Category: Anxiety

Seedling: Right in the Eyes

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By Paula Marolewski, February 8, 2010 12:10 pm

“If the devil tells you something is too fearful to look at, look at it. If he says something is too terrible to hear, hear it. If you think some truth unbearable, bear it.” – G.K. Chesterton

The devil has many schemes to hold us back. One of his key methods is fear. Consider:

  • We are afraid of failing. So we never try.
  • We are afraid of what might be lurking deep inside us. So we never root out the sin in our lives.
  • We are afraid of facing the consequences of our actions. So we run away.

The list goes on. Fearful to speak, lest we upset the person spoken to. Fearful to confront, lest we destroy a relationship. Fearful to admit, lest people scorn us. Fearful to commit, lest we not be able to live up to expectations.

And on, and on.

When we are afraid, we do what a child does during the scary part of a movie: we hunch up, screw up our eyes tightly, and clap our hands over our ears.

If I can’t see it, if I can’t hear it, if I deny it exists … it can’t get me.

But the truth is, shutting our eyes and ears will never succeed in protecting us from the scary things in life. Think what would happen if a soldier was afraid and closed his eyes and started singing nonsense songs loudly so he couldn’t hear the noise of battle around him? He would be dead in a moment.

No, the only way to conquer both fear and the enemies you are frightened of is to open your eyes. Open your ears. Acknowledge the truth. Look reality right in the eyes.

When you do, you will see the situation is vivid color. And it may be even scarier than you thought. But by opening your eyes, you’ll be able to see something else as well: the God who is right beside you, leading you, guiding you, directing you.

And suddenly, you’ll find there’s nothing to fear.

  •  How have you historically dealt with issues that frightened you? Why?
  • Are you frightened of anything right now? Why?
  • If you are fearful of something today, take a deep breath, and bring the whole matter before the Lord in prayer. Be detailed and specific – about the situation, about why you are frightened, and about what you have done about it to date. Then ask the Lord to give you the courage, wisdom, and grace to face the situation.


Copyright © 2010, Paula J. Marolewski. All rights reserved.

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Seedling: The Lord Is Not Restrained

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By Paula Marolewski, January 3, 2010 10:45 am

“Then Jonathan said to the young man who was carrying his armor, ‘Come and let us cross over to the garrison of these uncircumcised; perhaps the LORD will work for us, for the LORD is not restrained to save by many or by few.” – I Samuel 14:6

Do you ever feel like the weight of the world is on your shoulders? Have you ever spent sleepless nights trying to figure out if you had enough resources to meet the demands of life? Have you ever counted up the problems and realized they outnumbered your solutions?

I have good news for you! The Lord is not restrained – he is not hindered, nothing can prevent him, and no one can stop him – from saving you! Not your personal limitations, not your financial constraints, not your past mistakes, not the size or number of your problems … nothing can restrain the Lord’s saving power.

  • As you look toward the coming months, what potential problems might you face?
  • What are your personal resources that you can apply toward those problems?
  • What more will you need than you are able to give to face those problems?
  • Spend time in prayer acknowledging your need and limitations to God, and asking for his saving grace and power to meet the challenges ahead.


Copyright © 2010, Paula J. Marolewski. All rights reserved.

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Never Too Early, Never Too Late

By Paula Marolewski, November 30, 2009 12:27 pm

Are you suffering from anxiety today?

Perhaps it isn’t debilitating. You just can never seem to relax. Even on the weekends or on vacation, your mind is going a mile a minute and you feel wound up. You just wish you could let go and feel yourself drift again on a sea of peaceful daydreams.

Perhaps it is interfering with your life. The pressure never lets up and you can feel the clutch of tension in your chest. You can’t seem to live in the present – the past and the future hound you like a pack of wild dogs.

Perhaps it has destroyed you. Your life is in shambles. Relationships strained or broken. Opportunities lost. Life is a waking hell and you wonder how long you can endure.

I have good news for you: it is never too early to go for counseling. You can stop the anxiety in its tracks and reclaim a balanced lifestyle.

And it is never too late to ask for help. No matter what the toll is that anxiety has taken on your life, there is help and there is hope.

Trust me – today, you can take a step toward changing your life for the better.

It is never too early, and never too late.



© 2009 Paula Marolewski,

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How Should the Church Respond to Mental and Emotional Problems?

By Paula Marolewski, November 2, 2009 5:51 pm

As the Church, it is imperative that we do not take a simple view toward mental and emotional illness. We cannot label it an exclusively spiritual problem (“You must have sin in your life or you wouldn’t be having this problem.”) and expect that confession and repentance will take care of the issue. Neither can we take an exclusively clinical approach and say that all mental or emotional illness is the result of a physiological imbalance in the brain. Instead, hard as it is, it is vital to understand that we are integrated as people: mind, emotions, spirit, body, etc. and that mental and emotional issues are frequently the result of some combination of those elements, and very often touch every aspect of our lives.

For instance, take the case of severe anxiety, which I discuss in my book Fire in My Mind: Personal Insights and Practical Help for Severe Anxiety. My own anxiety was triggered by a long-term high-stress situation. No sin involved. Just the stress of starting my own business. It was then exacerbated by the fact that, over time, my body and brain chemistry shifted due to the overload of adrenaline, resulting in anxious feelings regardless of the circumstances I found myself in. (I recommend Dr. Archibald Hart’s book The Anxiety Cure for a very complete discussion of the physiology of anxiety.) This then led very naturally to emotional depression and to spiritual doubt, as I was fighting constantly against something I didn’t understand and therefore couldn’t overcome.

