Tell Me How You Really Feel - The Anna Szabo Show Podcast for Christian Women

Today, I want you to tell me how you really feel. 

To help you, I will share my own journey of learning about feelings and understanding how my emotions impact my life and my growth process

If you enjoy this episode, please consider leaving a review on iTunes. That’s how you help others find this content. 

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Often in life, we either don’t know what we feel or are hesitant to admit what we feel because we think certain feelings are either sinful or less than. That’s when we deny our feelings, fight them, resists them, and avoid them.

Have you ever felt that way? I certainly have.

But today I won’t only share the examples and stories from my personal life, I also got a permission to share some stories from the life of my good friend. We will call her Elena (it’s not her real name though). 

She is a beautiful young woman who lives in NY. She is now at the age I was 10 years ago, when I started making a lot of mistakes. 

She was raised in the environment opposite of my abusive family: she was loved and cared for. Yet, everything she feels today I either feel or felt in the past and how she processes life is my exact experience. 

I thought you would be moved and touched if I included some of her stories into this episode.

This podcast is aimed to help YOU understand yourself. To lay the foundation for what we will be discussing, I wanted to first share with you some stories showcasing the emotions and feelings of Jesus. Why?

Because often we don’t want to acknowledge our own emotions as we see them ungodly and sinful. What I’m about to share with you will help validate any and all of the emotions YOU experience on a daily basis.

The Bible mentions clearly the the feelings Jesus felt:

  • Anger
  • Grief
  • Excitement
  • Compassion
  • Anxiety
  • Empathy
  • Desperation
  • Surrender
  • Love

Of course, the Bible has many more of the emotions of Jesus discussed but this podcast is about YOU, that’s why we will take a look at just those few emotions to lay the foundation for the content I’ll share with you in just a few minutes.  

Ok… Let’s take a closer look to explore the emotions of Jesus now. 

Jesus Felt Anger.

Mark 3:5 portrays Jesus “looking around with anger” at religious leaders: “He looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts, said to the man “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was completely restored.” 

Why was Jesus angry? Because the religious leaders were concerned only to see if Jesus would break their rules by healing a man on the Sabbath which is when you’re not supposed to “work”. 

When Jesus did, they immediately plotted to kill him. But though Jesus was angry with these religious rulers, he was also “grieved by their hardness of heart.” 

While the cruelty of their actions deserved his anger, the condition of their stony hearts caused him grief. Remember this please, because we will be referring to this story again in today’s episode. 

Jesus Felt Grief.

So, we already mentioned that Jesus felt grief for the hearts of stones the religious leaders had.

Jesus also wept at the tomb of Lazarus. John 11:33 describes it: When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled.”

John 11:38 continues to explain how when he stepped near to the tomb of his friend, “again he was greatly disturbed”.  Jesus wept (John 11:35).

The most powerful example of grief for me personally is described in  Matthew 26:38: “Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”” Can you relate? Have you ever felt like this? Has your soul ever been overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of not even wanting to live? I know I have felt this way when my husband of 4 months filed for a divorce last year, telling me he doesn’t want to be married anymore and all he wants is to be an IronMan and compete in Kona. 

Jesus Felt Excitement. 

Jesus loved with strong desire. Luke 22:15 explains how He told his friends: “I have desired with great desire to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.” 

The combination of the verb “desire” and the noun “desire” doubles the intensity in Jesus’ expression of his deep excitement to be with friends.

Have you ever experienced genuine excitement about something or someone? Excitement in anticipation of spending quality time with someone special? Excitement about a gift? Excitement about a new stage of life? A new project? A book or piece of art? A trip? A party?

Jesus Felt Compassion. 

The Bible has several stories in which we see that Jesus felt deep compassion. Compassion for people in need: a leper (Mark 1:40-41), a widow by the coffin of her only son (Luke 7:13), and two blind men (Matt. 20:34). 

He also felt compassion when he saw crowds starving for bread (Mark 8:2). And many more examples.

Jesus Felt Anxiety. 

Jesus was “troubled in spirit” when he told his disciples that one of them would betray him  in John 13:21: “After he had said this, Jesus was troubled in spirit and testified, “Very truly I tell you, one of you is going to betray me.”” 

He begged them to stay awake and keep him company, but they “slept because of sorrow.” His emotions were too heavy for them to bear, so they escaped into sleep, leaving Jesus alone. 

Mark 14:33 explains: “He took Peter, James and John along with him, and he began to be deeply distressed and troubled.” Jesus agonized over the awful choice to endure or to escape the cross. As he wrestled in prayer, he was drenched in his own sweat “which ran like blood to the ground” (Luke 22:44).   

Mark 14:36 shows us the severe anxiety Jesus went through: “Abba, Father,” He said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not my will but your will be done.” This last statement Jesus made to God is a demonstration of complete surrender. So…

Jesus Felt Surrender. 

Surrender means no matter what, you deny yourself and you give up control to let God’s good works happen. Just like the Gospel of Mark, Luke 22:42 describes Jesus praying to God: “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” 

Jesus Felt Empathy. 

Jesus’ empathy flowed out from his intimacy with His Father God. It was after a time of withdrawal to a lonely place by himself for prayer that Jesus saw the leper and felt empathy, the ability to feel what people felt.

Mark 1: 35-42 and Matthew 14:13-14 describe just some examples of how Jesus felt empathy. 

Jesus Felt Irritation. 

Jesus felt “indignant” – Mark 10:14 – says when His disciples did not allow mothers to bring their children to him for his blessing. 

“Indignant” is a feeling characterized by expression of strong displeasure at something considered unjust, offensive, or insulting.

What happened was the disciples’ self-importance irritated Jesus. Jesus slapped them with rebukes: “Let the children come to me; stop preventing them.” Jesus then hugged the children and blessed them.

Jesus Felt Love. 

Jesus pointed to His sacrificial death as the ultimate measure of His love. John 15:13: “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” Jesus asked His friends to live up to that standard of love. “This is my commandment: love one another, just as I have loved you.” (John 15:12). 

To live by that standard of love requires much more than emotions. 

It calls for total commitment to give up your life for someone else and to trust in the power of God to keep that commitment. 

But loving as Jesus loves also includes emotions—intense, diverse, deep emotions. 

His kind of love will arouse emotions of compassion, anger, grief, and joy. Have you ever felt that strong feeling of love and care for someone?

I know I have. This kind of sacrificial love is what I experienced for the first time in my life toward the man I married last year on 5/14/2016.

This kind of love we will be referring to in our today’s discussion and in the future podcast episodes as well.

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I’d like you to pause now and answer one question: how do you feel this very moment? Can you recognize and label your feeling?

If you’re not sure what feelings there ARE to feel, simply go to annaszabo.com/feelings and you’ll see examples of negative, positive, and neutral feelings you might feel, so you can recognize them.

But in this moment, are you feeling… excitement? Judgement? Cynicism? Joy? Acceptance? Sarcasm? Fear? Anger? Surprise? Anxiety? Resentment? Anticipation? Compassion? What is it? Let’s pause and answer this by listening to what is happening on the inside.

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If you figured out how you feel, share with me at annaszabo.com/feel

Want to know how I feel right now? I feel blessed to have this opportunity to discuss the topic of emotions which has been the most critical in my adult life to help me heal. 

