Self Care In A Pandemic (65): Anchors…

It can feel like we’re caught in a stormy sea at times. Our vessel may be tossed up and down on choppy waters and sometimes we won’t know whether we ourselves are up or down.

For those of us with underlying health problems and perhaps particularly mental health struggles, this can be all the more unsettling.

For Christians, the sure and steadfast hope we have in Jesus Christ, our Eternal Great High Priest Who intercedes for us, is the ultimate ‘anchor for our souls’ (Hebrews 6:19).

However, even when we are eternally secure, we can still experience feelings of insecurity in living life in this world. This applies to all of us regardless of belief because the human experience can be tumultuous.

Yesterday at ‘online church’ the person teaching spoke of how he had visited Lindisfarne and learned of monks who had to cross an expanse of watery land to get to their place of refuge and worship. They often had to do so when there was thick mist and it was a dangerous venture. However, there were tall poles at regular intervals across this vast expanse and although they couldn’t see them all at once, they knew that if they walked keeping their eyes on the one ahead, eventually the mist would clear enough for them to see the next one, and in time with perseverance, walking by the certain faith in what they had seen before and knew was tangibly there even though they couldn’t see it in the moment, they would safely get to the other side. And each time, they did.

This was an illustration of walking by faith and not by sight – but not a blind faith – a faith based in Reality – and ultimately those of us who are Christians walk by faith in Jesus Christ, our Good Shepherd, Who will give us directions as and when we need them, and more than that Who Is always with us.

Today I have had moments when I’ve felt that I was on choppy waters. For those of you who have had mental health challenges you may know what I mean. I spent some years overcoming intense complex PTSD, depression and anxiety, and although on the whole I have come a very long way since then, from time to time things resurface, perhaps especially as my brain and everything going on internally reprocesses things and as I go through a ‘healing’ process. I can be sitting in a perfectly peaceful room and begin to experience inner tempests.

I have the sure and steadfast hope of my soul’s Anchor in Jesus Christ, and there Is and can be nothing more dependable and secure than a life hidden with Christ in God, regardless of external circumstances. However, it got me thinking that sometimes we need ‘guide posts’ in our day to day life, just as those monks of Lindisfarne had.

They may be merely signposts to our ultimate Truth and destination and soul’s refuge, but they can be helpful.

They are not THE Anchor, but they are helpful points in our journey through our days.

Some of the things that can ‘anchor’ us in the moment, if we are beginning to struggle, whether from symptoms of complex PTSD, PTSD, anxiety, depression, intrusive thoughts, bad memories, or stress and worry about the pandemic or our daily living in general can be things that ‘ground’ us in the moment.

I’ve talked before about the importance of paying attention to our breathing, to the five senses, and things like that.

But what about when the we need something a bit deeper to help with the things that are bothering us or that threaten to knock us off course?

Our brains are wonderful and complex things, and can both help and hinder us. Sometimes we need to give ourselves anchors and guideposts to stay a steady course.

For example, if feelings arise that are linked to negative self talk perhaps from lies said over you in childhood, do you have something to hold to in your mind to counter this and help you take the next small (or big) step forwards? Can you keep handy some positive affirmations?

When depression threatens to weigh you down and render you immobile, do you have a ‘go to’ task that you can use as an anchor or guide post in your day to get you out of that immediate slump and help you to steer a more positive and healthy course?

If you are finding it overwhelming and need some reassurance, do you have the number of a friend, family member, or support helpline at hand that you can turn to in your distress?

If you are tempted to give in to some addiction, have you prepared a healthy alternative so that you can go to that instead and begin rewiring your brain from negative patterns and habits into positive?

What tools and techniques do you use to get yourself through those choppy waters? Do you have any temporary measures that you use that you can continue to build upon? And do you know the ultimate security of the only True Anchor your soul can find refuge and eternal salvation in, in The Person of Jesus Christ?

Wherever you are today dear friends, know that no matter how bad it might feel, it won’t last forever, and that you can use your different tools and techniques to get you from one point to the next, even if you can’t quite make our your destination just yet.

We walk by faith not by sight, yet our faith is not blind faith but based on ultimate Reality.

And in a lesser, smaller scale, but also important to help us make our way forward, we can figure out our own temporary ‘guideposts’ and ways forward for when we do get into those unsettling and choppy waters.

Stay safe, be blessed, and never give up. x

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