Anxiety

Daily Bread: Faith When Things Fall Apart

I didn’t grow up saying the Lord’s Prayer, either in church on Sundays or on my own. I knew it, of course –-I could recite it if called upon to do so—but it was not a part of my spiritual life until about a year ago when I started reading morning prayers from Shane Claiborne’s Common Prayer on a regular basis. Each morning’s liturgy includes a recitation of the Lord’s Prayer.

For the past few weeks we’ve been attending an Anglican church here in Columbia and the Lord’s Prayer has a place in the Anglican liturgy as well.

“Our Father, who art in heaven. Hallowed be thy name,” we pray. “Your kingdom come, your will be done on Earth as it is in heaven.”

And then, “Give us this day our daily bread,” And this is where I get stuck.

About two months ago I wrote this post about provision. I wrote about how I wanted to whine and complain about all of the unknowns in my life, but when I took a break from whining, I really could see God’s hand and his provision in the way the pieces were coming together for us as we prepared to move.

I clung to those signs of provision. I strapped them on like a life preserver, protecting me from all that was still unknown. We arrived in Columbia buoyed by the things we did know – we had a great condo lined up, Jonathan was starting classes right away, and I had 4 or 5 freelance jobs in the pipeline ready for me to pursue. There were still a lot of questions, but these things gave us confidence that everything would fall together in the end. Instead, things fell apart.

A week after moving into our condo (and painting and decorating and getting it set up the way I’d imagined in our months of kooky Korean wallpaper and windowless rooms) we got a call from our landlord. The condo had been listed for sale for several months before they leased it to us and someone who had viewed it previously had put an offer on it. Just one week into our one-year lease they were asking if we could please move out. We did some negotiating and came to an agreement that feels fair to us, but this still means we will have to find a new place and move out of our beautiful condo within the next three months.

Before arriving in Columbia, we decided that I would take the month of September to try to make freelance writing work as my primary source of income. If things weren’t coming together by the end of September then I’d have to take whatever random job I could get. I had worked diligently for the past five months in Korea to make connections and pursue opportunities. I even took a contract job back in April for a company who paid me abysmally and juggled working for them with teaching full-time in an attempt to gain the experience I needed to work for a better company I’d been in contact with. I worked every connection I could think of and came to Columbia with 4 or 5 solid leads. I figured even if they didn’t all pan out, a few of them would, and this would be a great foundation to build on. We arrived and I started making phone calls, “I’m here now and available! What do you have for me?” And one by one the doors closed.

Now we are more than halfway through September and I’ve managed to scrounge up a grand total of 4 hours of consistent work/week. (Which would be spectacular if only I made $100/hr). I spend most of my days looking for and applying to jobs (freelance, part-time, and a few full-time) and while I’ve had several prospects, so far nothing has panned out. The more desperate I become the less picky I am about what I apply for and the more I feel like I am just whoring myself out for jobs I don’t even want. Each day that passes I struggle more and more with feelings of worthlessness and I end most days heavy with discouragement and with fear. I reach the end of another unsuccessful day and I am bombarded with the fear that I will not be able to provide. That we will run out of money. That my husband will have to drop out of his program –the one thing he’s ever been really passionate about– because I have failed him.

It’s hard not to feel like I was wrong about provision. Like I wanted to see God’s hand in this so badly that I squinted until I could convince myself it was there. It’s hard to feel like I can trust him when he seems to be all about taking things away.

And yet. Within a week of arriving here I was invited to join a women’s Bible study led by the friend who helped us so much with finding our place here. I went to meet people, even though the phrase “Women’s Bible Study” usually makes me want to throw up a little. And what I found was a group of women who are willing to be real.

Over the past few weeks I’ve had five separate women from that group text me, call me, take me out for coffee, or invite me to their homes. They have sent me leads on jobs and a new place to live. And last week when I arrived at the church they had brought bags of groceries from their own homes to help fill my pantry. If that’s not grace, I don’t know what is.

It struck me this week that this phrase I pray so often, “daily bread,” is, well, daily. It is not “Give us this day everything we need for the next five years,” or even, “Give us this day enough bread to last for the next month.” It is asking God for enough for today. And it is coming back to Him, needy, each new day.