I also feel a lot of anxiety sharing my heart with you through the content I prepared. What I plan to reveal in this podcast today is by far my most open, honest, and vulnerable disclosure. 

I feel excited knowing that when you hear this episode, it will really help you, it will comfort you, and it will facilitate your healing as well. 

And I also feel thirsty, so let me drink some water. One moment please. 

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Feelings are interesting and intriguing.

It’s not easy to differentiate what you feel.

Sometimes you think you’re angry but it’s just ego.

Other times, you think you’re indifferent but everyone sees your true zeal.

So, how do you understand your feelings?

It takes practice and it takes willingness to feel.

To point out different emotions’ causes and meanings,

You need to study this topic if you truly  want to heal. 

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This topic is my passion! You see, I am a vacillator and I’ll explain in a few min what that means. But vacillators are people who mostly don’t have a clue how they feel and their primary emotion is mostly anger.

It was true for me for many years. 

Growing up, there wasn’t a lot of space or opportunity for me to feel anything but anger and rage. I had to survive. Every day. I had to fight for my life. I had to defend myself. 

If you don’t know my story, it is shared on annaszabo.com/about

Our Childhood Experiences Significantly Influence Our Emotional Profile As Adults. 

I never believed it until late 2013.

That was when I left my ex-husband and two step-sons. I was in my car driving. And I called my girlfriend to tell her that my marriage was over. 

I told her in a manner you’d report a weather for the day. She was silent and then she said: “Well, are you going to cry? How are you feeling?” and I said: “No, I’m not going to cry. I’m not feeling anything.”

And it was true…. 

Right after that, I had the most severe spike in my sexual addiction, sought help, came to Jesus, took my celibacy journey, and everything changed for me.

By the way, if to you, that was all new information about me, make sure to visit annaszabo.com/about to learn the whole story.

Everything changed… because I opened myself to exploring my emotions, feelings, my painful past, my actual pain in the moment by grieving, and with that, I can tell you my human experience on earth has been so much more fulfilling, rich, and satisfying. 

And I stopped escaping my life into sexual addiction.

Luckily, I had a great mentor at Buckhead Church here in Atlanta, which I attended between 2011 and 2016. 

My mentor gave me a great book called “Discovering Intimacy: Relating to God and Others as a Single Adult” That book was not just a read, it was a journey of studying yourself, your life experiences, the influence of childhood relationships on how you relate to the world around you today, and so much more.

I studied the book and had a “journey mate” as the book suggested. 

It was a woman who studied the material with me. We did the book exercises together, and then shared our findings and breakthroughs.

I was also seeing a sex-addiction therapist at the time.

I remember this meeting with her, when she was asking me about my childhood and how I felt. And I said I was just fine. 

I truly believed that I was fine. 

Because I was clueless, really. I had no idea….

I remember this life-changing moment when she asked me “Anna, have you ever grieved?” 

And I was like WHAT? 

She clarified: “Basically, have you ever pulled out your childhood pictures, looked at them, cried, imagined what it would be like TO HAVE a father, to have a loving mother, to be accepted and not abused, to not ever experience rape or suicide ever… Have you grieved?”

I thought she was out of her mind. Completely. 

I thought to myself: “Surely, this woman is crazy.”  

I told her: “No, I have never done this and why would I? This sounds like emotional suicide, why would I ever want to do this” 

She replied: “That is called grief. It heals you.”

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I left that therapy session so frustrated with her. 

I called my friend who was a big, tall guy, always smiling, the kind of guy whom you’d never imagine do the things the therapist asked me to do. 

I wanted to complain to him about her crazy suggestion but I first asked him about the support group he was attending after losing his 5 year old son to a 33-month long cancer battle.

He told me he found a grief support group and was excited. 

He told me how helpful the grief support group was to him. 

I asked him how it was helpful and what exactly he was doing there. 

He said: do you REALLY want to know about grief?

And I said yes.

He went on to explain how grief is something that comes upon you and you have to process it for as long as it lasts. You have to give into it. You have to make time and space for it.

He explained that he had pictures of his dead son on his iPhone and when grief would come, he would get the pictures out, close the door, sit in a chair, look at the pictures, and weep.

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I was speechless. Even now as I’m telling you this I have chills. 

I realized that the therapist was not crazy. I did pull out my pictures and I did, little by little, start imagining what it would have been like to have a good family, a safe home, and be loved and accepted. And I wept. 

Again and again and again. I wept.

And in the process, I was learning to feel. 

I was relaxing into whatever feelings were coming upon me. 

I was not resisting them. 

And as my anger got acknowledged, understood, and healed, the room was created for joy, compassion, and a variety of other human feelings.

It all took time. It’s been a process. A painful one but I love the benefits of it.

That’s what I want to talk about today.

Remember, in the beginning of this episode I mentioned that I was a vacillator? And I promised to share with you what that means.

So, from the same mentor at Buckhead Church whom I mentioned already, I got the gift of book called “How We Love” 

I will link to all the books mentioned here at annaszabo.com/feel

That book taught me that our childhood experiences and attachments cause us to develop emotional profiles classified into 5 categories:

  • Vacillators
  • Avoiders
  • Pleasers
  • Controllers
  • Victims

Just real quick, let me tell you about each. This information is provided by HowWeLove.com

Vacillator.

Growing up with an unpredictable parent, Vacillators’ needs aren’t top priority. Without consistent parental attention, they develop feelings of abandonment, and by the time the parent feels like giving affection again, their child is tired of waiting and too angry to receive. 

As adults, Vacillators are on a quest to find the consistent love they never received as children. They idealize new relationships, but then get tired of it once life (and the relationship) gets less than perfect.

This profile has always been me. My mother was never an adult, she was very childlike and she always needed me to take care of her emotional needs. The relationship we had was ENMESHED, when the roles of a mother and daughter become entangled. In an enmeshed relationship, a mother provides her daughter love and attention but tends to exploit the relationship, fortifying her own needs by living through her daughter.

My mother has always lived and lives now with her mother. My mother is 60+ years old and my grandmother is 90. My mother’s sister also lives there with her multiple lovers. That’s how I grew up. My mother would tell me: I didn’t get to sleep with a lot of men, you go and do it for me and for you. And I would. And then she’d ask me the details. I was very young and had no idea what was happening, but talking about my experiences with men was the only way to bond with my mom who was otherwise saying “I hate you and I just want you dead!”

Growing up in an enmeshed relationship with my mother, I developed high empathy as I always had to scan her emotions to predict if I’d be beaten up or hugged any moment. That is what you need to know about me as we talk about Narcissistic Abuse next week. Narcissists look for empaths to use them as their Narcissistic Supply. The Narcissist himself has an emotional profile of an self-centered Avoider. 

Avoider.

Coming from a home that is often low in affection, but which place high value on independence and self-reliance, the Avoider grows up learning only to take care of himself. 

To deal with the anxiety of having so little comfort and nurturing from his caregivers or  parents, he has learned to restrict his feelings and suppress his needs. 

As an adult, the Avoider can seem emotionally distant or unengaged.

Not all avoiders are narcissists. But the Narcissist in your life is likely the Avoider. I was married to a Narcissist. 

