Category Archives: Anxiety

Forgiveness…Can’t be done..Or can it? “Victim” to Victor

I was literally gasping for air…physically choking on my own avalanche of emotion and confusion.  What did they just say? I can’t grasp this? What does this mean? Does it mean what I think it does? The relationship was severed….instantly with nothing I could do but reel physically in shock and the crushing kaleidoscope of emotions that were threatening to drown me….. trying to come up with a way to take the next step, let alone walk to my car and drive away…

I had trusted that person with my soul, my deepest pain, my heart, and they had simply dismissed me with a “flick of the hand.”  They had promised to support and help and assured me they were trustworthy…. and then..BANG they were not!!!

….when I most needed them to be.  It reminded me of the words of a song

“I leaned my back up against an oak…I thought it was a trusty tree…but first, it bent and then it broke (Bob Dylan).”

Only in my case, there was no bend!  It was an instant SNAP and CRASH!  What was even more crushing is I had no one to talk to about it. No one who could understand what this terrible tear meant in my soul. Part of me died that day and I was sure it would never EVER revive again!  The ensuing weeks and months were lived in a mindless numb shell as I carried on the functions of life without a soul.  I literally felt like a switch had been snapped between rational logic and emotion.

Those of you who know me may be shocked to know I felt that way..after all,…I am the MK (missionary kid) who knows more verses and Biblical songs by heart than most people I know…. because I was raised memorizing them and loved singing so have been called a walking hymnbook by some… But that was my reality at that point. My world was instantly catapulted into an emotional vault that words could not touch for a time.

I had been trying to learn how to trust again and the one person I thought I could trust to help me, had proved untrustworthy and walked away.  The picture I had in my mind was of being rowed out on a dark night into deep water and then told to get out of the boat and start swimming. The assurances of support and guidance were there until I was in the water and then… they were GONE! I was left to find my way back to land in the dark in water over my head… good thing I had learned how to swim as a child… but in the depths and not being sure which was land????…. God led me back to land in ways no person could.

I felt like I had been taken in for open heart surgery and then left on the table to figure out how to sew myself up, get up and walk out of there without any help from anyone. I did sew up and walk out by God’s grace alone. But in the process infection set in… and I was in a dark place of confusion between indescribable grief, despair and anguish once I processed what had happened. I would certainly never trust THEM again or ANYONE else for that matter.  Because I had no one to talk to at that point, the pain, gut-wrenching sense of loss, and confusion got buried into deep crevices in my soul like puss does in infection.  God left me alone with that dark place for a time, because we all need to know how helpless we really are before God can do anything with us… before He intervened … but that is for later. It took a full year for the emotional confusion to clear enough for me to fully grasp truth again and for God to use some wise people to carefully reinvite me into the world of trust again.

I was driving to a place of retreat and on the way was begging Him to help me out of this, to find a way back to hope and light and life if it was ever possible to recover from this kind of utter crushing? I was listening to the audio version of Andy Stanley’s Enemies of the Heart.  Trying to figure out how to get past this to a point of forgiveness… I finally understood in a powerful way how Jesus felt when his disciples deserted him in his hour of greatest need for emotional support. Andy’s book was a HUGE help in unraveling how to think about all this, but it took time for me to absorb the truths while battling the emotional blocks.  My mind still whirled and at times would be caught in a downward spiral of “How could they? and I  didn’t deserve this!!!  They completely misunderstood and misused me!! and I am all alone!! and No one understands!!”  You may also be familiar with the  “beat me up” or “beat them up.” ideas that plague the mind in these dark moments of the soul? The Psalms are replete with David’s thoughts like this.

I was aware in the fog of emotion that I was in a battle of a lifetime to regain control of my mind and in doing so I would be able to stop this emotional volcano. I had no idea how to do it. So I begged God for help and below is what I did.  (I have now told enough people these steps that I thought it was time to put it in one place so I can send people here who ask me how I was able to, not only forgive, but enjoy spending time with this person again.)