So while I can’t always seem to muster up the faith to believe that God will provide an income and a new place to live, or even a final resolution to this ear infection I’ve had off and on since July, maybe all that is required of me is enough faith for just one day.

Give us this day our daily bread.

Thankful Thursdays Guest Post: For Antidepressants, and for Quitting Them

Are you as excited as I am for another Thankful Thursday? These posts always touch and inspire me and I love being able to share them with you. Today’s post is especially close to my heart because today’s writer is close to my heart. Laura and her husband Josh have been our closest friends during our two years in Korea. We had the great privilege of walking with them through Laura’s entire pregnancy, the birth of their first child, and the next year of transition into parenthood. This story touched me  because I was around to witness a lot of it, but also because I too have struggled with anxiety and depression and while I’ve never experienced the hormonal havoc of childbirth, I know what it is to have your mind and body betray you in frightening ways. I’m so thankful for Laura and her family and also for God’s work in her life through a very difficult and scary time.

For Antidepressants, and for Quitting Them

It was just shy of a year ago, as the clock struck one on a humid August night in Korea, that I birthed our beautiful daughter. My mom stood at one shoulder and my husband at the other and the doctor and nurses at my feet, all urging me to push as hard as I could after 24 hours of back labor had left me exhausted and whimpering.

Laura and Gen

Laura with one month old Genevieve

Then she was here, and she was perfect. I spent the next two weeks in a tired-but-wired state of attentiveness, Mom still on one side and Josh on the other, tirelessly supporting me in those early days of nursing and changing and cuddling and kissing this miracle, as I struggled to sleep when she slept and only managed about three hours out of every 24. Other than this, I felt like everything was going really well.

Until one morning a cloud descended. The adrenaline had run out, it seemed, and the rest of my hormones were going haywire in its absence. A few extra hours of blessed sleep did finally come, but it wasn’t enough. Something was wrong and it wasn’t just exhaustion. I had postpartum depression.

Except for how suddenly I crashed, it really wasn’t much of a shock. Throughout my teens and early 20s, I lived with low-grade anxiety, a constant tension in my tummy that I didn’t realize wasn’t normal till my chill-as-one-can-be husband came along and showed me how to relax. Then we moved to Korea to teach English, and the stress of doing a new job in a new country—and trying to do it perfectly—brought that anxiety back with a vengeance. This time depression came with it.

I limped through that year with copious amounts of pizza and beer and ice cream and TV (I know, I know), as well as a lot of prayer and care from Josh and friends and family. I did learn how to be a more effective EFL teacher and how to stop trying to be a perfect one, so things got better. But the lingering fatigue left me aching to go back home to Kansas, and we did, and it was good.

Fast forward three years to the August of our daughter’s birth, and we’d been back in Korea for almost a year. This time only Josh was teaching, and I was finishing up a low-stress pregnancy as a stay-at-home-mom-to-be, in a culture and with friends I was able to fully enjoy this time around. Some nausea and heartburn notwithstanding, I felt really good and right on track for an all-natural, “ideal” delivery and postpartum experience.

Maybe it was the intense back labor that kicked my body into high gear and kept it that way for those first two weeks postpartum until I crashed. Maybe I just didn’t prioritize sleep enough in those early days. Maybe I didn’t procure exactly the right nutrients to replenish my body and help my hormones rebalance themselves. Maybe I wasn’t getting enough sunshine and fresh air in our cave-like studio apartment at the end of a hot and rainy Korean summer. Maybe I was under spiritual attack in which evil voices whispered to me to toss my baby out our third-floor window so it would all just be over. Maybe it was some of all of these, or maybe I’m just wired for anxiety and depression, and there was nothing I could have done to prevent my curling into a ball day and night, my only real activities to nurse lying on my side and to choke down as much food as I could stand while my mom, husband and dad (who had since joined us) did all the diaper-changing, shopping, cooking, cleaning and loving on me and our sweet Genevieve.

Whatever the reason, it became obvious after two more weeks that fighting the PPD with food and sunshine and prayer just wasn’t cutting it (and the Lord knows we really tried). So on a rainy Wednesday morning my support group packed up me and our 4-week-old, and we all got on the bus to a mental hospital to ask for some antidepressants.