The Narcissist gives you Silent Treatment if he is unhappy or upset, he doesn’t verbalize his thoughts, he stonewalls you instead setting you up for a failure every time,  because he never matured enough to an adult able to have a productive conversation. He doesn’t know how this makes you feel because he himself has no feelings. How come? Ok…

Remember that the Avoider had to suppress his feelings and emotions in his childhood? Well, he grew up into the Narcissist who doesn’t have any feeling or emotions at all, except the ones he mirrors from others because he doesn’t have Real Self.

The Narcissist has only his Ego that needs to be puffed up with praise, compliments, medals, and admiration of others at all times.

But, he hides this fragile Ego by pretending to be a Pleaser. So, the next emotional profile is Pleaser.

Pleaser. 

Pleasers usually grow up in a home with a parent who is overly protective, angry, and/or critical. Pleaser children do everything they can to “be good” and avoid troubling their highly-reactive parent; they learn to spend their energy comforting or appeasing their parent, instead of receiving comfort themselves. As adults, Pleasers tend to continually monitor the moods of those around them in an attempt to keep everyone happy. However, this can lead to resentment, an emotion that can break down a relationship or drive a Pleaser to leave.

I was married to a Pleaser. He always lived with his mother and is now married for the 4th time, has 3 children… and still lives with his mother.

The Pleaser rarely can be a husband or a productive, involved partner to anyone because he is already married to his mother and she is certainly not letting her powers go. All he wants is to be “good” and complies with his controlling mother’s demands of him. He has no direction, except that his mother sets for him.

Be careful not to confuse the Avoider Narcissist with Pleaser because the Narcissist only pretends to be a Pleaser to be liked by people who give him praise, which is essential to feed his fragile Ego. That’s why he also always needs a victim who suffers his abuse. Victim is next in line.

Victim.

Victim profile is an adult who was a kid surviving a chaotic home environment by trying to “stay under the radar,” making themselves as invisible as possible. They would hide, learning how to escape into their own heads to lessen the pain from their angry, violent, chaotic parents. 

Victims lack a sense of self-worth and are often anxious and depressed. 

Rather than engage, they’ll resort to just “going through the motions” in order to get by. Victims may emulate their childhood home environment by pursuing a relationship with a Controller. 

I told you I was a Vacillator I many ways but we always have an emotional profile that’s a mix of two. For me, it’s primary Vacillator with a mix of a Victim.

This profile is in my mix, because I grew up experiencing violence every day at home. I was beaten, insulted, chased, humiliated, verbally abused… I was threatened with suicides, shamed for being born and being a girl…. 

Remember from my story I shared on annaszabo.com/about that police had to take me to a shelter because of the 4 police reports and domestic violence I endured in my first marriage? I was married to a controller at 24. That’s the last profile I’ll introduce to you today.

Controller.

Controllers need control to ensure that the vulnerable, negative feelings they experienced in childhood remain suppressed from their adult lives. Having control means having protection from feelings like fear, humiliation, and helplessness. However, anger is the one emotion that is not vulnerable, and so anger and intimidation are often used as means to maintain control. 

The Controller told me what he wants  me to do, when, he changed my cell phone number any time anyone but him called me, he followed me anywhere I went, even when he was supposed to be at work, and of course, I was beaten up regularly until police took me away. I was his 4th wife going through it with him. He was raised by an alcoholic mother and he hated women because of his childhood trauma.

No Emotional Profile Is Good Or Bad.

We all need to work on ourselves and learn how to feel, how to not be afraid of our emotions, how to relax into them and allow them instead of resisting them.

Resisting our own emotions causes us to deny a part of ourselves and resort to addictions or abuse to try to make ourselves feel better.

So, today I am ready to share with you some of the feelings and emotions I’ve learned to allow.

This is going to be tough for me. It’s been an uneasy journey learning to recognize and name feelings, and of course to feel them knowingly has been truly life-changing for me as a Vacillator who’s used to feeling primarily anger and rage. I’ll go down the list in no particular order, mixing positive feelings with painful ones so it’s less overwhelming.

I will start us off with admiration. And the reason why is because before Michel and I got married last year, we had a beautiful season of dating. He was so attentive, thoughtful, and cherishing toward me, that I wrote him a thank you note every time we saw each other. That became a Thanksgiving Journal I gave him as a wedding gift on 5/14 last year. After that, it was on the floor, in the dust, under the bed, and he never read it. But I wrote it consistently out of the sense of deep admiration for the kind of great man he presented himself to be when he was courting me. 

How To Feel Emotions Again.

1. Admiration 

Admiration is described as pleasurable contemplation. I will read to you some excerpts for the Thanksgiving Journal now.

When Michel filed for a divorce 4 months after we got married last September, I was severely depressed and I drew very close to God. He carried me through every day of that miserable life in our marital residence, all kinds of abuse and mental cruelty I endured there, and as a result, I wrote this oem admiring God. “God I Admire You” poem.

2. Doubt

Doubt is opposite of confidence. It’s a feeling of uncertainty. I experienced it every single day in my marriage with Michel: my paycheck was spent on his athletic endeavors and I had no money to buy food 3 times in 4 months of marriage because while he kept secret cash from me in his wallet, I genuinely deposited my full paycheck into our joint checking account. So, when he overspent, he was ok. I wasn’t. 

Three months into our marriage, I discovered he didn’t even bother to pay mortgage, electric bill, and life insurance he was responsible for paying. After I confronted him about that, he filed for a divorce, dismissed it, asked to reconcile, then filed for a divorce again. 

The doubt I experienced from all the uncertainty I faced in this marriage with Michel was paralyzing. 

Here’s what doubt feels like – reading from “Be Truthful” journal p.98

Doubt prevents you from taking action. It leaves you on the side of the road of life to be a mere observer of how others live to the fullest while you are wondering what you should do. 

Doubt leaves you wondering what if and later thinking what could have been. Don’t be a prisoner of doubt. Take action. Even if you are going to fail. For me, it’s the Case For Marriage journal. I felt so doubtful and stupid starting such a journal in the midst of the second divorce Michel filed for but I did anyway and it was so healing. It helped me grow. It helped me get closure. If you don’t know about the Case For Marriage journal, just listen to the Conversations With God episode on this podcast. Actually, this very podcast is the result of me overcoming my doubt. Can you imagine the doubt I had thinking about putting myself out there so openly and vulnerably? But I did it anyway, because I want to give glory and honor to God. It’s easy for people to praise God when life is rainbow-unicorny. I have been sharing my praise to God while going through depression, suicidal thoughts, divorces, I’ve been sharing and sharing that God is good and He is at work and there is hope. You need to recognize and overcome your doubt. What are you doubting?

3. Worry

Worry is defined as a process of one’s mind dwelling on difficulty or troubles. Worry and anxiety are both caused by doubt.

What worry looks like: reading from “Serenity” journal p.106

And to fight that, I parayed on my knees, in my car, at work, before bed, when I woke up, in the shower… Here’s the poem I wrote giving my worries to God:

“You’re Always Good” poem.

4. Love

We talked in the beginning how Jesus loved and how He commanded us to love the same way: sacrificially, selflessly, agape love, meaning unconditional type of love that helps people to forgive one another, to respect one another, and to serve one another, day in and day out.

