HELP! I HAVE ANXIETY AND DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO!

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With so many ways for reducing or beating anxiety why do we still suffer  with anxiety?

What do I do with my anxiety? It is a burden that is heavy and drags me down. I wake up distressed by my worries and cares so much so, I can barely face the day. I end the day overwhelmed with all that has happened. I faced the day where once again my fears and anxiety has thrown me into emptiness and despair. I long to sleep, hoping that for a few restless hours, I may find some peace for my weary soul. But as I fall asleep, I am reminded that when I wake, I will once again face another day, just like the one I had today. Burden on backThese are the thoughts of living with the weight of anxiety and dread. Our hearts cry out for some relief, no matter how small it may be. We desperately seek some sort of reprieve from our worries and cares. We hope for just a few hours of truly restful sleep and somehow dare to imagine a new day without our anxiety dragging us down. So what do we do with our stress? There are many suggestions on how to control anxiety; there is meditation, the practice of grounding, practicing mindfulness, deep breathing and of course the many medications available to help reduce anxiety. A quick web search of the topic of lowering anxiety yielded these results. 22 quick tips to change your anxiety forever, 7 ways to calm your anxiety, 10 relaxation techniques to reduce stress, 15 easy ways to beat anxiety, 16 simple ways to relieve stress and anxiety, 9 ways to reduce anxiety right now, 7 simple tips to ease anxiety, 19 natural remedies for anxiety and 36 simple ways to quite your anxiety. With so many ways of reducing or beating anxiety why do we still suffer so much with anxiety?

Here at Healing the Storm, we believe that the primary way of handling our anxiety is found in casting our anxiety and cares upon God. Psalms 55:22 tells us “Cast your cares on the Lord, and He will sustain you; He will never let the righteous be shaken.” and 1 Peter 5:7 “Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.” While the many different techniques for handling anxiety may be helpful, we believe the essential and decisive way of handling our anxiety is to cast our cares upon God. The word casting is a verb, and when used with an object such as anxiety it denotes to throw, hurl or fling, to throw off or away from, or to cause something to fall on something else. The Scripture tells us to throw, hurl or toss our anxiety, to throw it off or throw it away by causing it to fall on something else. So what is it we are to throw our anxiety on? Both the Psalmist and Peter tell us the object we are to cast or throw our anxiety on is God. Black-People-300x169We see in these two verses there are three benefits of casting our anxiety on God. The first is that God will sustain us; He will support, hold up and bear our burden and anxiety for us. He will endure without giving in or yielding to the weight of our distress. He will carry and embrace our anxiety, so we do not have to carry it ourselves. Secondly, we see that God will never let His children be shaken. He will never allow us to become dislodged or fall under the weight of our anxiety, as He is the one who carries our burdens for us. He will not even allow us to tremble, move or sway under the weight of our anxiety. For we no longer have to struggle with the overwhelming weight of our worry. Lastly, we see we cast our cares and anxiety on God because He cares for us. God does not carry our burden of anxiety because He expects some sort of compensation from us. He does not place an unmanageable demand on us in exchange for taking our load of anxiety. God does not hold us to an impossible standard we have to maintain for God to carry our burdens. He bears our burden simply because he cares for us, God cares for us unconditionally, He is deeply and personally concerned for our well-being. He carries our burdens of anxiety because He intensely loves us and wants us to have peace in Him.casting

I want us to notice that by casting our anxiety on God, that our worries are not gone forever. For we will always be troubled by the worries of this world, our trauma and struggles will always be a part of our lives. But what we do see is that God carries the burden of our anxiety and worries for us. So we can walk in His peace so we can rely on His strength to carry those things that we cannot carry ourselves. My friends are you carrying your own burdens today? Are you falling under the weight of the burdens of your anxiety? Do you find yourself in a place that you are crushed under the heaviness of the burden of dread? Then I urge you, my friends, to cast all your cares upon God this very moment because he cares for you. All you have to do is be honest with God share your burdens with Him and ask Him to carry your troubles and anxieties. If you do not have a relationship with God where you can cast your cares upon Him. I want you to know that our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ has made a way, for you, to enter into a relationship with God the Father. I encourage you to follow the link below to learn how you too can have a relationship with God and find the peace you are seeking.

FINDING PEACE WITH GOD

Cast your cares upon God for He loves and cares for you.

 

 

Tired of Just Exsisting

I wanted to find some way to start living my life again.