It was only through qualified cognitive behavioral counseling that I was able to unravel all these various threads and address the behavioral, physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual issues that by then were all involved.

From my personal experience and talking extensively with others, I would therefore sum up the approach that the Church needs to take as follows: Love with knowledge.

Love itself isn’t enough … I have had people who love me very much say some very damaging things to me because they simply didn’t understand severe anxiety and didn’t know any better. They were trying to help, but they harmed instead.

Likewise, knowledge alone isn’t enough. Clinical knowledge keeps people at arm’s length and studies them like a bug under a microscope. Knowledge needs to be tempered by the warmth, caring, support, and encouragement of God’s love.

Love with knowledge is an irresistible combination that will draw many hurting people into the arms of the Church and the Kingdom of God.


© 2009 Paula Marolewski,

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A Moratorium on Multitasking

By Paula Marolewski, October 19, 2009 1:52 pm

We live in an age where multitasking is expected, praised, and often demanded. How many things can you do at once? Talk on the phone, check email, pet the cat, flip through the mail, check a website, work on a project, watch the news, drive the car … we frequently combine two or three tasks at once.

Well, for myself, I’ve declared a moratorium on multitasking.

I found that multitasking, because of my issue with severe anxiety, is a definitive problem. When I multitask, my stress level goes up. When my stress level goes up, my anxiety goes up. When my anxiety goes up, I try harder to get things done faster, so I multitask even more. So my stress level goes even higher. So my anxiety gets even worse. And so on, and so on.

It was, and is, a tough decision to live out. No multitasking. None.

And this is what I found:

  • I get more done now than when I tried multitasking, because I can focus and concentrate better on each individual project or task.
  • I enjoy what I am doing more, because I can really dig down into it and experience it to the full, instead of having half my mind somewhere else.
  • I can relax more easily, because my mind isn’t always working at mach 10.

Don’t let society dictate how you work and how you live. Decide for yourself what is best for you.

© 2009 Paula Marolewski,

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Cast All Your Cares Upon Him

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By Paula Marolewski, September 14, 2009 8:16 pm

A few thoughts today on what it means to cast all our cares on the Lord …

What are we giving to the Lord when we give him our burdens?

  • Our worry and anxiety about the situation
  • Our obsessive desire to think about the situation
  • Our need to control the situation
  • Our helplessness because we can’t control the situation

What are we not giving to the Lord when we give him our burdens?

  • Our concern for the situation
  • Our grief and  hurt caused by the situation
  • Our responsibility toward the situation

What do we receive from the Lord when we give him our burdens?

  • The internal, spiritual resources we need to deal with the situation
  • The wisdom to identify our responsibilities within the situation
  • The ability to rest despite the situation
  • The peace of knowing that God is sovereign over the situation


© 2009 Paula Marolewski


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A Smooth White Seashell

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By Paula Marolewski, September 2, 2009 6:17 pm

My calendar has a beautiful quote on it by an unknown author:

“Today is a smooth white seashell; hold it close and listen to the beauty of the hours.”

It reminds me to slow down. To live in the present. To stop the rush, the hurry, the worry, the freneticism.

The only day you have is today.

The only time you have is now.

Slow down. Treasure the moment. “Listen to the beauty of the hours.”


© 2009 Paula Marolewski


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Severe Anxiety: Confronting the Social Stigma

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By Paula Marolewski, August 20, 2009 7:54 am

It’s strange: we don’t mind saying we have diabetes or heart trouble or a broken leg … but nobody wants to admit that they have severe anxiety or an anxiety disorder (or any other mental or emotional condition). There remains a very real social stigma when it comes to admitting that we have a problem that is located in our mind or brain or emotions.

But since writing Fire in My Mind: Personal Insights & Practical Help for Severe Anxiety, I have (understandably!) begun sharing much more openly with others about my struggle with severe anxiety and my journey toward wholeness. This is what I’ve found:

  • An incredible number of people suffer from severe anxiety. Some have dealt with it successfully, some are still deeply in its grip.
  • There are many others who are suffering from severe anxiety – and don’t know it. All they know is that their life is falling apart. But since they don’t know the problem, they can’t work toward a solution.
  • Most people know someone who has suffered or is suffering from severe anxiety. Some of those people know how to offer help to the sufferer; some do not.
  • Many people are treading the danger line of severe anxiety, living life stressed to the max and pushing their limits day after day. They have no idea how close they are to triggering a real anxiety problem.

Here’s the key: by talking openly about severe anxiety, I have had the opportunity to help people in each of these categories. If I bowed to the prevailing social stigma and kept my mouth shut, their pain would have continued unchecked.

That is why I am encouraging you today: if you have suffered or are suffering from severe anxiety, don’t be ashamed. Don’t hide it, afraid of “what people might think.” Certainly, there’s no need to shout it from the rooftops, as it were. It’s a personal matter and should be shared or not shared in the same way you would treat any other part of your private business. But if you are in conversation with someone and the topic naturally comes up, I encourage you strongly: be open about it. You’ll never know the help you might receive or give (and often both!) until you try.


© 2009 Paula Marolewski


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