I wrote several poems on this topic as I was on my journey of learning to love Michel that way, unconditionally, agape love. I did Love Dare on him twice and pursued him as my husband wholeheartedly. I will only share one poem with you here and then I will produce a podcast specifically dedicated to the topic of love.

The poem I will share is about agape love, unconditional love. I remember realizing what a privilege it was for me to have an opportunity to learn to love Michel sacrificially. I myself grew from the experience as a human and my relationship with God became so much more intimate. Here are the things I’ve learned about agape love.

Reading “Unconditional Love” poem

Loving Michel required of me that I forgive him daily and stay committed to him, which we will discuss in a minute, but most importantly that I pray for him non-stop. And I did, every day in the midst of all his nonsense, cruelty, divorces, I just keep praying for him as an act of my agape love.

Here’s just one poem prayer that came out of my prayers. It’s called “Praying For My Husband” I wrote it based on my study of what God called a husband to be in a marriage, which is what I asked of God for Michel regularly.

Reading “Praying For My Husband” poem

I expressed my love for Michel also through sacrificial actions. With my two back injuries, I was the only person cleaning our 1800 sq ft 2-story marital residence from May 2017 through April 2017. And the biggest sacrifice for me was mowing lawn. It was so physically painful but I did it anyway to show my agape love for Michel. 

Are you feeling love? I mean are you loving someone? The thing I realized on the journey of loving Michel as my husband but being unloved, rejected, betrayed, and cheated on in return is that what matters to our relationship with God and our eternity is OUR actions. 

I was under the care of a trauma counselor who works with victims of Narcissistic Abuse in 2016 but also I saw a Biblical counselor ever week on Wednesdays at 5 pm. She always told me that Michel’s actions toward me are irrelevant to my eternity but my actions toward Michel are everything. Are you focusing on loving the way Jesus called us to love? Are you doing the right thing out of gratitude to God, no matter the actions of your spouse? I have so much peace knowing I loved him wholeheartedly with all my might, not being perfect at all, and not even being skilled at loving Michel, but learning with dedication and applying what I was learning every day. I have grief that Michel did not love me and it’s fading. But if I didn’t know with confidence I gave my all to loving HIM, I’d be devastated forever. So, focus on how YOU love. Allow yourself TO love. Give yourself a permission to love like Jesus loved you. 

5. Judgement

Judgment is easy – it’s easy to judge others, we are also experts at judging ourselves, and taking personally judgement of others toward us. 

Remember I mentioned my beautiful friend Elena from NY? She has anxiety sometimes. I do, too. I know you do as well. She shares with her brother who’s her pastor and he tells her it’s ungodly and something is wrong with her. Do you think he is right?

Remember we started this episode with the feelings Jesus felt? Remember how much anxiety Jesus felt? He was fully God and Elena is not. The Bible instructs us to cast our anxieties on God, which means God told us we sure WILL have anxiety. Right? So, is this ungodly? Of course not, especially knowing Jesus Himself felt anxiety. 

Do you think Elena feels comforted by her pastor brother or he just escalates her anxiety? Of course he escalates it. How? Because hearing his judgement toward her, she then starts judging herself!. It’s vicious cycle. The only way out is to relax into whatever the experience and observe it, accept God’s grace, and move on renewed with Biblical truth of the Gospel: Jesus died to set us free from judgement, including self-judgement. God sees us as Holy, Righteous, and Redeemed.

And we can see others as such. Reading from “Be Truthful” p.57. 

6. Compassion 

Compassion motivates people to go out of their way to help the physical, spiritual, or emotional pains of another human being. I felt so much compassion for Michel in our marriage, knowing his childhood story and recognizing his trauma. That’s why I decided to love him with agape love though the thick and thin he chose for us.

The experience that I’m grateful for every day now is when on February 13th this year he became very sick after he did just another IronMan race for just another medal in Alabama.

It was time when I took a few days off work to prepare for our upcoming divorce trial and I needed to submit a ton of documents. I was living in the master bedroom, he was in the guest bedroom across the hallways. He didn’t acknowledge me in any ways for many weeks by then, except in January he came behind me and spooked me and say: “Hey, what is it gonna take for me to get rid of you?”

So, now it was 2/13/2017. Michel was coughing with green mucus and since I was the only person cleaning everything during our entire marriage, I saw it and heard it loud and clear. I was in pain for his pain.

He was in bed. I made him food and cut healthy fruit, made him a vitamin drink, and placed everything on a tray on a little table I put outside guest bedroom and I knocked. Of course, there was no answer.

In a few hours, I saw that some of what I prepared was gone and some denied. I swallowed my pride since I had pre-decided to love Michel with agape, sacrificial love, and I cleaned up. Later, I repeated the service. Again, some of what I prepared was received with silence, some denied with silence.

On 2/14/17 I had to go teach a leadership class at GA State University. As I was preparing content, Michel went to the doctor. It was the first time he left the guest bedroom. I sat on the couch downstairs saying: “Jesus, what do you want me to do?” And Jesus said to me: “Michel is your brother in Christ, go love him as I have loved you”

I went upstairs, changed his bed sheets, did 7 loads of his laundry, vacuumed, mopped, dusted, and made him food.

And I continued every day, till he was back on his feet. And on March 7th was our divorce mediation when he paid me to move out. Next time I saw him was during our divorce jury trial in August.

During my leadership talk on Valentine’s Day at GSU, I shared with the student about the Gospel, how God was working in me through these divorces Michel filed for, how life-changing it was for me to take care of him while he was sick, and how this compassion I was practicing was for me to honor and glorify God and show my love to Michel.

The students didn’t want to go home and that class lasted 1.5 longer than their normal class. They were also asking where was that good God I was praising not saving my marriage and not rescuing me from Michel. But that’s a whole other topic I will cover on this podcast.

Taking care of sick Michel revealed to me how much I myself needed Jesus and how was demanding and disrespectful toward Michel in the beginning of our marriage. So, I wrote this poem that I shared on Facebook and many people took it as Michel was good and I was bad. In reality, this poem is a result of me experiencing agape love and compassion for Michel regardless HIS cruel actions toward me. It was a poem of my realization that only MY actions matter to MY eternity.

If you watched our wedding video, which I can link to again at annaszabo.com/feel you saw that Michel said his goal was to lead me closer to Christ.

Here is the poem. 

Reading “To Michel Szabo” poem

7. Acceptance 

Compassion and acceptance and the opposite of judgement.

If you listened to the Conversations With God episode on this podcast, you know that on Labor Day last year I said mean things to Michel via text message. I was very sad because of it and I regretted my offensive words deeply. So, I signed up to see a Biblical Counselor weekly and learn how to glorify God in the midst of my devastating marriage and divorces.

I also started Love Dare on Michel to learn how to love him. And I took a test on LoveDareTest.com 

You are evaluated on a scale from 0 to 1000 on such aspects of love as Acceptance, Allowing, Attention, Affirmation, Affection, Apology, and Abiding. I scored a total of 308 out of 1000 points and zero points on Acceptance.  

I worked on this one until the end and I am working on it now: accepting Michel’s free will to end our marriage. God gave him free will.

