We’re on Chapter 15 of Lori Alexander’s book ‘The Power of the Transformed Wife’ and the name of this chapter is The Disciplined Mind: Trusting God and Doing Good.
Alright, so trusting your chosen deity is never a bad thing, unless you’re in a toxic high demand group. Sorry I refuse to say ‘Doing good’ because in the words of the immortal Weird Al Yankovic if you’ve passed second grade you should be able to know the difference between doing good and doing well. I have to assume by the way the title is constructed that she meant ‘doing well’ as in you’re sailing on through life on a sea of spiritual tranquility instead of doing positive things for others. Lori is sometimes quite hard to parse.
If I had to sum up this chapter in a sentence it would be stop feeling sorry for yourself with your piles of medical problems and just think Jesus-y thoughts to ward off anxiety and depression. Not that Lori once uses the words ‘Anxiety,’ ‘Depression’ or ‘Mental Health’ anywhere in this chapter.
Too bad because there are statistics that show the larger numbers of prescriptions for psychotropic drugs tend to take place in the more fundamentalist religious areas. Lori missed an opportunity to address the subject instead of ignoring it like if you just repeat enough scripture your blues will fly away to some place else.
“Life, besides being short, is difficult”
Bummer, starting with a very downer in the chapter. Lori goes on to claim that with her huge amount of medical problems she spends daily time disciplining her mind to keep her suffering and moaning about the suffering to a minimum. This is the scripture she uses.
“Therefore, those also who suffer according to the will of God shall entrust their souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right” 1 Peter 4:19.
I was sort of gobsmacked to see this as her comforting scripture. When I used to suffer the most from my multitude of asthma-related problems I used to rely on scriptures like Philippians 2:8 “Finally brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things” as a guide to what I needed to focus my mind on before moving on to the Psalms, and doing things like praying for other people. With me it was sort of a meditation that works well in refocusing negative energy and thoughts.
This idea that she believes that she is suffering her health problems ‘according to the will of God’ isn’t even Biblical and it just makes me sad that she thinks that way. She goes here with that thought.
“I have physically suffered a great deal for the past twenty five years. Life has been and still is very difficult. I believe that the reason I have not fallen into major depression is because I have disciplined my mind.”
After months of reading the author’s website and reading this book several times I have to politely disagree with her. She comes across as depressed, anxious and angry, only getting relief when she’s throwing shade that those she dislikes. She comes across as somewhat mentally unbalanced and nasty. THAT is how I think she deals with her nerves, not scriptures, not prayer, not ‘helping others’, but by spilling that poison onto someone else.
“When I am suffering or my mind begins to fill with anxious thoughts, I discipline my mind to dwell on the word of God.”
“I have suffered much with several serious operations.”
“How can I do good when I’m in such physical pain and continue to go through rough patches? The Lord has given me the gift of teaching and has allowed me to minister to millions of women around the world through my blog.”
Oh, let the martyrbating begin!
First, there are physical therapies, non-drug procedures, things like guided meditation that one can do to lessen physical pain without having to resort to prescription opioids. Why suffer like that if there are many alternatives? Suffering does not make people ‘holy’ or set apart. It can seriously impact your mind and bring on situational depression if you are constantly dealing with high pain levels. She doesn’t say anything in her blog about trying alternatives, just about avoiding a lot of medical treatment and doctors, which sounds foolish to me. Even Jesus mentions physicians. Needless suffering.
Second, that blog of hers is not so much about ‘teaching’ as it is about trying to force everyone into the same mold, a mold that isn’t even Biblical for the most part, ignoring the differences in people, circumstances and ability. She’s doing like a million others around the world and just shouting into the internet void. Teaching millions? Pfft.
I’m not going to review any more of this chapter because it’s an illogical confusing mess that always comes back around to take control of your mind by memorizing and inwardly reciting scripture. While that makes some folks feel better it’s not the cure all that she claims it is. Lori offers no real suggestions, just like the finance chapter last week.
How do you deal with anxiety since the entire chapter seems more about anxiety than anything else? Let’s look at what the experts say is helpful. This list is not exhaustive, it’s just a starting point. Also know I am preaching to the choir here as I sometimes have problems with anxiety. It’s pretty normal:
1 – Determine if it’s normal or harmful anxiety
There are always those things that will make us nervous that are normal to have some anxiety about, a job interview, a parent-teacher conference, challenging circumstances. Knowing the difference is helpful.
