Struggling with Anxiety and Fear (India)

So, just the other day I realized that I have two weeks before I fly to India. Gee. Just two weeks! I feel like I haven’t done any prepping at all. I guess I felt like it was such a distant date that I didn’t feel the rush to prepare. Well, I’m rushing now.

As I begin preparing more earnestly, I’ve begun to experience something I didn’t really expect: FEAR. When I think about serving with the organization in Gujarat, I feel no fear. Believers will be there with me, to house me, feed me, and keep me safe. In Kolkata, I have no shortage of people I can call and be with. I probably have twenty people on hand in Kolkata. I’m super blessed.

The fear comes when I think about Goa, the first stop on my trip. I’ll be there alone, for a week. Goa is a party town. There will be a lot of drinking and drugs. Now, I’m not going anywhere near that. I’ll be staying away from all of the parties, and I will never go out late at night. I’ve been to India before; this is pretty standard. 

But, for some reason, this wave of fear rushed over me today as I thought about Goa. Although the Indian government has declared Goa the safest state in India for women, I felt afraid. What if something happens to me? What if someone robs me? What if someone in the hostel hurts me? Who do I know in Goa? No one!

Now, I think that if this fear were of God, meaning that God didn’t want me in Goa, He would’ve told me that WAY before. I had a plan to see Goa for months. I was excited when I booked my flight and accommodations, feeling absolutely no fear. You guys probably know I have a bit of a nervousness about me, so it’s natural that I would have feared Goa from the beginning. But I didn’t! I felt no sense of danger whatsoever. I knew I’d be safe because I have God and I know I’ll be staying away from the party scene. 

Yet this fear rushed over me today. A lot of fear about my sustainability in India has come to mind lately. I’ve had moments of “This doesn’t make sense. This isn’t going to work. You’re going to fail. What are you even doing with your life?”

The way I see it, these fears can come from one of four sources:
1. Myself
2. Other people
3. The devil
4. God

I believe that if God didn’t want me in Goa, if it were so terribly unsafe, He would’ve impressed that upon my heart from the beginning! 

I think this fear is of Satan. Please stand with me in prayer against fear, but also pray that I sense when it’s God cautioning me or Satan trying to scare me.

There are moments of questioning that I suffer from simply because I have a history of depression and anxiety. I ask myself, “What will I do if my anxiety is out of control?” “What if my depression comes back while I’m in India?” “What if I fail in India, what will I do after that?”

Now, I know I won’t be alone. I’ll have brothers and sisters around me to support me, love me, and care for me. But India is a hard country. It overwhelms all of your senses and as a woman, I have to be extra careful. 

Countless women have done this before me, women who don’t fit in as well as I do. Because of my tan complexion, dark eyes, and dark hair, I don’t stand out too much. There are women with fair skin, red hair, and blue eyes who have gone before me, paving the path for me. They’ve gone and done it all, by His power and for His glory. They undoubtedly faced seasons of anxiety and depression. It comes with the territory of this work. But, those seasons don’t mean the end is here. Our lives and purpose are FINISHED when Christ Himself takes us up to be with Him. As long as our hearts beat and our lungs fill with air, we have purpose here. I have to let Him bring me through these fears as they arise. I have to let Him hold me in these moments when Satan tries to make me think that I will fail and come to ruin.

 

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free.” – Luke 4:18

 

Blessings,

 

Gabrielle G.

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She Saw Me

Hey, readers.

Since I’ve been here in Georgia, I’ve noticed how contentious my Black Lives Matter shirt can be. In NYC, multiple people would exclaim their approval of it whenever I left the house with it on. But, here, oh no. I get stares and scoffs from old white men and approving looks from young and old African-Americans. It’s rare that an African-American openly applauds my shirt here in Georgia.

This morning, after church, I stopped by Mary Mac’s Tea Room in downtown Atlanta for lunch with my mother. We sat at the bar and enjoyed southern classics: fried chicken, fried green tomatoes, macaroni and cheese, and peanut butter pie. Black southerners have given us amazing food, have they not? Lord have mercy!

In the restaurant, I noticed that all around me were people of various backgrounds, but mostly black and white, segregated. That’s right. While segregation isn’t technically legal anymore in this country, people will still segregate themselves. In the room, there were several full tables with black families and one table with a white family. While eating lunch with my mom, I noticed that a young white lady, probably early 20s, kept glancing over at me. Immediately I ran through the possible reasons for this:

  1. She sees my shirt and disapproves. 
  2. She thinks my mom and I are being too loud.
  3. She’s a racist.

I’m not happy to admit this. I think I assume most white southerners are racist, but God has been showing me otherwise. You know, when she came up to the black waiter in the room, I immediately assumed she was going to complain about the black family next to her. Maybe she thought they were seated too close to her? I don’t know what I thought. But I prepared myself to verbally defend them, if she was going to complain. But, she didn’t. She just asked for a peach cobbler.

Lord forgive me. I try not to be too hard on myself when it comes to this, but it’s difficult.

Before leaving, this young white lady approached me, tapped me on the arm, and said,

” I just wanted to say that I love your shirt.”

“Oh, thank you so much!” I exclaimed, stunned!

“I’m a huge supporter…” she said, her eyes telling me that she wanted to say, “I totally think the police are racist and no one understands that racism still exists!”

“Oh, wow. Thanks! I really appreciate that!”

She sat back down with her family and we waved at each other before I left.

 

While walking back to my mom’s car, several thoughts ran through my mind. Wow. First of all, wow. This young white lady came over to me, pointed out my BLM shirt, and verbally agreed with me. But, she was doing so much more than offering up a compliment. She stood by me. She saw me. She acknowledged my struggle and the struggle of my PoC brothers and sisters. She became an advocate, standing alongside me, a young black Latina woman. 

Thank You, Jesus, for showing me that there are people who will stand by me, even when I don’t expect them to. Forgive me, Lord, for stereotyping white southerners and expecting the worst from them. They surprise me every day.

 

Blessings.

 

Gabrielle G.