I would love for you to go to LoveDareTest.com and take the test to see how are YOU doing on acceptance? It’s the next level of human experience for me to say: I accept Michel and his pain-causing decisions. Here’s what acceptance looked like for me in July this year as we were getting ready to go to divorce jury trial:

Reading from “Be Truthful” journal page 101 (7/13/17)

8. Sadness 

When I moved out of our marital residence on April 1st this year, living on the river, I was sitting there on the dock, journaling and not wanting to talk to anyone or do anything, and just crying.

My neighbors had paddleboards and kayaks and wanted to take me on the water but I was allowing my sadness. People were trying to persuade me that I needed to smile and move on and be positive… 

Never allow people to tell you how to feel. Your feelings can’t be escaped – they need to be allowed and they need to be worked through.

The best way to process sadness is to cry, journal, and talk it through.

It doesn’t mean that it will go away forever. I’ve processed all  my sadness as I went through the pain of my journey with Michel. And I was at peace. Until earlier this month my friend who was also my bridesmaid sent me a Facebook message.

I will just read to you from my journal what I wrote 2 days later.

Reading from Grey Journal 10/18/2017.

My question to you is this: knowing that even Jesus was sad, do YOU allow yourself to feel sadness, face it, be in it, process it, so you can heal and so you also can feel?

9. Depression 

Disclosure: I am not talking here about a clinical depression which I know nothing about. I have experienced situational depression that was caused by mental cruelty, divorces, loss of self-worth when Michel traded me in for a bicycle. And that’s the only depression I’m talking about

I have never taken any depression medication nor have I been prescribed any. I worked through my depression facing it with prayer, on my knees, crying out to God and casting my anxieties on Him, meditating daily, and journaling to recognize and process my feelings.

That kind of depression is caused by hopelessness after Michel called his bicycle “my other wife I cheat on you with,” refused to even have intimacy with me physically saying he wanted to save himself for his IronMan activities, spent all money in our checking account leaving me with negative balance 3 times unable to buy food, and didn’t even bother to pay mortgage and electricity for months. I was hopeless. 

I can describe it as a big black dog that’s following you everywhere and pulling you into complete darkness. It’s like a dark,  heavy cloud over your head and you can’t see any light at all. It’s like a circle-shaped dark room with no exit door. No windows… 

You feel tired being trapped in the darkness with no hope. You have no energy. You feel only indifference. You become negligent – you don’t eat, don’t take showers, I even had to give my Cocker Spaniel Bruno to friends for a few weeks, unable to take care of him. I was living in the fog. I was so disoriented by Michel’s cruel behaviors and confusing actions. I couldn’t handle even the most basic things like washing dishes. And I experienced suicidal thoughts as you know from the first episode here called “What Does God Say About You”

Are depression and suicidal thoughts unbiblical, sinful, and are they new to God?

In the Bible, Elijah was discouraged, weary, and afraid. After great spiritual victories, this mighty man of God feared and ran for his life. And there in the desert, he sat down and prayed, defeated and worn:  “I have had enough Lord. Take my life.” (1 Kings 19:4).

So, neither depression nor suicidal thoughts are new under the sun.

Depression is when you lie in bed, stare at the ceiling for hours, and you’re pretty much checked out mentally. You’re just indifferent. Nothing matters because there’s no hope. 

The only way I found a path out of depression was to justify my feelings and the story of Elijah was so relatable for me: “As he lay and slept under a broom tree, suddenly an angel touched him, and said to him, ‘Arise and eat.’ … So he ate and drank, and lay down again. The angel of the Lord came back a second time and touched him and said, “Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you.” (1 Kings 19:5-7). 

Wow! Wow! I knew I was so depressed because the journey was so hard, it was too much for me. God’s plan was simple: rest. That’s why meditation, mindfulness, and sleep are so essential when battling depression. And here’s the poem I wrote as the result of my depression:

Reading “I Need Your Love” poem. 

10. Joy 

Joy is a feeling of great pleasure and happiness. I am learning to feel it again. I will say that we all can find reasons to feel joy, even in the middle of hell. I’m only saying it from experience. I felt profound  joy walking down the aisle on 5/14/2017 seeing Michel waiting for me there and crying as he looked me in the eye. And I felt profound joy taking care of him in the midst of his second divorce filing in our 8 months of marriage.

I want to share with you this poem I wrote feeling overwhelming joy from just a simple trip to a sunflower farm on a sunny then rainy day.

Reading “The Sunflower Day” poem from 7/15/17

What I have learned is that my joy comes from my faith and is fueled by my relationship with God. What fuels YOUR joy?

11. Grief, Mourning, And Weeping 

Grief is deep sorrow, especially that caused by someone’s death. When you go through a divorce, you must grieve the death of marriage, dreams, plans, and the overall relationship. You remember we talked in the beginning here about grief, how it works, and how I learned to respect it and give it its time, space, and attention. 

And most often, grief doesn’t ask for permission. Many times, my friends held me in their arms as I wept with the last time being in my new home with Tara, I just wept unstoppably. And then I went to a wedding in VA…..

My two good friends were getting married. I was so happy and excited for them! I arrived in time for the rehearsal and dinner and it was a very pleasant experience. I only felt joy and excitement for them. And I was asked to help with venue decoration next morning, which I of course agreed to do without a second thought. 

I couldn’t wait to be there and decorate the venue!!! Until I arrived and walked in…

The thing is that Michel and I planned and prepared our own wedding. We decorated the venue on Friday before the ceremony and we did everything. I personally with the help of my 2 good friends cut roses, put together center pieces, candles, I had my own arch designed right there from scratch… Everything in my venue I planned, designed, and personally touched.

So, when I walked to the venue to decorate it this July and saw roses and vases and candles….. Grief came without knocking…

I couldn’t breathe, I started weeping, my energy left my legs, I crushed on the floor and wept. I sure had some explanation to do as you can imagine as there were other women there helping. And later on one of them was eager to set me up with a man which I will mention later. 

The bride and groom didn’t witness it but they knew about it and told me it was totally normal, expected, and that they were happy I even came considering my devastating marriage circumstances. 

I later wrote 3 Goodbye Letters I will share with you now. I have closure. Reading from “Be Truthful” journal “Goodbye Letters”  

12. Self-Condemnation 

Self-condemnation is blaming oneself. I have a good recent example from my beautiful friend we call Elena. She gave me permission to share this with you.

She is very young and had never been pulled over before. But this week she accidentally was speeding without noticing it and a police officer was following her to stop her. She didn’t realize it at first and kept driving which didn’t look good from the officer’s perspective of course. 

He basically had to chase her. You can imagine that she surely got a ticket. And then, she went for hours and hours blaming herself for being stupid to even speed unknowingly, to not realize the officer was chasing her, and on and on.

I felt this way, too. Have you? 

The best course of action to escape the vicious cycle of never-ending self-condemnation is to reach out for God’s grace. I told her – it’s ok to feel stupid or be stupid. We all make mistakes. 

Easier said than done of course, because for months I was dwelling on my own self-condemnation for saying mean things to Michel when he hurt me. And then I realized: I’m imperfect, that’s why God sent Jesus to die on the cross for me, there all my faults have been washed white as snow, and I can accept His grace and move on. I forgave myself because God forgave me when I asked Him for forgiveness. I also asked Michel for forgiveness and while he never gave it to me, confessing your sins to one another and repenting is what God asks us to do and I did. 

