Can I share something I’ve never shared with you before? When I step foot into a mall (or go shopping almost anywhere) I have anxiety. There is a part of me that can not relax. Over the years, I’ve hidden it. I’ve tried to not think about it. I distract myself. I will myself to have fun and enjoy the outing. But the feeling is always there. Deep down there’s this voice that whispers to me “You shouldn’t be here. You shouldn’t be shopping. You shouldn’t be walking around and looking at nice things.”
Healing from the Past
I’ve come a long way on the road to recovery but if I ever start to get cocky and think I’ve arrived…just take me shopping. I still have scars that sometimes crack open and begin to bleed again.
Yesterday, my son and I went to the mall together. I told him that after he accompanied me to a couple of shoe stores so I could find more running shoes then we could go there for a little bit. Like any good mom who forces her son to go shoe shopping with them, I told him we could stop in at the “fill your own candy bag” store. After picking out some candy, we walked down to Game Stop. As we walked along, I noticed the same old feeling walked along with me. You shouldn’t be here.
My first husband was a spender. He liked to live like a king. He liked to give others the false impression we had money. I was the nagging wife who was constantly on him about it. Early on in our relationship, I made the mistake of mentioning to some friends that we really didn’t have money to spend on something right then. On the drive home, my ex husband reprimanded me, threatened me, and called me names you wouldn’t even call your enemy. “Don’t you ever f***ing tell anyone about our money problems!”
From that day on, (while I was married to my ex-husband) money problems remained a personal matter. Things were falling apart behind closed doors, but I learned to wear a mask that said to the world: Everything Is Fine. One day, I remember a video arcade game showing up at our house. It was a vintage Star Wars sit down game that took up the whole corner of our living room. I was so upset. Every month we struggled to pay rent to our landlord, yet sitting in our living room now was a hunk of fun that cost nearly $2000.
Yesterday, as I stood in Game Stop with my son and looked at games, I wondered if complete healing would ever come. I took a deep breath and said a prayer. “Lord please take this anxiety. I know it’s okay to be here. I am spending time with my son. Please help me to enjoy this.” And, when I did, a beautiful thing happened. I felt better. I was able to relax and enjoy the moment.
I think from now on, I need to pray before I go shopping. I’ve never really thought of arming myself in this way. Shopping anxiety just seems like such a silly thing to pray about. But it dawned me yesterday. Choosing to hold onto anxiety when God stands ready to receive it, is even sillier. I’m tired of having shopping anxiety. I am tired of it stealing my joy. I’m ready for freedom and healing. I think 15 years is long enough to hold onto something unnecessarily.
Today, Lord, I give this to you. When you said you came to give me life to the fullest you meant it. Help me to believe it and claim it… even while I’m standing in the middle of a shopping mall.
“The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.” ~ John10:10
“Christ has set us free to live a free life. So take your stand! Never again let anyone put a harness of slavery on you.” ~Galatians 5:1 Message
Oh, and I did find some much needed new running shoes yesterday!
“I run in the path of your commands, for you have broadened my understanding.” Psalm 119:32