Between the lines

For the past seven years, I have dedicated my life to writing poetry (and every other word that God gives me). Though I write mostly for myself, I have always had my focus on the reader. What would the reader need most? What would God want the reader to know? And even though this is not a bad concept, I have learned something more valuable over the years.

Over the years I have written over 250 English-languaged poems (and a handful of Dutch ones), give or take. Poems that contain a piece of God and a piece of myself. Whether God quoted it or I wrote it. It has always been a partnership where God receives all the credit. And for me, it works! For me it is the most functional way of working and I wouldn’t want it any other way.

During the years I have been through a lot. Not just the past seven years but ever since childhood. All of these struggles have found a way into my poetry. Don’t misinterpret these words though, because my poetry is not a summery of misery. With the struggles, God always handed me the solutions whether I was ready for it or not. I know the solution can sometimes overwhelm you and make you feel as if you will never be able to accomplish it. Therefore God often gives long-term solutions. Solution you can grow into as time passes by. Every day is a learning process. We are not expected to succeed in a day, week or year. God knows how long we need and that is the exact time he gives us.

Since my poetry has always treasured the solutions, they have always been my greatest comfort in times of need. Whenever I felt sad, lonely, frustrated or confused, the Holy Spirit would most often lead me to my own poetry. Between the lines I fely comfort, answers, peace and the love of my Heavenly Father. Reading these poems and feeling the great comfort they bring me, even though I wrote them myself, installed a greater understanding deep within my soul.

‘When the work you do for God heals you more than others, you’ve done something right!’

Isn’t it true that when God calls us to work in His Kingdom, we are so extremely focused on others. We need to save the world, heal mankind and bring them safe and sound into the arms of Jesus. But what if Jesus has a greater message for us than for others through the work we do? Aren’t we missing out on something?

I see so many of us make that mistake. We are so focussed on teaching that we forget to be taught. We are so focused on helping that we forget to be helped. We are so focussed on loving that we forvet to be loved. We so easily forget ourselves. How wonderful it is to know that even though we forget ourselves, God does not. He sees us and loves us. And through His everlasting love He wants to teach us every day, face to face, in the most personal way. And sometimes we don’t need to cross oceans to find it. The greatest lessons we learn are in our own handwriting. All we need is to be reminded of it.

How I deal with anxiety and stress.

This time of year is a busy one. We hardly have any time to relax because we are simply too occupied with too many things. Work, Christmas preparations, children (if you have them) and more. There is no time to breath. I don’t know about you but this is my reality. For the record, I do not have children but I do feel very busy. So busy in fact that I feel something, or rather someone, inside of me plea for a break. A moment to relax. Some peaceful time. And I would truly love to give myself a minute but too many things are asking for my attention. But do they really? Or is it my own desire to show the world a perfect picture of myself?

This is the question that has been going through my mind in the last couple of weeks. The reason why I started pondering about this subject is because a month ago I felt the Holy Spirit ask me to cancel something from church. I felt miserable, especially since I do go very often. I hardly ever skip. It bothered me so much that I felt anxiety attacks coming up. Something inside of me was whispering that I had to go. What if I miss something important? What if they will stop liking me because I didn’t go? Seriously the craziest ideas came to mind. Ideas that forced me to stop myself and think very carefully!

In my early twenties I was diagnosed with a General Anxiety Disorder. Even though I haven’t noticed it for at least five years, I gradually recognised that it is back. A year ago I had to have a wisdom tooth pulled out and it was such a traumatizing experience that my anxiety disorder came back in full force. My mistake was that I ignored it for too long. I know the signs and symptoms but I stuck my head in the sand. Until I was in it so deep that I couldn’t ignore it any longer. A stupid act on my part, especially since I have the skills to deal with it. (skills I learned in therapy) If I would have applied these skills early on, it would not have gone this far.

The skills I learned are easy. Whenever I become afraid I ask myself questions. Why am I afraid? What happens when my fair becomes a reality? And what is so bad about that? After asking myself these questions, I search for ways to turn my thinking around. By slowly changing the thoughts in my mind, I change my perception also. For example; I am afraid to cancel a get-together from church because I am afraid that people will stop liking me. The first question I ask myself is, what will happen if people indeed stop liking me? Well I would feel pretty bad about myself. I would also feel very alone.
Okay, next question. What happens if you feel bad about yourself? What happens if you feel alone? Nothing. Nothing would happen.
Another question. Is it rational to be feeling these feelings? No because in reality I am not alone. If some people won’t like me, I still have plenty of other people left who will. People like my mom and dad, brothers, sisters-in-law, nephews, nieces, grandmother, my good friend. On top of that I will always have God. God will never stop liking me. So my feelings aren’t rational.
By repeating these questions, I can slowly change my perception. In the end, the fear will become smaller and smaller, and often even disappear.

What also helps me is to reduce stress by planning moments of rest. It can be tricky at times but it is so valuable. Our bodies and minds need rest from time to time in order to recharge. Without rest, we would be developing a burn-out in seconds rather than minutes. I am learning therefore that it is good to say, “No” at times. In this case, I said no to church, to give my mind a moment of rest. You know what the point is? Our bodies may be able to handle a lot of stress but that doesn’t mean that our minds are the same! Sometimes we can physically deal with a lot of work, while we mentally feel tired and weak. We have to try and find a balance in our life, where we can be meaningful and stress-free at the same time. A balance between duties (work, activities, family etc.) and rest.

I started my blog with a question. Am I really so busy or is it my own desire to show a perfect picture? I say yes. I am trying to show a perfect picture. I am trying to prove myself to everyone. I am trying to prove that I am worth it. But is this a rational thought? No because I am worthful for God the Father, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. I do not need to prove myself in order to be loved. God the Father said it Himself two months ago, “I love you regardless of what you do”. I do not have to earn His love. I receive it for free.
And you know what! My parents also love me. And so do my brothers, even if they forget to show me sometimes. I have God (three-in-one) and a loving family. What more do I need? The only person I need to convince that I am worthy is myself. It doesn’t matter what other people think of me. What is most important, is what I think about myself! If I keep on finding my own inner happiness, I will be just fine.

“I see the sunflower in you. And all I ask, is for you to see it to”. (From the poem ‘The Sunflower, spoken to me by God the Father)