In the Bible, David wrote in Psalm 38:4 “My guilt has overwhelmed me like a burden too heavy to bear.” Can you relate? 

Have you forgiven YOURself for your mistakes? Have you reached out for God’s amazing grace? Have you released your guilt? Have you accepted the gift of righteousness from Jesus who gave up His precious life to free us from our sins?

This was huge for me also because as Anna Stevens (my name before I took Michel’s last name last year) I was a high achiever who would have never stayed in that house enduring all the abuse Michel exposed me to. Anna Stevens would have never been caring for her sick abuser husband. I felt that after all, Anna Stevens betrayed Anna Szabo.

It took a lot of work on my knees praying, searching my Bible for answers, and experiencing compassion for Anna Szabo who deeply loved her husband whom she was very committed to and didn’t want to give up on him and was persevering in faith.

That allowed for self-understanding and self-acceptance. And I wrote this letter.

Reading “Dear Anna Szabo” letter from “Be Truthful” journal.

As the symbol of my self-compassion, self-acceptance, and self-forgiveness, I printed out a canvas of my last picture of Anna Stevens and my first picture of Anna Szabo. I will post the picture on annaszabo.com/feel so you can see it. Seeing it daily is very healing.

13. Commitment 

Commitment is the state of being dedicated. I can tell you right now, that facing all the nonsense from Michel, I wanted to run for my life. I wanted to hide somewhere on the other plan from him and forget what happened to me. So, a couple of times my sorrow and sadness, anxiety and stress, forced me to stay with my former mentor from Buckhead Church and her husband and 2 young children. 

But doing the Love Dare and learning from Christian books how to love sacrificially with agape love, I was able to develop such a commitment to my marriage that even when in August Michel started asking me to move out, I told him only if we get divorced, I was not willing to out of the blue abandon my marriage just because his priorities switched from marriage to IronMan.

I lived out my commitment to Michel and God as the three of us entered into this marriage last year and I wore my rings until my attorney informed me that we were divorced, which she only did on September 18th but the papers said we were divorced on August 30th.

So many men have been trying to make their moves on me, and I never even thought about a possibility of going out. Remember at the wedding in VA in July a woman was chasing me with her boyfriend offer? That was one persistent woman, I tell you. My answer was a “No, I Love My Husband” every time. I never had such a sense of dedication ever in my life and I cheated on both of my 2 ex-husbands before I gave my life to Jesus. 

This experience of not just feeling but practicing and living out my commitment to Michel was transformational for me as a human being. I am so grateful for it. I grew closer in my relationship with God because of my dedication to Michel as my husband, no matter his actions. And it’s only been healing for me. And remember: only your actions are important as you prepare for your eternity. Others’ actions don’t matter. Everything I learned, practiced, applied in my life, and felt in my heart is expressed in this poem I wrote called “Marriage.”

 Reading “Marriage” poem. 

14. Left Out

To feel left out is to not be included and to be excluded. 

In the marriage with Michel, from the moment we said “I Do” he excluded be from his whole life. I noticed it gradually but even when I did, I tried to persuade myself that this was just that difficult 1st year of marriage everyone goes through and it will all be ok soon.

Except, one afternoon I came home from work, literally I walk into my home kitchen, Michel is talking to his family on video call at a table, not even saying hello or acknowledging me or inviting me to talk to them.

Michel’s family is from Venezuela, which is where he grew up. They came here to Atlanta for our wedding and I never saw them since then. 

Of course, they all speak Spanish. I only speak English and Russian, so as I walked in, he was saying something at which they all started laughing… and that was a very painful experience and a very painful feeling of not mattering, being excluded, not even being invited to say hi to this new family of mine. It was right after we got married. 

It was really hard for me to acknowledge how much I was affected. 

I guess, on this journey I’ve been learning to just acknowledge: I was left out. I am in pain. Because for a while I was trying to forget it to avoid pain. And it never worked.

Do you have a heavy heart from pain remembering being completely left out by your family or a loved one? Have you ever acknowledged the pain? Have you allowed it? Have you faced it? Have you processed it?

And after you face your pain, remember to give grace to your offender.

Grace is next on our list.

15. Grace 

Last year this very day, my girlfriend and I went on a hike with our two dogs and then had a picnic and studied the Grace Walk book  by Steve McVey. At the time, I was in Care Ministry women’s leadership training at Browns Bridge Church in Cumming where Michel and I lived after our wedding. 

I was learning to give Michel the same grace as I received from Jesus. I wrote this poem about grace that God called us to receive and give.

Reading  “Jesus’ Calling And Presence” poem 

I want to share this story with you. Moving into our marital residence after the wedding and being left alone there in the middle of unfinished construction, with boxes and mess everywhere, I felt homeless, overwhelmed by stuff, it was hard to clean so it was messy for a while, and I judged Michel for that.

When I moved out and was settling in my new home, I was so severely depressed, that I had stuff everywhere, it was hard to clean, and it was a mess. I looked around one day and asked: why do you continue feeling homeless in this new home? Why can’t you put it together? And the answer was that for the season of life I was in, this what I was giving myself was, indeed, the best I had. The best I could give.

Realizing that, knowing that this WAS true, I said to myself: what if the mess you got from Michel was HIS bestestest best for the season he’s in in his life? And that allowed me to experience so much empathy, compassion, and grace for Michel… Just what God gives me every day. 

Have you received God’s grace? Do you feel loved, accepted, and forgiven? Do you give the same grace to people in your life?

16. Clarity 

Clarity is the state of being clear-minded. The opposite of clarity is being foggy-minded. The other word to describe that I saw on a text message Michel’s friend sent to him saying “Your wife is brain-scattered” to which Michel replied nothing to defend his wife. 

Yet, brain-scattered of course I was from all mental cruelty I endured. Before I married Michel, I was always very clear and focused. I had clarity regarding my identity, my life, my future, and purpose. 

The more I was mentally manipulated by Michel, the less clarity I had left in me. The more confusion there was, brain-scatteredness, and foggy-mindedness. 

Clarity is such a blessing. Clarity prevent doubt. Clarity entices us to take action. The more you heal from hurts, the more you’ll experience clarity revival. Where do you lack clarity today and what steps can you take to get back into a clear, confusion-free state of mind?

Start with gratitude and praise God for where you are. He will guide you from there to where He wants you to be. Here’s a poem I wrote as I was gaining my clarity back recovering from the mental cruelty endured in this marriage.  

Reading “God, I Praise You” poem

17. Gratitude 

Gratitude is a state of mind hard to achieve when your life is falling apart right before your eyes. It takes two things: first, you must decide to find things to be grateful for every day (even if only one or two things) and secondly, you must make gratitude your daily habit. Going through depression and enduring mental cruelty at home, gratitude was an essential tool I used in my marriage with Michel to just stay alive. My depression was really severe and finding things to be grateful for was difficult initially. But they don’t have to be big things. Start wherever you are and go from there. Here are real-life examples from my gratitude journal.

Reading from Grey journal 7/17/17 ‘I am grateful for“

And as a result, I wrote this gratitude poem I want to share with you.

