I feel like I should rename my blog a day late and a dollar short… or something witty like that. I was on the road yesterday so I couldn’t type at the risk of loosing my cookies. (which only almost happened twice during the twitter party, thank you very much, but I digress)
When we found out we were moving to Salmon Arm, there was a lot of excitement in our house, to say the least. Nervous excitement about what laid ahead. Within a few days, The Hubs received an email that included “Dates to Remember”. Listed in that email is words I’ve never really liked. “Leadership Camp August 26-29, 2013”. The moment those words registered in my head, a seed was planted. Actually not a seed. A seed brings to mind pretty flowers. What I had was more of a pit.
For 7 weeks we trucked along. The topic of Leadership would come up, and I would deflect, change the topic… anything to stop the pit that was growing. The Hubs printed off registration forms for all of us and I said “I think this camp if just for ministers. Child III and I will stay home”. Reluctantly he agreed. When he emailed a question about accommodations, a response came back including the words “Which will be great for your son”. Ugh! We are included in the invitation! Almost in tears, I reluctantly agree to go. The pit was growing…
Even up to the day before we left, I was looking for an excuse not to go. “We can’t really afford to board the dog”, or “Well, its so close to when school starts”… the excuses even started to sound weak to me.
It wasn’t that I didn’t want to learn, or didn’t want to really go even. My anxiety came from the unknown. Going to camp, I wasn’t in control. There would be people I didn’t know, doing activities I had no idea about. THESE are the things that set off the growing anxiety I had. What if they asked me to do something I “Couldn’t” do? What if they were watching me to see how I reacted to certain things (which I’m not terribly convinced they weren’t, BTW). New people, New experiences, New people to see through this thin veil of “Got it together” that I’m struggling to hold up. What if I didn’t say the right things, or made a fool of myself?
We arrived at Camp Sunday night, and got our registration packets. I opened it up and was actually really excited about the first 2 days. Business stuff. HR, PR… I could handle those things, I actually love those things!! They had a morning of all the new people together. Then… there it was… Group work. SMALL group work. Instantly my anxiety went into hyper drive, and the voice of worry began to grow until it was all I could hear. And camp hadn’t even started yet!
I began to flip through the material we’d be covering in our small groups. The process was called “Encounter God”. What it entailed was covering some pretty personal topics like Rebellion, Addiction, Sex, Cults etc. etc. The small group exercises were to go as follows; One person would confess their sins in the category they were covering, and the other two would pray with them through the admittance and forgiveness process. And then on to the next category.
I’ve never pretended to be a perfect pastors wife. I’ve never denied the troubled past that has led me to where I am today. One of the greatest joys in my marriage is the fact that The Hubs and I have no secrets. Being best friends for 16 years, you share with that person things you may not even tell your spouse… and we didn’t think anything of it because we were BEST friends. We’ve seen the good the bad and the UGLY in each other. The things that this group was asking me to share were THESE things. The things only my husband knew. Things I still have nightmares about. Things that I’m still working to heal from, even 12-13 years later. Although these things have made me who I am today, they are things that I am NOT prepared to share with total strangers.
As I sat there, reading these things we were to be doing, my anxiety grew. As we went through the sessions, as we met people, as we worshiped together, nothing could quiet these fears, and by the time Tuesday night came, I was sitting in my cabin having a full blown panic attack as The Hubs sat across from me completely lost as to what to do. The anxiety attack led to a migraine, which gave me the excuse to huddle in my bunk, closing off the outside world and giving in to the anxiety and fear that had surrounded me these last few months.
Great behavior for a #palmsup #YesToGod woman right?
As I lay there Tuesday and Wednesday, feeling lost, confused and convinced I’d messed up any chance of these people taking me serious as a leader, or as a sane person for that matter, my phone buzzed and the email I got was titled “There’s No Easy Button” from Proverbs 31 Ministry.
It was as if a light bulb went off. God had laid the perfect #SayYes moment at my feet, and I said “No. Its too hard. I can’t.” Through the 7 weeks of anxiety, the fear, the physical illness from worry… not once did I turn to God with it. Not once. In that moment, feeling as low as possible, feeling alone, feeling like I was destroying not only my relationship with these new people but also with my husband, I cried out to God. But why did it take me so long?
In those moments I poured it all out. The months of anxiety, the fear of being rejected, the pain of reliving those moments I didn’t want to share. I pulled out my bible. I flipped to passage after passage. I wrote page after page in my journal, and in the end, peace started to set in.
The last day of Camp, I attending the closing session and what I learned was that I wasn’t the only one who was uncomfortable with the groups, with the subject matter. I…wasnt…alone. These people who I was scared of… they struggled too! These people I looked at who had everything under control… they were like me. Except they said Yes, when I said No.