All posts by Abby Smith

About Abby Smith

Abby is a person. She works at being an emotionally intelligent person whose main focus currently is being a happy and loving mother to four kids and wife to Malcolm. Born and raised in a General church minister's family, she has been exposed to the Bible and the Writings since childhood but is enjoying reading and understanding these books as an adult more and more. The amazing knowledge about love and wisdom and all of the emotions that follow have truly made her a happier and more self-assured person. Her husband serves as the head pastor of New Church Westville near Durban, South Africa. While leaving family behind is a challenge, she quite enjoys living in Africa.

Painting to Calm My Anxious Brain

I’m a fairly anxious person. I over think and over analyse most things. From the moral, environmental, and health implications of every snack I choose for my kids each day, to how to spend my money (with many of the same worrying implications), or how to prioritise my life.

Often even as the over thinking is stressful and building I am able to manage. But it regularly builds and becomes overwhelming. I am learning that this happens most often if there is a bigger underlying stress. In recent months and years that underlying stress has been changing and I have made progress. But there are many large life questions I have been wrestling with that are still there even as they have shifted.

These big background stresses are complicated and interconnected and are hard to keep ahold of mentally. As I talked about that with a friend recently she suggested that I draw. No rules, no limits, no specific guidelines, just draw something of my mental worries. I am terrible at drawing without judging my skills (I can’t draw stick figures usually without just feeling so ridiculous), so I chose rather to paint abstractly. Continue reading Painting to Calm My Anxious Brain

The Change and Flow of Seasons

As we prepare for and adjust to the change in seasons, I was reminded of this passage from Ecclesiastes. There is a beauty to the balance that comes with change. There are times and seasons for different things, priorities, jobs and roles. The Lord leaves us in freedom to adjust and rebalance as those seasons move from one to another. Change and progression are a much needed part of life. I feel much of that expressed in these words of Ecclesiastes 3:

1 To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
2 A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
3 A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
4 A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
5 A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
6 A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
7 A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
8 A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.
9 What profit hath he that worketh in that wherein he laboureth?
10 I have seen the travail, which God hath given to the sons of men to be exercised in it.
11 He hath made every thing beautiful in his time: also he hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end.
12 I know that there is no good in them, but for a man to rejoice, and to do good in his life.
13 And also that every man should eat and drink, and enjoy the good of all his labour, it is the gift of God.
14 I know that, whatsoever God doeth, it shall be for ever: nothing can be put to it, nor any thing taken from it: and God doeth it, that men should fear before him.
15 That which hath been is now; and that which is to be hath already been; and God requireth that which is past.
16 And moreover I saw under the sun the place of judgment, that wickedness was there; and the place of righteousness, that iniquity was there.
17 I said in mine heart, God shall judge the righteous and the wicked: for there is a time there for every purpose and for every work.
18 I said in mine heart concerning the estate of the sons of men, that God might manifest them, and that they might see that they themselves are beasts.
19 For that which befalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts; even one thing befalleth them: as the one dieth, so dieth the other; yea, they have all one breath; so that a man hath no preeminence above a beast: for all is vanity.
20 All go unto one place; all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again.
21 Who knoweth the spirit of man that goeth upward, and the spirit of the beast that goeth downward to the earth?
22 Wherefore I perceive that there is nothing better, than that a man should rejoice in his own works; for that is his portion: for who shall bring him to see what shall be after him?

Want to know more about Ecclesiastes? You can read more here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ecclesiastes

Owning My Identity

When I sat down to write this article after weeks of thinking and making notes to myself I couldn’t compress my ideas into one article. I wrote one draft explaining the sort of identity crisis I have experienced in the last few months and resulting conflict and existential questions I have about where I fit into the world. Then I wrote another draft from a more doctrinal, intellectual perspective using teachings from the Writings about the intentional infinite variety that the Lord created resulting in the unending distinction of individual identities. I wrote another about the contentment and security in my own identity that has grown and developed in my years of being a stay-at-home mom and the peace that has come in that process.

Each draft held significant portions of my thoughts, each shared some of the profound realizations I have had in the weeks of thinking about this article. But I couldn’t get any one version to hold them all.

In talking through my article yesterday with some friends something was pointed out to me – part of my dissatisfaction was that all of these versions of reflections on identity are true and existing inside of me, even as they are in conflict and harmony with each other. Each version of my article felt true on its own, but still somehow lacked the punch I wanted. I think that was because, on their own, each one was too simple to hold the complete complexity of my reflections. Here’s my attempt to bring together those three drafts.

Over the last few months I have run into a boundary of what is required of my children (and therefore our whole family) by the school that they go to. I didn’t anticipate it, and it has thrown my sense of self into a spiral. It has brought on what I’ve decided to hold as something of an identity crisis for myself and my family. Questions about my goals in parenting and decisions for my children have all come crashing in on me. In particular, the purpose of education and extra activities both for my children and even myself, and how those things are developing and changing as my older children grow out of the small children phase.  My brain exploded. Now it feels like a flood of new and tense conversations need to happen between my husband and I. I need to seek out perspective from other people whose choices in these areas I respect. Now. Because the reality of my brain and anxiety means that I’m aware of these questions and that they will affect every. single. daily. decision.
Continue reading Owning My Identity

A Life in the World

When I get anxious I withdraw. Or maybe it’s simpler to say that only when I’m not anxious do I fully participate. There’s something small to be anxious about almost all the time. Something to be processing, holding, understanding, or accomplishing, and a need to do it “right.”

This last year has been an anxious one for me, and so one of near constant withdrawal – even as the loneliness and isolation has become a part of the problem. I have gotten a lot of things “right” this year in terms of my priorities – my kids and my marriage are pretty solid. We are happy in our day to day interactions. But something’s been missing for me, and I’ve been reflecting recently that I think it comes from too much separation. I’ve been holding back so as not to be overwhelmed, but held back so much that I’ve let go of some of the things that make life full and joyful. Continue reading A Life in the World