Reading “My Life Is Such A Gift” poem 

18. Obsession

Obsession is a huge one for me. Obsession is a persistent disturbing preoccupation with an often unreasonable idea or feeling. Remember my friend Elena? Here’s the example she gave me a permission to share with you. She went to a public bathroom and there was nasty mess there. She tried to clean it and what happened to her afterwards is a very good example of obsession.

Elena went about her day thinking about all the bacteria that was now possibly on her close, shoes, purse, things inside the purse, and on her body. We ended up having a long conversation about the situation, which is when I asked her if I could use it as an example.

My own memorable example of obsession is when I saw that Michel stained the white leather chair I bought for our dining room. I was so upset, I couldn’t let it go. It was very unreasonable and I keep the stained chair now as a reminder to myself of how I don’t want to show up in the world. 

Right now, I am in a women’s discipleship group at Perimeter Church and we meet in a beautiful house that one of the women in the D-group owns. Let’s call her Natalie. The first time we had a meeting at Natalie’s house, I sat on a Chaise Lounge Chair and spilled my mind ginger tea on it. Natalie’s reaction was… GRACE. She made me feel so comfortable and said: “Don’t worry, you’re in the right house” And it was so encouraging but also made me think: has my house been the right house to make guests feel comfortable and give people grace?

Recently, a friend came over with a puppy and the dog threw up on my wool rug. It was a huge mess. While I cleaned it, the stain didn’t go away and I keep the rug to remind myself how far I have come since last year in my character development and growth as a follower of Jesus Christ. 

My goal is not to fight my obsession. My goal is to recognize it, acknowledge it, and calm it with mindfulness, remembering who I am and why I am here. I have to remind myself that keeping things stains-free is the least priority in my life. People are more important. 

What about you? Have you ever experienced a persistent disturbing preoccupation with an often unreasonable idea or feeling? How do you go about it? What do you do when you feel obsessed? 

Obsession can also be a result of anxiety, which is next on our list.

19. Anxiety 

Anxiety is an abnormal and overwhelming sense of apprehension (meaning something bad or unpleasant will happen) and it’s often marked by physical signs, such as tension, sweating, and increased pulse rate. Anxiety feels like restlessness and tension to me. I can’t sleep. I can’t focus on anything. I feel severe worry and there seems to be no light at the end of the tunnel. Anxiety is easy to imagine as freaking out quietly on the inside. Anxiety can cause headaches, diarrhea, insomnia, and make you really sick.  

I felt a non-stop anxiety living with Michel. And there were times I couldn’t even breathe from anxiety. Prayer and meditation on scriptures is my best advice.

Philippians 4:6-7 says: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

In the Bible, David was often troubled and battled deep despair and anxiety. In many of the Psalms, he writes of his mental suffering, loneliness, fear of the enemy, his heart-cry over sin, and the guilt he struggled with because of it.

I struggled with the most anxiety in my life preparing for this 4-day divorce jury trial we had a few weeks ago. It felt like crucifixion to me and was truly the most profoundly humiliating experience in my 34 years on earth. But remember that Jesus also had anxiety? He asked God what? Take this cup away…. But not my will, your will be done. 

And that’s what I also said to God. I kept my journal where I asked for reconciliation but I His will and not my will was what I surrendered to. 

What about you? What does anxiety feel like in YOUR body? How to you address your anxiety? You can share with me at annaszabo.com/feel

20. Panic Attacks

A panic attack is the abrupt onset of intense fear or discomfort that reaches a peak within minutes and includes pounding heart, sweating, shaking, or sensations of shortness of breath or suffocation.

A panic attack feels like a lot of anxiety rushing through your body at 10,000 mph, causing tension in your neck, forehead, shoulders, and stomach. For me, it’s always that suffocations mentioned earlier.

And when I had to testify in my own divorce court for days seeing my husband whom I married last year lie over and over, change his testimony, and play just another mental manipulation game, I had a panic attack multiple times a day. 

Panic attacks are paralyzing and debilitating. You can’t speak. And sitting on a witness stand in front of 14 jurors, the judge, attorneys, court reporter, and all the visitors we had every day…. And you are being publicly suffocated in front of them. That’s what happened to me.

The way I dealt with it since you can’t escape or prevent panic attacks, is I relaxed into it. I recognize, acknowledge, and breathe through my every panic attack. And I still have them. 

What about you? Have you ever experienced one? Were you embarrassed? Try relaxing into it next time instead of fighting it. And be ok to experience public humiliation like this – it can happen to anyone.  

21. Stress

I was previously not willing to feel stress. I was a high achiever who never recognized her limits. I just drank a lot of alcohol and had a lot of sex.

It’s unhealthy in every and any way. Dealing with stress productively starts first with recognizing what stress feels like to you. Then, you can manage it. 

So what is stress? It’s a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or very demanding circumstances. For example, narcissistic abuse, mental cruelty, domestic violence, or being overworked in some aspects of life.

To me, stress causes muscle tension, stomach aches, inability to do #2,  rectal bleeding, insomnia, lack of self-awareness, and loss of perspective. What about you? What does stress feel like in your body?

One example is that producing content for this very podcast episode caused me a lot of stress because sharing my feelings is the least thing I ever would want to do. This content has been so painful to share and I have been stressed out by preparing this episode.

I hope it’s of value to you. And if it is, help others find this content by posting your review wherever you’re listening – iTunes, InsightTimer, Stitcher, Google Play, or SoundCloud. 

Knowing stress symptoms, I recognize easily: I am stressed out. And I either pray to God, do squats,  journal, meditate, or go for a walk with my beautiful Cocker Spaniel Bruno. How do you manage stress?

22. Contentment

Contentment is a state of either satisfaction or just mere acceptance. I shared with you that initially in our marriage I deposited my entire pay check into our joint back account and it was gone: $300 on a $6K bicycle repair, $300 a new iPhone for Michel, $74 of fast food, $500 to ship a bicycle to the IronMan competition, and there are IronMan clubs and additional fitness club fees, and IronMan jackets, towels, and who cares to even worry about an unpaid mortgage? 

In September, once I discovered all the unpaid bills and after 3 times I was left with no money unable to buy food, I rerouted my paycheck back to my own account. 

I was not giving careless Michel any money and instead I focused on paying off the debt we took to remodel our marital residence. So, while Michel continued his reckless lifestyle and his new shoes and close were delivered to the house weekly, while he was taking trips and buying whatever he wanted, I was completely content sacrificing what I wanted and needed to focus on honoring God by paying off that debt. 

In Philippians 4:12-13 Paul says “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” 

Contentment is a choice. Paul believed he will be taken care of while in prison and at the time prisoners were only getting support from their family and friends. I was content believing that God will take care of my every need. It might not look like what I want or think I need, but I trust that His plan is bigger and better than my plan. This allows for clarity.

Discontent leads to loss of clarity and causes dissatisfaction, bitterness, and resentment. In which area of your life do you recognize discontent?

How can you make a decision to feel content by trusting God’s plan?

23. Humiliation

Being humiliated is unavoidable in life.  There will be unpredictable humiliation experiences like public panic attacks for example. And there will be very predictable humiliation experiences like when your husband of 4 months files for a divorce twice and you have to go tell the world what happened during your wedding night.