From here on out it is clear that I’m one of the lucky ones. Within days of starting a low dose of an SSRI that (please God, let it be true) seems to have done no harm to my nursling or me, my depression had eased and I was beginning to see the light. When Josh had to go back to work and my mom had extended her stay as long as she possibly could, my mother-in-law flew the thousands of miles to help us through the next few weeks, by the end of which even the anxiety had lifted and I was feeling downright happy. Our family of three started finding a “new normal” that involved leaving the house regularly, nursing in public on occasion and handling with relative serenity the caring, if nosy, advice of all the Korean grandmothers who treated us as their own.

The little white pills had pretty single-handedly brought me back to our world. So it was with intense gratitude (though certainly not always a perfect attitude) that I soaked up the next six months of motherhood while faithfully taking my meds each morning. And then spring came, and it was with cautious hope that I wondered if I might be able to wean myself off of them.

See, in addition to being a secretly anxious person most of my life, I have also been a not-so-secretly sensitive gal emotionally. I cry pretty dang easily, and while this is not always fun for those closest to me, my sensitivity and its related empathy feel like an important part of who I am.

But once on the antidepressant, I got to where I wasn’t crying ever, at all. And while no one else was complaining for sure, I missed being able to tear up during a touching movie scene or even break down a bit when something felt wrong in my world. So with the continued support of Josh and our loved ones both near and far, I decided to start cutting my dosage and see what happened.

Three months and just a few headaches and anxiety spells later, I am “drug free” and again one of the fortunate ones. It seems that my body just needed more time for the nutrition, sleep, sunshine, exercise, laughter, love and who-knows-what-else to help my hormones get back as they were meant to be, at least for now.

As an idealist, I wanted so badly to use only these “all-natural” gifts from God to bring about my healing (or even prevent illness in the first place), and it is possible I just didn’t figure out or follow through early enough with what could have allowed me to avoid the side effects and risks of manmade meds full of synthetic chemicals. But depression wasn’t waiting for me to fix things naturally, and I see the drugs as a stopgap measure, a less-than-sterile piece of cloth used as a tourniquet because you’d bleed to death waiting for a clean one to get on the scene.

I also see the hand of God behind this less-than-ideal means of grace. Even as I celebrate the fact that I don’t seem to need antidepressants anymore, I firmly believe that our Lord, who works in all the things of this broken world for good, can use even imperfect little white pills to fight the darkness and bring light.

And for that I am so very thankful.

Sweet Rhoades FamilyLaura Rhoades is wife to Josh, mom to Genevieve and photographer to women. Before moving back home in August to her hometown of Wichita, Kansas, she’ll be spending her final weeks in Korea singing karaoke, soaking and scrubbing at the sauna and scarfing down as much mul naengmyeon and bingsu as possible. You can find her online at www.laurarhoades.com.

Laura Rhoades is wife to Josh, mom to Genevieve and photographer to women. Before moving back home in August to her hometown of Wichita, Kansas, she’ll be spending her final weeks in Korea singing karaoke, soaking and scrubbing at the sauna and scarfing down as much mul naengmyeon and bingsu as possible. 

When Waiting Feels Like Free-Falling or How Trust is my Nemesis

I loathe dislike waiting with a fiery passion.

I know, I know. Does anyone really like waiting? But I REALLLLLLY don’t like it.

I’ve been living in a state of constant frustration lately. As we prepare for our international move, I am beyond ready to have things settled. I want to have a job set up and waiting for me when I arrive. I want to find an apartment or rental house for us to live in. I want to get rid of as much uncertainty as possible. Yet every time I try to take a step forward, people tell me I can’t. That I have to wait. I’ve applied for dozens of jobs and received the response, “Why don’t you get in touch with us once you’ve arrived.” Hubby and I have spent hours looking for a place to live only to be told, “It’s really too early for you to be looking at rentals.”

I can barely keep myself from shouting, “But we are leaving in 65 days! It does not feel too early! I need to know NOW!” 

This whole situation has brought out an embarrassingly juvenile side of myself.  I feel angry all the time. A few days ago I burnt dinner. Before my husband could even say anything, I glared at him and said, “If you want a new one you have to make it yourself. I’m not making another one.” And he did. (That guy is a saint, I tell you).

It’s like I’ve taken all of my frustrations about the things I can’t do and tried to balance them out by making certain that I let everyone know what I will and will not do in any situation where I have the choice.