My goal for 2017 was to start living my life again. For the past five years, I was living with the burden of having PTSD and being controlled by the symptoms of my PTSD. Each year I faced a significant trial and had to make difficult choices on how I would handle the struggles. Some decisions I made were good, others not so good. 2016 marked a high water mark for me; I saw no future for myself, had no passion or purpose and was spending the vast majority of my day doing nothing. I stayed inside my house as much as I could, only venturing out if there was a real need. Towards the fall of 2016, I was beginning to really get discouraged with the direction or lack of direction of my life. In September of 2016 I went to a Wounded Warrior event, I spoke with one of the combat stress recovery specialists who told me of a new program they offered. The program partnered with different treatment programs around the country, which provided Intensive Outpatient Programs (IOP) for combat veterans free of charge. road-home He recommended I look into the Road Home Program at Rush in Chicago, Illinois. I looked into the program and made a phone call about attending the program. After a multi-part review process, I was accepted into the program and headed for my three-week IOP in January 2017.

I did not go with a great sense of optimism, my goal was simple; I wanted to find some way to start living my life again. I wanted to stop hiding in my house and avoiding people, events, and places. I did not want to be controlled by my loss of purpose any longer. I went to hopefully find some sort of spark that would set me on the track to living again. I noticed about 10-days into the program nothing was happening for me. I began to think this whole experience was going to be a bust. Then I had a breakthrough, I recalled a very traumatic experience I had in Bosnia in 1999. The experience served as

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My Office in the Camp Eagle Chapel Tuzla, Bosnia 1999

The basis of an overwhelming feeling of danger and a view that I was a liability to my fellow Soldiers. I never understand why I was so upset during my deployments to Iraq for not having a weapon and for having to rely on others for my protection. I knew as a chaplain, I would never carry a weapon, and I would have to rely on others for my protection. I accepted that limitation and was ok with it, but my view changed when I deployed to Iraq. I saw myself as a liability to others; I thought I was putting people in danger. I resented the fact that Soldiers were assigned to provide protection for me. I wanted a weapon, so I did not have to rely on others and put others in danger because they were protecting me. Once I was confronted with those feelings in therapy, I was asked why I felt this way, knowing as a chaplain I could not carry a weapon. That question led me to explore where those feeling came from. It was then; I was reminded of the dangerous and traumatic event that took place in Bosnia. As we worked through the traumatic experience in Bosnia, I began to see some amazing changes in my thinking and my view of myself. When I graduated from the program, and I returned home, I brought with me new hope. A hope that I just might be able to regain my life again.

I came home with just a small spark of hope that 2017 would be different.

February 2017 was a challenge, as I had to make the decision if I was actually going to move forward or fall back into the pattern of 2016. I chose to move forward, and in March I formed the foundation of Healing the Storm Ministry. My focus with the ministry is to help people find spiritual healing. With this goal in mind, I established healingthestorm.com. My purpose of the website and blog is to share my experiences with living with PTSD. I want to also share from a Biblical perspective how we can overcome the spiritual injury we experience as a result of trauma and traumatic experiences. Many think the only ones who suffer from PTSD are combat veterans. But we know this is not the case. PTSD can and does affect anyone who has experienced trauma in his or her life. I want Healing the Storm Ministry to reach all those who suffer from the effects of living with traumatic experiences. I want to share how a loving God and a loving Savior can bring healing to our wounded souls.

So far 2017 has proven to be a significant year for me.

Not only have I made the decision to start healingthestorm.com but I have also made efforts to overcome my desire to hide in my house. I have even gone so far as to consider getting a job for the first time since I was medically retired from the Army. 2017 also marked my 50th Birthday and the 10-years since my last deployment to Iraq. It was in 2007 that I began to experience my PTSD symptoms from my first deployment to Iraq in 2004 and from my deployment to Bosnia in 1999. More importantly, I do not want my 50s to be like the last five years of my 40s.

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My goal for 2018 is to make even more progress in living my life. I realize if I am going to make my 50s different from my 40s I must start now and not wait until later. At this stage of my life, I don’t have the luxury to wait until then. If something is going to happen, it must start now. I cannot afford to allow 2018 to be another year of merely existing. When I first thought of the concept of Healing the Storm Ministry I wanted it to be more than just a website and blog. My desire was to one day develop it into an active fulltime ministry. I hope to start a ranch for those who are seeking spiritual healing for their trauma. I have no idea how this would be accomplished or what was needed to actually make it happen.