“I realized that the deepest spiritual lessons
are not learned by His letting us have our way in the end,
but by His making us wait,
bearing with us in love and patience
until we are able to honestly pray
what He taught His disciples to pray:
Thy will be done.”
~ Elizabeth Elliot
(for those who may not know her story, her husband was killed senselessly.
You can read about it, in this book. Through Gates of Splendor)
I love how God patiently waits when we are in these dark places until we can see Him and then gently helps us to walk out of it. He truly is the Gentle Shepherd!
I  have learned a great deal in the months and years since then, but to begin with, this was the first most important step and lesson. .. I can say much more about the Biblical verses. I knew those but I had never been in a place like this where words meant nothing and I could not control the raging emotional overload. A pressure cooker had exploded all over my soul and I had to find a way to put the pieces back together.  I will develop more of the Biblical part of this in the coming weeks but for now, this had to be step one!
 I am going to be very practical with this because the pat “you just need to forgive them” was simply not working!!
I needed a real way to get out of this tunnel of emotion!!!
The first thing I needed to think was “not forgiving was actually giving ammunition to them. It was hurting me, not them. It was allowing them to continue to ruin my life.” That was NOT ok with me. I NEVER wanted them to ever have any control over me again!
Once I fully realized that I was not willing to give them that kind of control over my emotions and mind anymore. They had betrayed me.  Jesus Never did. He had to be the controller of my mind and emotions!
Then I learned that forgiveness is a process… it’s not a one-time Act. Every time thoughts of that person came into my mind I had to intentionally tell God I needed help to forget them.
Then I had to force my mind to go somewhere else regardless of how my emotions were raging.  It truly was one of the most difficult things I have ever done!!! But I was determined to win by God’s grace!
I knew I could not take it on all at once so I picked one the specific times of day that were often trigger points. Usually, times when I could be alone with my thoughts, like when getting dressed or showering or driving to work.
I picked…
driving to work time.
Then EVERY day for 3 weeks, I refused to allow thoughts of that situation to control my mind for that time.  When a thought would hit, I would intentionally force my mind elsewhere by praying, singing good songs, like these ones,   Beside Gentle Streams: Hope for Hurting Hearts.  or this one Don’t be Afraid, reciting verses, calling someone to encourage them, or things like that.
The first day was impossible but I  got a few mins of relief, the rest of the week was nearly impossible..lots of tears…begging God for help…
When God wants to do something big,
He starts with an impossibility,
then it is difficult,
and then it is done!
~Hudson Taylor
The second week got a little bit better. I would play good music, I would think about the things I loved…I would pray, I would sing or play good music.
By the third week, I could see the thought pattern was finally breaking and with it some of the deep crushing emotion. So I picked another point of the day that I used to dwell on those thoughts and went after it in the same way. It was easier but still a challenge.
I kept working at it till each point of the day was broken, despite setbacks, and in time the pain Eased, the soul-crushing grief became manageable and I could move on.  I learned the real truth of the verse “having your senses exercised…Hebrews 5:14” (that word exercise in greek is the word we get  “gym” from. We develop brain cells just the way we develop other muscles in the body by working them which gives all new meaning to Romans 12:1-2 and especially the phrase “renewing your mind…”.  I have learned lots about the science behind mind, emotion connection as well. (more later)
My motivator was that these people were no longer allowed to control my emotions and my life. God was the only one who got to do that!
Thinking this way rather than trying to determine whether or not they deserved it, helped,….they didn’t deserve forgiveness…neither did I….none of us “deserve” it, we were all eternally condemned till Jesus died for us… We have to turn to Him, recognize him as God, believe that his death on the cross paid the penalty and ask for His forgiveness ourselves to guarantee a place in heaven. Keeping this truth in focus also helped!
It really had to be about getting back my life, my heart, my emotions, My Hope in Christ, My joy in Him, my ability to serve Him, separate from any other person.
What God has done since then is more writing and God’s work in progress.
Gentle Shepherd
Oh, the Lord is my Gentle Shepherd showing me the way.
Through the darkness, through the sunshine,
He will never lead astray.
He is with me ev’ry moment, He’s in my heart to stay.
Oh I feel His arms around me, and I hear Him gently say:
