset. I’d always believed the opposite- that protein and starch somehow balance each other out and go well together. I believed the food pyramid of lies. I’ll bet the pyramid builders didn’t want to rock the boat because they’re all in bed with the big food corporations. Okay, so I didn’t actually take it that far, but the resentment is real. 

There are actually many “bad food combinations.” You don’t usually hear about them in our if-it-tastes-good-eat-it society, but they are out there. In Asian cultures, these are more often heeded (but not necessarily the protein-starch one). You can dismiss them as old wives tales, and indeed, maybe some of the liver+x=death ones are exaggerations, but there might be something to it. I mean, don’t you sometimes get that less-than-awesome feeling after a meal for no apparent reason? 

These are some of the important ones, I think.

1. Egg + sweet potato- don’t do it!

2. Chicken + celery- contrary to everything we’ve believed in

3. Melons+anything

4. Acid+peanut butter (Actually, acid does not go well with protein in general, but this particular combo has ruined my day before. But it doesn’t affect some people)

5. Banana + milk- this one is for real

6. Spaghetti- I know, I want to cry :(

7. Sugar and starch- still crying

 

The reality is that we will probably not follow the rules of food combining all the time because there are so many of them that I didn’t even mention here and life is very busy. But, I think awareness does help. If we know that protein+starch= :(, then we may do it less, throw in a legume (peanut, bean, pea) to help the process, or eat some veggies with it. Our bodies are forgiving, but we shouldn’t take advantage of this forgiveness all the time. 

 

Where I got this info:

No. 5 &6: http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-3615/10-Common-Food-Combinations-That-Wreak-Havoc-on-Your-Health.html

No. 1& 7 (Do check out this website): http://www.acidalkalinediet.net/correct-food-combining-principles.php

And the thing about the legumes: http://www.trustedhands.com/content/fcbeg.pdf

 

 

The Brood of Vipers

I’ve never been a particular fan of snakes, much less a brood of them (that just sounds disgusting), so if someone called me that, I’d be pretty offended. And that’s just the thing- Jesus is talking to me too.

“You brood of vipers, how can you, being evil, speak what is good? For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart.”
-Matthew 12:34 NASB

We often see the kind, compassionate Jesus, but many are uncomfortable with the angry one. We need to keep in mind that He is God. He has the authority to punish us. This reminds me of a mother or father who hates to watch their child screw up, so they eventually resort to name-calling and anger- anything that will get through to the stubborn kid.

So who is the brood of vipers? The Pharisees. The hypocrites.

Me.

It’s not the prostitutes or thieves that Jesus yells at, but the religious people of his time. The goodie goodies. Why do we think that is?

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside they are full of robbery and self-indulgence.”

The other day, I looked in the mirror, and I did not like what I saw. This literally happened, by the way, not just a soul-searching thing. The face that stared back wasn’t the happy face on my student ID or in my old pictures. It looked tired and anxious at the same time. Robbed of joy and the glow of youth. It looked like the face of someone who was very unwell.

What happened to me? Shouldn’t I be holy by now? I’ve been abstaining from stuff, working more, trying harder, eating better…

But in the process, I missed out on something very important. I lost joy, hope, peace, love, sense of humor, energy, and quirkiness. I’d cleaned the outside, but the inside was still very bad and empty, in some ways worse, because I was allowing pride, jealousy, fear, and wrath to remain.

I am beginning to understand all kinds of hypocrisy. I am beginning to understand the Inquisitions, Holy Wars, oppressions, divisions, and squabbles. I am beginning to understand why gossipy church wives have remained gossipy and why many would rather be burned at stake than call themselves a Christian.

But I still don’t blame God. I don’t blame the Gospel for turning people into jerks. I also understand why people don’t want to be Christian. Because I know that I myself have fed into these negative images. I know because someone told me so in a very un-subtle way.

