This is harder than I thought — St. Peter's Fireside | Vancouver, B.C. 

by Julia Sterne
December 6, 2011
5 min read

I know in my last post I talked about fear (see “How to be wise”) but my body has taken this message a little too far. I woke up at 3 am last night, heart pounding, thoughts racing, in a full on panic. I have no idea what triggered this anxiety attack and I have had to manage my anxiety all day as my nervous system seems to be in recovery mode.

As a counselor I would like to say I have all my stuff together. I would like to say I know how to prevent anxiety attacks and lead a perfectly peaceful existence, at one with the Triune God. But, as I am sure you can gather thus far, I do not have all the answers.

I am not sure what this blog is about to be honest. I just feel the need to be genuine with those of you who support us and keep us in your prayers. I never thought moving to Canada to follow our “dream” of planting a church would be so hard. I think I really thought it would be all fun and excitement with a dash of sadness. I did not expect it to be this stressful, this sad, this emotionally taxing, and it just seems to be getting harder.

Luckily, I know that this is normal according to research. I know that moving is ranked in the top ten most stressful events in a person’s lifetime. So is starting a new career/job (as in not quite knowing my role in the church or even what God has for me as a counselor, as in being a church planter’s wife—which is still a mind boggling mystery to me). The daily stress is not so great, even when the little tasks sometimes pile up. The stress that weighs heavy is the grief of leaving everyone we love (including my dog), the fears that come with living in a new city with new people, a desire to succeed and follow God well, not to mention the 1,000 other unknowns that lurk around in my mind. It is this constant pressure that is stressful.

Having this cloud over me makes the smallest changes into greater challenges. Today Alastair set down a stack of names in front of me and asked me to write thank you notes. I felt like the world was coming undone. I got anxious, overwhelmed and angry, worrying about when I could do it and then I started crying. Alastair did his best to try and understand my mini-melt down. I think he was actually more confused by my explanation because it was circular and I did not know why I was so upset anyway. Not to mention, Alastair has his own stress to manage and his own stack of work to do. Trying to understand and comfort his wife was a bit of a stretch today (… Alastair laughed when he read this sentence). In that moment the thank you cards, which I actually normally enjoy writing, became the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back.

Not to be redundant, but this is really hard. We spent the weekend with our small group and it was so much fun, but now my heart aches at the thought of not being able to ever do this again. I spent last night crafting with my girlfriends, and watching The Little Mermaid (and singing every word), and now I feel the ache of not having them around the corner. I walk my dog and feel crushed that she is not coming with us. It is just a bit too much to deal with these feelings and function as my normal self.

Today the best I could do was convince myself to do the next small step. So I stopped crying and had lunch. Then I convinced myself to do the next small step. Call someone to help with the thank you cards (Thank you to those of you who are helping!) Then I convinced myself to do the next small thing. On and on until I got a little bit of headway.

Being so stressed in an abstract way is super frustrating. I wish I could hold onto the stress, wrangle it to the ground, and make it say “Uncle!” I wish I could capture it in a photo and see my enemy—to know what I am battling. I want so badly to be in control, but I am so out of control (and today it is making me feel a bit crazy).

This is life for us now, though. There is no promised end to this out of control feeling. I think God wants to help me feel him more in this place. I do not see him fixing the “out of controlness”.  I do not see him giving me secure things to cling to. I see him asking me to cling to him and him alone. I am really glad he is here, but it is still really really hard.

about the author
Julia is a Registered Clinical Counsellor at New Story Counselling, and is a member of St. Peter's Fireside. She is the wife of Alastair, the mother of Ansley and Maggie, and one of the kindest people you'll ever meet. If you're feeling up for it, you can follow her on Facebook or Pinterest.

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