~~~~~
I am the Gentle Shepherd watching over you.
I am the Gentle Shepherd and I’ll surely see you through.
I have been where you’re going and I know what you have to do.
Oh, I am the Gentle Shepherd, and I gave my life for you.
~~~~~
If you’re looking for a Saviour, looking for a friend,
Oh let Jesus be your Shepherd, He will love you till the end.
The door is always open, come now and don’t delay.
And He’ll be your loving Shepherd; He will guide you all the way.
~~~~~
He is the Gentle Shepherd, watching over you.
He is the Gentle Shepherd, and He’ll surely see you through.
He has been where you’re going, and he knows what you have to do.
Oh, He is the Gentle Shepherd, and He gave His life for you.
He is the Gentle Shepherd.
words by Duane Nichols, music by Duane Nichols and Mary Lynn Van Gelderen
recorded on Come and Sing by the Stouffer Men.

Light in Brokenness

I have so many dear friends who are going through such deep waters right now. My heart aches for them as they deal with death and cancer and loss of other ones. it makes me thankful that I know the Incredible God of Comfort who has comforted me, (2 Cor 1) can comfort them. As believers we sorrow not as others, but we do sorrow. One of the greatest comforts to me when my father died was the verse, “Jesus wept.” We have an intercessor who knows our grief! He is touched with the feelings of our weaknesses and prays for us with groanings that cannot be uttered. Roms 8:26 And we weep with those who weep! Ecc. 3.  We wonder why we, or those we consider dear, go through hard things. It is because when we are broken our light shines to others around us who need to see Jesus.  His light then enters into their hurting places and gives them peace that passes understanding!  My friends are doing this! Shining radiant lights of Christ in their broken places!

When I was a student at the NBBI, one Christmas my roommate gave me a Precious Moments bell as a gift. I loved that bell and I put it in a prominent place on my dresser. This cute little clown on a roller skate upside down just spoke of joy and for most of my life, I have had that interior sense of adventure. I love music, I love going to new places, I love experiencing new things, I love being with new people, I love the fun of friendship and adventure. One day when I wasn’t paying attention I was moving some things across my dresser too quickly and knocked that bell on the floor and it shattered into a thousand pieces. As I began to clean it up, getting ready to throw it away, I noticed the back piece had not broken. It was still intact, and it said, “Our life will always be in balance when we keep our eyes on Him.” I knew right then I needed to put that bell back together and keep it for the rest of my life. Like another Precious Moments figurine, it has a prominent place wherever I have lived because of the lessons that it taught me. First of all that we have to keep our eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross; despising the shame. (Heb 11:1) Being broken, we shine out the light that is inside of us much more effectively than we ever would when we aren’t broken. The light shines through all the cracks in our armor. Then people want to know what that light is inside.  Doctors and nurses need Jesus too! Paul said, “that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of his suffering.” (Phil 3:10.) We all want the power of the resurrection. We do not want to embrace the fellowship of suffering! But things happen in us when we suffer. You don’t get to really know someone till you walk with them in pain and suffering! God in His faithfulness breaks us so that we are more effective in shining His glory and His light to the world than we would be if we kept our nice neat perfect life intact. We have to be willing to deal with brokenness and let it change us and the process that it takes for God to put us back together when our lives are shattered. When he’s done we might look at it and think it’s not perfect anymore but He has put it back together in a way that allows the light to shine for the world to see. “Most gladly, therefore, will I glory in my weaknesses that the power of Christ may rest upon me. (2 Cor 12:9-10) But let it be [the inner beauty of] the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality and unfading charm of a gentle and peaceful spirit, [one that is calm and self-controlled, not overanxious, but serene and spiritually mature] which is very precious in the sight of God. But in your hearts set Christ apart [as holy–acknowledging Him, giving Him first place in your lives] as Lord. Always be ready to give a [logical] defense to anyone who asks you to account for the hope and confident assurance [elicited by faith] that is within you, yet [do it] with gentleness and respect. (1 Peter 3:4, 15 AMP)