See, I like to pretend that I’m an adventurous person. And from the outside, I can see how I might look like one. After all, I live in a foreign country, I love to travel and to try new things, I’m preparing for my fourth move in five years – and three of those moves have been to places I’d never been before. Oh, and let’s not forget my illegal tattoo!

It’s easy to look like a laid-back, carefree adventurer in pictures. Don’t be fooled. It’s an illusion. I am all about the adventure, but it’s highly controlled adventure. I love being spontaneous, but it’s planned spontaneity. (Yes, there is such a thing).

I am that rare personality that combines constant yearning for adventure and excitement with an equally strong sense of responsibility. Add in an unhealthy dose of chronic anxiety, and you’ll see why I live in a state of constant inner-conflict. Basically, I’m a rebel trapped in a good girl’s body. Or maybe it’s the other way around…

Usually the way that I balance these parts of my personality is by planning as much as possible and preparing for all contingencies. (“Always be prepared!” as my Eagle Scout father instilled in me). I try to think things all the way through and prepare myself for the worst possible scenario. Once I feel prepared for whatever I might encounter, I can take the plunge and do something crazy because I know there’s a safety net in place. I know what I’ll do if things don’t go as planned.

We moved to Korea having never set foot in Asia. But we did a TON of research first. We secured jobs through the government so that we were sure there would be accountability for things like getting paid the proper amount on time. We chose to go through a program that would provide an orientation rather than one that left us to our own devices. And we talked to lots of people who had worked in Korea before. We arrived with an entire suitcase full of things we’d been told were difficult to find (deodorant, taco mix, and tampons) and we had decided from the very beginning to play things by ear. We signed a year-long contract that we would try hard to fulfill, but we’d told ourselves that if it was absolutely horrible, we could decide to go home. Safety net!

I’ve shared that I’ve been struggling with anxiety at a new level over the past few months as I’ve been faced with all the unknowns of our future, so I’ve tried to deal with this anxiety the best way I know how – by being responsible and making myself feel as secure and on top of things as I can. So it’s been not only frustrating, but frightening for me to be told over and over again that there’s nothing more I can do. That I just have to wait.

I am realizing that this is a big fat TRUST issue. (Ah, Trust, my nemesis. We meet again!) I am unable to accept that things might still be OK even if I can’t check all the things off of my list in the time frame that I want to. I am unable to rest in the knowledge that I’ve done everything I can do. I am unable to accept the logic that things will work out the way they are meant to work out, regardless of how much I worry about them now. I am unable to accept that when God leads us somewhere, he doesn’t leave us to figure everything out by ourselves.

I have a big fat trust issue and I’m being forced to trust anyway. It’s like God has taken away the lifelines of planning and responsibility and asked me to believe the safety net is there, even though I didn’t install it myself. It would be funny if it wasn’t so horrible.

Right now I feel like I’m in a slow-motion free fall. And I have two options – I can fall kicking and screaming and lashing out at everyone around me for all the things I can’t change, or I can relax and enjoy the view while it lasts.

HEADER IMAGE CREDIT: JUN GIL PARK ON FLICKR CREATIVE COMMONS

I’m an Introvert, Not a Recluse: On Joining the Quiet Revolution

Sometimes people are surprised to learn to that I consider myself strongly introverted. To many people, introvert is a synonym for anti-social, shy, or awkward.

I understand why people are surprised. After all, I do talk to people. I don’t seem especially shy.  Sometimes I’m even loud and boisterous. But what most people don’t see is how most of the time I have to fight my urge to back out of social commitments and just stay home. They don’t see how I get so anxious and nervous before a party, or meeting new people, or having an uncomfortable conversation, or hanging out with someone who feels out-of-my-league, that I sweat through my clothes and my whole body shakes so hard that my teeth chatter.

I’ve written here before about my (apparently well-hidden) social anxiety and how my classic remedy has often been to over-compensate, pushing myself to be overly cheerful, loud, energetic, and funny (and usually becoming pretty obnoxious in the process) when in social settings. I didn’t realize until fairly recently that all of these things are coping mechanisms of a sort. They are ways that I try to handle my anxiety and they are ways that I try to conform to an extroverted ideal.