I am currently working with a mentor who is helping me get back into the workforce. I met with him last week and gave him some of my business cards. On the cards, I have my website listed, and he took a look at the site last week. He approached me yesterday and asked me what my thought was about expanding Healing the Storm Ministry into a non-profit ministry. He shared with me how as a non-profit I could pursue faith-based grants focused on reaching out to those who suffer from PTSD. He told me some grants would allow me to teach or conduct seminars and retreats. My mentor has experience with non-profits and is successful in securing faith-based grants to hold workshops and retreats. He told me yesterday he would be very interested in helping me through the process and help take Healing the Storm Ministry to a new level. This is just what I needed to make 2018 and my first year of my 50s different from the previous 5-years. There is lots of work, challenges, and discouragement waiting down the road, but there are also many rewards, successes and life-changing opportunities down that same road.

This morning I was reminded of the Psalmist who wrote

Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.  Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will do this: He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn, your vindication like the noonday sun. Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him Ps 37:1-7a

 

“DO”

“Doing” is not living in the control of our trauma or the symptoms of PTSD, “Doing” is going out and moving forward!

I am at a significant turning point in my life, one that will make all the difference in my future. I am at the decision point of either living the way I have in the past or moving forward. I have mentally made the decision to move on and start living my life again and return to full-time ministry. However, just making the mental decision and commitment to move forward does not equate to actual action. The actual action only takes place when I’m actually “doing” something.working-in-the-dock-1530932  It is all good and well to dream, think through, plan, talk and write about what I’m going to “do”, but until I “do” I’m just sitting around. I will not move forward until I “do”. Whether it’s looking for and applying for a job, improving my website or simply getting out and interacting with people. None of this will happen until I actually “do” something. I have had a desire for a while to minister to my fellow veterans. As a chaplain I’ve asked myself what needs do veterans have that I am able to meet, and how can I use my experiences to meet those needs. With talking with veterans and especially the veterans I have gone through treatment with there is one overwhelming need they present to me. That is “what do I do with God?” I have had veterans tell me their stories of going to war believing in God only to return questioning or denying the existence of God. Their stories are disconcerting. However, it’s more bewildering for a chaplain to return from war having those same questions. It is this need of my fellow veterans that I believe I have something to offer.

One of the reason’s I started this blog and website was to address some of the spiritual issues and questions. Since I started my blog in March, I thought at this point I would have hundreds of people reading my posts. However, I quickly realized developing a following as a blogger takes time and a lot of work. By writing and posting, I am “doing”. It would be easy to be happy with my “doing”, but my blog is not my entire vision, it is an important part, but only a part. I must continue to “do” or I will find myself hiding in my house behind my computer “doing”, but not really achieving my vision. For me, my vision is not accomplished until I expand my “doing” to actually meeting with and ministering to veterans face to face. This is the scary part; actually leaving the safety of my home to reach out to other’s who struggle with the question of “what do I do with God?” My next step of “doing” comes with holding veteran’s symposiums, where we deal with the question of “what to do with God?” we explore what moral and spiritual injury means and we look to the Scripture for the answer to these questions. The first symposium will be held on Saturday 29 July at First Baptist Church in New Braunfels, Texas. Where we will discuss the moral and spiritual injury, watch a DVD and look to the Scriptures to find answers to our questions of “What do we do with God?” This is what “doing” looks like for me.

If we miss out on our freedom because of our war trauma, then the enemy has won.

My question for you is simple, “what are you “doing”? “Doing” is not living in the control of our trauma or the symptoms of PTSD. It is not living in fear, anger, resentment, or refusing to “do”. “Doing” is going out and moving forward despite these feelings. The thoughts and feelings will never go away, we will always struggle with them. However, it is not an excuse to not “do” nor is it justification to simply hide and avoid. If you are not “doing” you are not living, you are missing out, your own prison that you have made for yourself traps you in doing nothing. I certainly know that “doing” is so much harder. I understand the fear, the anger, and the resentment, I understand what it is like to hide and avoid. I understand the distress that is felt when faced with the thought of venturing out of our comfort and safe zones. We must not allow ourselves to be controlled by our trauma! We cannot live a life with no joy, no happiness, no peace, and no relationships. We have sacrificed too much and given too much to this nation, to stay defeated in our trauma. We cannot miss out on what we have provided for others and that is freedom. If we miss out on our freedom because of our war trauma, then the enemy has won. They have not just taken out one service member but have taken out our families, friends, spouses, children, and grandchildren. If you don’t “do” then what you fought for and sacrificed for is in vain. Don’t live in defeat, Go out and “DO”!

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