“Open the gates, that the righteous nation may enter, The one that remains faithful. “The steadfast of mind You will keep in perfect peace, Because he trusts in You. “Trust in the Lord forever, For in God the Lord, we have an everlasting Rock. The way of the righteous is smooth; O Upright One, make the path of the righteous level. Indeed, while following the way of Your judgments, O Lord, We have waited for You eagerly; Your name, even Your memory, is the desire of our souls. At night my soul longs for You, Indeed, my spirit within me seeks You diligently; For when the earth experiences Your judgments The inhabitants of the world learn righteousness. Lord, You will establish peace for us, Since You have also performed for us all our works. O Lord our God, other masters besides You have ruled us; But through You alone, we confess Your name. O Lord, they sought You in distress; They could only whisper a prayer..(Isaiah 26:2-4, 7-9, 12-13, 16 NASB)

Wasps and Spiders

This is a true story that happened probably 15 years ago. It is one I love being constantly reminded of and so I kept a visual.
When I was teaching in Greenville County, I taught students who had emotional struggles that made it difficult for them to learn. It took a great deal of emotional energy and spiritual courage to work with them every day and help them grow and learn. I often left my house at 6 in the morning and never got back to it till 7:30 or 8 at night. One thing I did learn early on was I had to leave school at school because with that kind of intense work you can’t take it home, so when you get home you choose to rest.
One particular day when I was especially exhausted I came home to find a problem on my front porch. I generally like most critters but there are some critters I’m not friends with….wood-boring wasps would be one of them. As I stood at my door getting ready to unlock it, I happened to glance up and saw this wasp nest that I have pictured here being built in the corner of my front porch. I looked at it and literally said, “Lord I’m exhausted, you said you would be my father, I need you to take care of that wasp nest. I’m too tired to even play with it and I just don’t have time to go buy wasp killer right now.”
I didn’t give it much thought. I just went in the house went about my business getting supper, went to bed, and slept. The next day I got up and took off for school, worked all day and came home again just as tired.
Out of curiosity I glanced up in that corner thinking I wonder…. and when I did, I saw this Giant spider….to this day I wish I had taken a picture of him….well he may have been a she… I didn’t get the pic…., but he/she was probably a solid half inch across just in the body, forget about the legs. He really was one of the biggest spiders I’ve ever seen in North America ( I have to say North America because I was born in Ethiopia…. we saw big spiders there.) As I stood there watching him I said.. “Really Lord? First the wasps and now a spider? Is my house going to be overtaken by insects?”
And then I stopped and watched more closely. Proverbs talks about going to the ant and watching the insects and learning from them. As I stood there and watched, I realized the spider had methodically built its web so that it completely encompassed and enclosed the wasp nest. That spider was after those nasty wasps. Up until that moment, I had not thought about the fact that spiders eat wasps. I learned something new that day! Within a couple of days all of the wasps were gone and with them, so was the spider. I took the nest down to keep as a reminder!
More importantly, I learned a lesson about God and His care for us. He really does command His little creatures to do what He wants them to do. It reminded me of a story I read once of a man who was in enemy territory somewhere in the world and he was trying to escape for his life and as he ran he saw a cave, so he ducked inside the cave hoping to elude his pursuers. As he lay there hunched in the corner gasping for air praying and begging God to spare his life, he noticed a spider building its web across the entrance. He immediately thought, “Well that’s pretty ridiculous how flimsy is a spider’s web? That’s not going to stop them from coming in to get me!”
But like me, he was too tired from running to do anything about it, so he laid there and watched the spider. If you’ve ever taken the time to watch a spider build its web it’s truly fascinating… I have.
But I digress,… several minutes later the enemy came running, saw the cave and started to come in to check and see if he was in there. But they immediately stopped when they saw the spider’s web and said: “he can’t be in there, he would have broken the web.” So they went on their way. He waited a long time and then was able to get out and escape and tell the rest of the world this amazing story.
Do you watch the little creatures around you? Do you know God has lessons He wants to teach you through them?
My lesson that day was that God truly does take care of his own, He knows our frame He remembers that we are dust Psalms 103:14. He is Our Redeemer our Father and husband as Isaiah 54 talks about. And He is the Good Shepherd who takes care of His sheep. Ps 23, John 15