Last year I read Susan Cain’s book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking. This book was fascinating on so many levels. It helped me make sense of the parts of my personality I’d always viewed as contradictory or even flawed and it helped me recognize all the ways that Western culture embraces extroversion as the ideal and subtly (or not-so-subtly) encourages us to act like extroverts even if we aren’t.

I am introverted in the most classic sense of the word – I am more energized by being alone than I am by being with people. This doesn’t mean that I don’t like being with people and it doesn’t mean that I have no social skills. It simply means that being with other people takes more energy from me than it gives, so I have to spend time alone in a peaceful environment to reboot and regain energy.

However, I am also a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP). As the name suggests, HSPs are people who are very sensitive to their surroundings. In Quiet, Cain presents research on HSPs that was very meaningful to me because it made sense of parts of my personality I couldn’t’ understand. HSPs can get easily irritated by loud noises or bright lights or harsh textures. They can be more easily upset by things like violent movies and can have difficulty handling stressful situations without becoming overwhelmed. But HSPs are also tend to experience empathy and compassion more easily, to appreciate the finer things in life, and to have a rich and complex inner life.

Not all highly sensitive people are introverts and not all introverts are highly sensitive, but a larger percentage of highly sensitive people are introverts than extroverts. Both my husband and I are introverts, but I am a highly sensitive and more social whereas my but my husband is quieter and is not highly sensitive

Before reading this book, I’d always felt confused by this seeming contradiction in my personality. Even in my own mind, introverts were quiet and stoic people, but my emotions were easily influenced by my surroundings. I laugh easily and cry even more easily. None of this seemed to jive with the rest of my introverted characteristics. Cain’s book helped me understand my own personality and wiring better and also helped me appreciate how some of the things I’ve always considered flaws in myself can actually add value to my relationships and community.

I know I’m not alone in struggling to understand myself, the way I’m wired, and how I fit in with my family, my community, and with society. In fact, so many people responded positively to Quiet that Susan Cain and a team of collaborators have decided to launch a lifestyle website dedicated to exploring the value of being an introvert in an extrovert’s world. The website, Quiet Revolution, launches today and is designed to empower and connect introverts across the globe.

If you’re an introvert, you should read Quiet. If you’re not an introvert, you probably love someone who is, so you should still read this book. And if you are interested in participating in an online community of writers, thinkers, and influencers who are all introverts, you should head over to the Quiet Revolution site and check it out.

The world needs to re-think Quiet, because introverts have ideas worth listening to, even if they aren’t the ones shouting the loudest.

Geronimo: On Falling With Style

There’s an old Michael W. Smith/Rich Mullins song called “Step by Step” that I remember singing often as a child. If you were a child (or parent) of the 80’s and 90’s chances are you are familiar with it. The lyrics, borrowing from the Psalms, go like this:

“I will seek you in the morning. And I will learn to walk in your ways. And step by step you’ll lead me. And I will follow you all of my days.”

The song makes it all sound so gentle. I picture those early morning rays on a peaceful beach, Jesus walking just a step or two ahead with me taking small steps into the footprints he’s left behind. The camera pulls back and we see an endless stream of footprints behind me and the horizon ahead, stretching on into eternity. It’s like a motivational poster in an elementary school classroom.

But let’s get real here. For about the last ten years I don’t think God has been leading me step by step. It’s been more like cliff dive after cliff dive. I feel like old-school Mario, you know, before he could fly or turn into a penguin and skim across the ice on his belly. Old-school Mario had to jump to get anywhere and most of the time he was jumping from one inexplicably floating block of brick to another with lots of empty space in between.

mario

My friend Karissa recently wrote a post about some “Geronimo” decisions she’s been making. She explains these as the kinds of decisions that would normally require lots of planning, pro and con lists, internal debates, and lots and lots of detailed information. But lately, she’s found herself making some big decisions quickly and choosing not to regret or second-guess them.

Decisions are hard for me too. I am often plagued with the fear of making the wrong decision. I’m afraid of making the wrong decision and regretting it later, but I’m also afraid of not choosing something and always wondering, “What if?” It’s hard for me to pick the restaurant for dinner or the movie we should watch or which jeans look better, so it’s surprising that most of my biggest life decisions have been Geronimo moments. They were moments where I took a flying leap and never looked back.

At eighteen, I chose to go to college near Chicago, even though I’d never lived outside of Louisiana and had much better scholarship offers elsewhere.