2 – Know the harmful anxiety takes a toll on not just your mind but your body.
Science has established that stress and anxiety can drive over eating, headaches, pains in the body, elevated heart rates, elevated blood pressure and a long list of other things, some of Lori’s list of complaints too.
3 – Take control
After you’ve separated out the normal anxiety from the toxic worry machine in your head type of anxiety you will be better equipped to take control of the things you can manage, like that job interview. Taking control of the things you can change will reduce your stress levels and sometimes is enough to turn off the ‘worry machine’.
I’ve always found it is much better to confront those crazy anxiety thoughts by realizing that many of them are completely irrational and telling them ‘No!’, replacing those racing thoughts with whatever the reality is in those circumstances. This takes practice and isn’t the easiest thing to do. Many Christians will use prayer and scripture recitation in this manner. Whatever works for you, Bible or not.
5 – Relearn how to relax.
This can take many different forms, yoga, meditation, exercise, or something simple like making time for yourself every day to do something that relaxes you like reading a book, or engaging in a loved hobby.
6 – Try not to dwell on your fears and compound them.
Sometimes when this happens to me I try to switch my thoughts to something else entirely that is unrelated. I like to work on writing a novel in my mind when the worry machine tries to randomly switch on. Distraction works. I tend to wake up at 3 am with obsessive worries, so that’s when I start mentally writing.
7 – Seek out medical help or a therapist.Occasionally people can have anxiety problems because of their health. Starting with a visit to your doctor for a physical is never a bad idea. I’ve shared before about my husband having depression and anxiety that the church said was not trusting God but turned out to be a tumor on his parathyroid gland instead. I personally have anxiety problems if I use my asthma medications frequently, but my husband has noted that I get outwardly very agitated with a borderline panic attack right before a serious asthma attack. His noticing that has led me to start medicating for my asthma the second it happens. I medicate, lay down and usually try to read a comedic book to lighten my mood until I feel better. So yes, it can be something actually medically wrong with you driving your anxious thoughts.
There’s no shame in seeing a licensed therapist or psychologist to get help dealing with anxiety. Sometimes just having someone outside not involved in your life is essential in seeing the truth of your situation and helping you learn new methods to cope with your anxiety.
There should also be no shame connected with going on medication to help you get over a rough patch, or obsessive racing thoughts while you seek ways to move past it.
Here’s another thing I think Lori misses in this chapter. Some of us are just wired to worry more. My husband is Mr. Happy-Go-Lucky and just jumps right in. I tend to be more practical and worry more. I deal occasionally with over the top anxiety, but am learning the best ways to turn it off. It’s definitely a process.
Our different styles works for us. Learning this more than ever because of our upcoming move to Costa Rica. He’s gotten a clean bill of health and a job offer in Costa Rica. He’s going to be there in a month, clutching his passport and his suitcases, tackling finding us a new home and buying a car. I’m staying behind for a week or two to finish with the contractors, real estate agency and shipping our things. One of us is not ‘better’ or ‘more competent’ at things than the other, we just have different strengths. We both have learned to allow the other to do the things they are best at.
Which is one of the reasons why the entire Evangelical Quiverfull lifestyle never worked well for us, neither of us does well forced into a false stance that we’re not suited for. If you follow the advice in this book you’ll be forced into a tiny box that’s only going to leave you as frustrated and inwardly unhappy as the author clearly is.
Next week is about decluttering. But Lori didn’t write the chapter, it’s written by another blogger she follows and really does not do much to address strategies for decluttering, it’s more about nagging you to keep a spotlessly clean home. Which is making me laugh so hard right now surrounded by workmen, tools, scraps of wallpaper being removed, boxes and a half empty house. Shoot, I could have used some real decluttering tips but like almost every chapter of the book it seriously lacks what it claims.
Suzanne Titkemeyer is the admin at No Longer Quivering. She’s been out of the Quiverfull Evangelical world for nine years now and lives in the beautiful Piedmont section of Virginia with her retired husband and assorted creatures. She blogs at Every Breaking Wave and True Love Doesn’t Rape
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