What’s really sweet is that He cares about the little details of our lives as well as the big ones. I never would have thought He would have taken care of my wasps for me. but on that particular day, He truly understood how weary I was and how much I needed to know that He was going to take care of all of my needs. It reminds me what an incredibly patient caring loving Father we have!

Endurance chapter: a sneak peak.

This is the first part of the chapter I wrote that is published in Endurance going the distance.   If you want to read more feel free to order a copy of the book  here. Endurance: going the distance from the valley to the mountain.

Hebrews 10:35-36  Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great recompense of reward.  For you have need of patience, so that after you have done the will of God you might receive the promise.

Ruth E. Meed BA MAT MS

I keenly remember the unusual extreme anxiety that gripped my chest. The unexplained pain in my back would not ease. The desperately itchy rash covering my body had not subsided with the doctor recommended medications. I was alone, pacing my house, praying, with no answers to handle the pain and itching. As I did, a sudden shock wave of electricity started to burn its way from my neck down through my left arm causing it to curl and stiffen up until I could not move it anymore. This searing sizzle continued down my left side to my leg which then also curled up, then across to the right leg which instantly froze. I collapsed into a chair because I could no longer move and all my muscles were tightening up to complete rigidity. I had just three fingers of my right hand still moving and I used them to dial 911. This began the story of the last seven years. I was getting no answers from the medical professionals. Two days later the paralysis happened again, this time my entire body froze for 20 mins. I was conscious but unable to move. Doctors varied from saying something was very seriously wrong with me to telling me I had a self-created mental problem. I had no answers, I had no hope medically.  I was getting weaker and sicker and helplessly wondered if I was dying.  I had to hope in God or give up and die.

I languished on the couch that next Sunday unable to do much of anything, let alone attend church. I turned on the radio to listen to a local church broadcast. The preacher said, “Today we’re going to talk about storms and how you can handle that storm, so let’s look at the life of Peter and his walk on the water.” (Matt 14:23-34) He spent the next 30 minutes talking about trusting God and how sometimes God puts us in a “boat” and sends us into the middle of a storm to show Himself strong. He also pointed out that even when we fail to trust Jesus, sinking like Peter, He still reaches out to help us the minute we ask Him. I felt in that moment like God in His kindness had reached down to personally encourage me.

When that broadcast finished, another service came on. This next pastor said, “Folks, I want you to turn in your Bibles to the passage in the New Testament about the storm on the Sea of Galilee and today we will discuss how we deal with storms by looking at Peter’s walk on the water…”  I nearly gasped aloud realizing that My Loving Shepherd had providentially orchestrated both of those messages, one right after the other, to encourage me to trust Him when I had no answers.

After lunch, I listened to the morning service from my church. My pastor was reviewing what he had covered so far in Isaiah. He repeatedly rehearsed the theme of Isaiah ‘Trust ye in the Holy One of Israel alone, for He only is salvation.’” He related this concept to how we deal with troubles in our lives. “We can be distressed.  Life can be full of questions and hard things, but we can always trust the hand of our Loving Father to guide us THROUGH them.”  I lay there basking in the feeling of those healing Words washing over my soul.  The almost palpable hug from God, assuring me He was walking with me, through these three messages from three different sources over four hours’ time, could not be mistaken. My Loving Lord in His Sovereignty had orchestrated that day’s programing to tell me that I could trust Him in this storm.

That was August 2010. By January 2011, I could no longer walk, or balance myself.  I could not think straight to read or write. Something was very wrong. The doctor told me there was nothing more she could do and to pray that my body would get better.

Beside Gentle Streams Music CD

This collection of 17 vocal and instrumental pieces is designed to comfort the hurting or discouraged heart. It is set in the classical sacred music style with pieces that will soothe the mind and body. Cost is 12.99 US plus shipping.  You can pay with any credit card or click buy now to be redirected to PayPal. or if you prefer, contact me directly for information on how and where to mail a check. Ruth.meed@gmail.com.  For Canadians, the cost is close to $17.00 by the time you figure in exchange rates and you can send Interact transfers to the above address as well.

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