So I’m not going to point out that it’s some kind of logical fallacy to claim that because Christians are bad, Christianity is bad. But I will defend the message and believe in it. I will say that it is not the balmy love and mercy of Jesus Christ that causes us to act like jerks, but it is the cold, self-righteous religion that we impose upon ourselves without even realizing it. It is going through the motions and dressing up the ugliness with a facade of meekness and piety. Cleaning the outside of the cup while the inside is all moldy and gross.

It’s amazing that it’s so easy to get on the wrong track. You get on the wrong track, you realize it, you want to go back because it’s getting dark, but you keep going because something tells you it’ll pay off.

It’s so easy to get caught up in little rules and miss the boat on the big stuff.

“…Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing.”
Luke 10:41 NRSV

But what, what exactly is that one thing? Don’t we already acknowledge that thing, every time we pray and say things like “With the Lord’s help, with Christ who lives in me, etc?”

So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God. (‭James‬ ‭1‬:‭19-20‬ NKJV)
So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.

For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does. (‭James‬ ‭1‬:‭19-20, 23-25‬ NKJV)

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. (‭Ephesians‬ ‭2‬:‭8-10‬ NKJV)

So if I love God, I must prove it. It’s as simple and impossible as that.

What’s Really Going On (Spiritual Warfare Trigger Warning)

I guess I shouldn’t try to exact sympathy. It’s got to be my fault that I’ve let my mind become the violent battleground of God and Satan. I could have just let Christ’s victory on the cross be enough. But no, I had to have my own absurd, psychotic, philosophical war which makes so little sense that I can’t even begin to describe it properly. And yet here I am talking about it. 

I wish there was some kind of drug you could take to wipe your mind clear, like amnesia. I’d trade any intelligence I have for a day of peace. 

But there’s not, and I can’t. The easy way out isn’t the right way out. 

How did this all begin? And what justification is there for it? My life is more peaceful than usual, on the outside. Really, I’ve made peace with a lot of things. I’ve made peace with loneliness in a way. I’m grateful that my family seems to love me, despite all the reasons not to. I’ve slowed down the pace in the rat race. I have no particular beefs with anyone because people have generally been good to me, so it seems that Satan has decided to turn me against the human race in general, forcing me to philosophize, judge, mistrust, and hate when I obviously have no right to do any of that when I am apparently a million times more screwed up than anyone just for entertaining these evil thoughts.

This is all so confusing. I am torn between two poles: a hateful, jealous, violent, destructive, disgusting one, and a kind, loving, forgiving, peaceful one. I guess I’m somewhere in the middle. I would just like to be on the second pole. Or would I?

Of course, a lot of this has to do with too much free time and a lack of focus. And that’s certainly part of it. Sometimes these thoughts go away, or God drives them away… but they always seem to return. Because it’s hard to forget what you know. 

I know this all seems really dark and hopeless, and in a way it is, because it’s not an easy problem to solve. But I still believe that I’m saved. I know, I know, Christians are supposed to be good, sane, and normal people. Yeah, I get it. It makes a little sense if you’re a mess before you’re saved, but afterward? That’s just not… good. And I don’t claim to be good. I don’t think this is good, but that doesn’t mean that good can’t come out of it. Good can come out of it in the same way a plant can grow in the ashes of a house fire (that does happen, right?)

I mean this- that I am sharing this story (again) in the hope that it will glorify God. Why not? Why isn’t it to God’s glory if He can save even miserable people like me? Why isn’t it a miracle that I feel loved by Him, in spite of it all?

But right here is where one of my pitfalls is. Sometimes I focus too much on my personal relationship with God, forgetting that so many people have personal relationships with God and will have personal relationships with God. Sometimes I feel that it is just me vs. this evil, superficial society and its endless members whom I am supposed to love, somehow. 

Lord, I’ve admitted the sin, please help me to truly despise it with all my heart and soul and turn from it! Anyone out there who’s reading this, please pray for me, not for my own sake, but for the sake of those around me who deserve my genuine love and not the politeness that masks my depression. If you don’t understand anything I’ve said, then give yourself a pat on the back. You are likely a sane and upright human being. If you do understand, thank you. If you understand too much, please let us bear this burden together in spirit. 

And now I’m a bit teary again, what’s new.