Jonathan and I got married at twenty-two with nothing but a crazy amount of love and two degrees that the ink hadn’t even dried on yet.

The next year we decided to leave Illinois and picked a place on the map where we thought we might like to live. We showed up in Raleigh, NC, a city we’d never even seen before, with two cats, no jobs, and lots of dreams and it quickly became “home” to us.

A few years later, we put all of our things into storage, found a long-term cat-sitter for our fur babies, said good-bye to our friends and family and got on a plane to Korea. We moved to a new country and a new culture that we knew next to nothing about and where we didn’t speak the language.

Each of these were big decisions that we thought about and prayed about beforehand, but when it came down to it, we knew we just had to leap and trust that we’d make it to that next floating rock.

Now we are preparing for another giant leap and somehow this feels like the greatest leap of trust I’ve ever taken. I’ve written a little about the anxiety I’ve been dealing with lately, but I am more afraid of returning home to America than I ever was of moving to Korea.

More than all of the practical elements of our move to yet another new city, making friends, finding a new job and a new place to live, my biggest fear is that I’ll discover that I no longer belong. Already I have been struggling with feeling distant and disconnected from my friends. I have been coming to terms with the fact that going back to America will not just be like coming home. It will be the start of an entirely new adventure. And as much as I love a good adventure, this is the 4th time we’ve moved in 5 years and I’m tired of starting over.

And yet, this is so clearly the path we are meant to take. It’s the next cliff we’re meant to dive off of.

If there’s one thing I know about trust, it’s this. Trust doesn’t necessarily mean that you aren’t afraid. Trust simply acknowledges that there is something bigger than your fear. It recognizes that your fear is not the only thing and also that it’s not the strongest thing.

Karissa writes, “But some days, you need to live a Geronimo life. You need to make a Bombs Away decision. You need to believe that your gut feeling is enough, that you are enough, that you will dive through that waterfall, be baptized by its drops, and come out on the other side knowing that you survived free-fall. So here’s to you, to both of us, to our fear, to our bravery, to our confidence.”

Sometimes I wonder if we’re even moving forward. It feels like we just keep falling off things. And then I remember the immortal wisdom of Toy Story and think that maybe what we’re really doing is flying. Because we know that flying is just falling with style.

falling with style

This post is part of a link-up over at Karissa’s blog about Geronimo moments. If you have your own Geronimo story, write about it and join the link-up!

Image credit: Ryan C Wright, Flickr

The Color of Anxiety

If Anxiety was a color it would be orange.

Jolting, abrasive, in-your-face, caution-cone orange. Orange like the fire that burns in my belly or, more often lately, shoots fiery bolts of pain from somewhere under my arm up across my collarbone to my chest, down around my forearm into my fingers and back up over my shoulder ending somewhere between my trapezoid and deltoid. Sharp, electric jolts from some bundle of nerves that are pinched tight, ready to explode in a thousand little needle-pricks at the barest provocation.

Anxiety is flamboyant, it waves a flag and shouts and refuses to be ignored, but it has a subtle side as well. iI can hide itself in shadows. It tucks itself into corners and lurks behind closed doors just waiting for the smallest opening. You go about your life without giving it much thought. Then it slips in like light seeping through a gap in the curtain and pools inside faster than you can imagine. Almost instantly it invades the whole room.

Anxiety knows how to shout louder than reason. It knows how to push aside what is true, what is rational, and what is comforting and stoke fear.

Anxiety knows how to isolate. It knows how to make you feel that you carry a burden you can never really share – because it weighs too heavily on others or because they never really understand. You try to explain but they can’t hear what you’re saying. You say, “Anxiety” and they hear, “Stressed. Worry-wart. Over-dramatic.”

“You’re being ridiculous.” “You need to let things go.” “You should stop worrying.” “You need to trust God more.” And they are right. And they are wrong. And either way and both ways they make you feel more alone.

Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

I don’t know how to choose peace. When my chest gets tight and my heart races and I feel like I can’t breathe, I don’t know how to choose peace over fear. I don’t know how to find peace when a sudden, unexpected burst of panic hits me. I don’t even know if I can.

Instead, I find myself praying for Peace to find me.

“Give peace, O Lord, in our days because there is no one else who will fight for us If not You, our God.”