The anxious heart: Only a women’s issue?

I have shared before on this blog that my academic pursuits have taken me around the country (well the Midwest mostly until Texas!). In all this moving around, I have had to move away from family and friends, but have been blessed to move closer to other family, and to make new friends in new places.

No matter how wonderful all my new friends are, I still want to keep in touch with old friends, and my friend Emily from Kansas that now lives in Iowa (not any closer to Texas, you’ll notice!) is just such a friend :)

Yes, we’re both women, and stereotypically, women have no trouble talking on the phone. Yet somehow, months would go by and I didn’t call Emily, and she didn’t call me. We’re weren’t in a fight or anything, but we could catch up through Facebook or our husbands, who are also friends, and that would be enough… until it wasn’t.

Now Emily and I have started our own little book club. We are reading Calm My Anxious Heart by Linda Dillow. We’ve only read the first chapter so far, but I already have some thoughts to share.

I do really like it, but learning that this book was written by a woman, tells the story of a woman’s journey from anxiety to contentment, and is written through examples catered to women makes me wonder: are women the only ones who are anxious, and if so, why?

Photo Credit: R. Motti via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: R. Motti via Compfight cc

Surely it’s not true. Surely men are anxious or worried/concerned with stuff too, right?

Picking up my copy of the book, my husband said, “Oh, is this only for women? I worry about stuff too, maybe I should read it!”

I was immediately comforted.

Men worry too. Whew! It’s not just us girls!

Still though, worry is a “typical” woman thing. Typical as in most, not all, women worry from time to time. Maybe we learned it from our mothers. Maybe men learned from their fathers that worry is a “girl thing” and should not be shared.

Now that worry has been established as an everybody thing, and not just a woman thing, we can move on to my next main take-away from this book (so far).

Should any of us worry? Is worry biblical? 

Definitely not. If we just trust God, what’s there to worry about?

Easier said than done, right?

Calm My Anxious Heart begins with a story of two women, friends, who meet for coffee to discuss life. Linda (the author) isn’t looking forward to this chat because her friend has the terrible habit of finding the negative side of any experience.

I think we all know someone like this.

In contrast, Linda knows another woman, Ella, who is always happy, despite having actual life difficulties. Ella and her husband were missionaries with the pygmies in Africa for 52 years.

Hotter than the hottest day in Texas. No electricity. No air conditioning. No sewage or running water.

These are things to complain about, yet Ella never did.  She had a prescription for contentment:

  • Never allow yourself to complain about anything – not even the weather.
  • Never picture yourself in any other circumstances or someplace else.
  • Never compare your lot with another’s.
  • Never allow yourself to wish this or that had been otherwise.
  • Never dwell on tomorrow – remember that tomorrow is God’s, not ours.

I like to think of myself as a pretty happy, pleasant person, and I don’t like to complain that much. But wow. This list puts me to shame!

Photo Credit: melissaclark via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: melissaclark via Compfight cc

If we all lived this way, what a change it would make! I can’t help but think about the election, and how much news is dedicated to complaining, threatening, worrying, etc. about stuff that we really can’t do a lot to change.

Never complain about ANYTHING? Not even if the wrong person gets elected (according to you), or you don’t like the new plan,  or the speech wasn’t that good, or the outfit was terrible? Not anything?

As I read more of this book, I am going to make a more conscious effort to live for contentment. It’s going to be difficult, I know, but definitely worth it! More updates to come :)

AML

Brinkley

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Brinkley, Nov. 11, 2013

The past 13 months have been very difficult for me.  For the first time in 32 years I am without a cat. Let me give it to you in a chronological list: Oct 2012 Jericho kitty died, Nov 2012 Dusty the horse died and Mom became very ill, Dec 2012 Mom died, Jan 2013 Val Siniak died, Feb 2013 Daisy dog died, Mar I cleaned out some of mom’s stuff, April Mom’s birthday, May 2013 Ecuador trip where I nearly died from a intestinal virus, June I cleaned out ALL of Mom’s things, July was quiet and I got a puppy, August school started, September cancer diagnosis and a BIG problem with a dear friend, Oct 2013 cancer surgery and Sam kitty died, Nov 2013…so far no one has died and I am cancer free.

I’m stressed.

Brinkley isn’t helping.

I adopted Brinkley from the Harrison County Human Society.  So far he has cost me about $600 in vet services plus the damage he has done to my home and yard.  Brinkley turned 7 months old Nov 9th.  He is a good old mutt who is a cutie pie.  He can play fetch and has FINALLY figured out how to go potty OUTSIDE.  He has been a big stressor in my life.  I have seriously considered getting him a new home.  He is a considerable handful!  We have been together 3 1/2 months and he has spent that time trying to learn to be a good dog.  It is very difficult to be a good dog when there are so many things to chew and eat.  He keeps barking at me telling me to “Look! LOOK!”  In fact he talks to me a lot.  I have lost my temper with him several times.  I have placed him in doggie timeout and forced him to sleep in the front bathroom.  Every morning I pick-up and throw away his puppy pad while he tries to “help” me carry it to the trash can.  Two weeks ago he started having dry pads.  After a week of dry pads I bought him a new bed and put it in my bedroom.  Every night I place him on his bed and turn out the lights.  Five minutes later he is in bed with me.  We’ve gone through the whole “this is your bed” training program.  I quit trying when one night he carefully crawled onto my bed, snuggled up to me and gently sighed.  Such contentment was expressed in that one sigh.  Everything was right in Brinkley’s world at that moment.

My whole being relaxed at that same moment.

Brinkley is still a handful.  He pulled up the vinyl flooring in the laundry room.  He chewed holes in the rubber garden hose.  He whines while I shower and complains about not getting all the treats at one time.  He loves to watch the toilet flush and the dryer go ‘round.  He has dug up every fall plant I put out in the back yard.  He talks while I’m trying to watch my shows and sits on me when I’m trying to read.  He is goofy.  He makes me smile.

He gives great hugs.

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jcc