Preparing to  testify about our wedding night in front of jurors and the judge, I had many panic attacks in advance. And it was not anything I could have avoided, so I focused on Jesus.

Jesus was rejected by his own people in favour of Barabbas, a criminal. He was then spat upon, beaten and mocked by the Roman soldiers. Enduring the ultimate form of humiliation, Christ was crucified while being mocked.

Thinking about that, I was able to accept the humiliation I had already endured in the marriage with Michel and all the humiliation I would go through during the jury trial in August this year.

Knowing that Jesus understands my humiliation, can relate to it, and He himself experienced it to set me free and give me a life of peace, I was comforted.

What happened during our wedding night was terrible. Michel and I had our first intercource and he just went for it without taking any time for any preparation. I was bleeding, I had to go to the doctor, was put on antibiotics, and for 10 days I had to wear an adult diaper to work.

What about your humiliation? Have you ever acknowledged it? Have you accepted it? Have you received comfort from Jesus Christ?

24. Passion And Enthusiasm

Passion and enthusiasm are very good feelings. Remember how much enthusiasm Jesus felt and showed when eating with His disciples? We talked about it earlier.

I am a very passionate person. But I do recognize that before I married Michel, I did not actually know how to love. I thought I did but I sure didn’t. Remember the LoveDareTest? By the way, if you want to share your love test score, tell me what it is on annaszabo.com/feel

Anyway, learning how to love Michel I felt so much genuine passion for him as a human in my life that God gave me to love unconditionally.

And even though I suffered extensively for my passion, I would do it all over again. Learning to love Michel was so worth it to me. 

Remember how Jesus verbalized His passion and enthusiasm during that meal with His disciples? I did that too during our trail. I shared how much I loved Michel with all my heart. It was humiliating and liberating all at the same time. When we keep eternal perspective on life and our walk with God, humiliation is almost irrelevant because people’s judgements don’t matter to our eternity. But liberation from our own ego, anger, self-judgment, and fear does matter to our eternity. And for me to say publicly looking at him in trial that I genuinely love him… it was truly the next level of human experience for me….

What about you? Do you verbalize and express your passion and enthusiasm for people you love?  

Preventing our liberation is fear, which is next of our list. 

25. Fear 

Fear is is often what drives anxiety or even depression. It is an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain.

Often, we can also obsess about our irrational fears. It doesn’t mean all our fears are irrational, but some of them are for sure. 

I was devastated with fear living with Michel who was acting crazy and unpredictable at all times. And after he told many people at Highlands Church in Cumming as well as the pastor who officiated our wedding that his plan was to divorce me so he could date me again, I have some serious fears. I promise you. I went to local police department right after I moved to my new home to tell about about Michel’s threats and make a plan. I installed video cameras to watch over my every window. 

And once you take actions to mitigate the threats and risks, the only antidote for fear I know is courage and empowerment. 2 Timothy 1:7 says “For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power…”

Please listen to the last week’s podcast episode on the topic of empowerment and courage called “Empowering Women.”

Courage is next on our list. 

26. Courage 

Courage is the ability to do something that frightens one. I had fear of flying and so I did skydiving. I will link to a full video of the entire experience at annaszabo.com/feel I also had a fear of fire, so I will share with you a video of me swallowing fire. I had a fear on Michel and so I stayed to love him and to be committed to him despite my fear.  

Interestingly, Michel’s attorney presented to the divorce jury and the judge my posts on social media where I expressed my love for Michel after he abused and threatened me on 12/5/2015 and I had to move out for 2 weeks to stay with a friend to even put my head back together.

His attorney’s thesis was that if I were ever afraid of Michel, I wouldn’t say a nice thing about him…

I’m gonna let you decide for yourself what to think. I don’t know what to say in response to such nonsense. 

I love Michel even now. Of course I am scared of him. And at the same time I say nice things about him. But I also speak truth in love about his abuse, rage, and anger toward me. Anger is next on our list here.

27. Anger 

Anger experts describe the emotion as a primary, natural emotion which has evolved as a way of surviving and protecting yourself from what is considered a wrong-doing. That’s the kind of anger we discussed Jesus expressed against injustice.

The kind of anger I endured from Michel I will share in detail next week in the next podcast episode. Let’s talk about me and you feeling anger.

I know when I’m getting angry when I raise my voice, become defensive, want to scream, and feel self-righteous. What about you? What does anger feel like to you and what does it look like on the outside?

As a vacillator, I had anger as my primary emotion for years. But after sending middle-finger texts to Michel as my husband accompanied by really mean words, I started seriously thinking where that anger is coming from and is this really how I want to show up in the world as God’s child? No. It’s not. Not at all. So, in preparation for our trial, I was asking God to rid me of any anger, fill my heart with compassion and grace toward Michel, enable me to be humble and kind every day on the witness stand, and even when I am humiliated and lied against, to remain anger-free, humble, and kind.

And God gave me that. I’m so grateful. Remember: the actions of others don’t impact YOUR relationship with God or your eternity. Your actions do. You have a choice every time someone angers you to either walk in the Spirit or walk in the Flesh. If you don’t know what I just said, ask me at annaszabo.com/feel and I’ll explain in detail. 

James 1:19-20 teaches us “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.”

How do you manage your anger? If your desire is to honor and glorify God, reflect on how you express your anger and ask yourself: is my behavior giving God the glory He deserves? 

28. Defensiveness

Defensiveness is the best way to get yourself into deep anger. I had to defend myself since 5 years old, even from my family members. When as a teen I was raped, my mom said “Good for you, you are now more sexually experienced than your peers” so I had to go and find a way to defend myself, which I did. But growing up having to always defend yourself, you become a very defensive adult.

That’s what I am working on now. Whoever thinks whatever about me, they are free to think that. I don’t need to defend myself. If someone offended me, like Michel for example, after watching him lie for 3 days, I was able to say to myself: “There’s no need to continue defending your rights because he says lies and changes his testimony every hour and you try to combat that with what’s true. Just let it go.” And that gave me peace. 

Do you often feel defensive because you want to establish justice?

Psalm 43 says 

“Establish justice for me, God!
Argue my case against ungodly people!
Rescue me from the dishonest and unjust!
Because you are my God, my protective fortress!”

And that became my prayer. How about you? Do you believe that God will establish justice in all your cases? Or do you believe defensiveness will? 

The opposite of anger and defensiveness are humbleness and kindness. 

Coming next!

29. Humbleness And Kindness

“Humble and Kind” is my favorite country song. It says 

Hold the door, say please, say thank you
Don’t steal, don’t cheat, don’t lie
I know you got mountains to climb but
Always stay humble and kind

This has been my alarm clock ringtone since I married Michel. I had to pry that through all this pain, God will allow me remain humble and kind and not bitter, resentful, cynical, or angry. Here’s the prayer poem I wrote to God to reflect my desire for more humbleness and kindness in tough times. 

Reading “Lord, I Need You” poem prayer

30. Peace

Colossians 3:15 says “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.”

I had very little peace going through moving in, being abandoned, two divorces, moving out – all in a few month of life. 

And here’s a story for you. I told you how in that marital residence I felt homeless in the midst of unfinished construction. Well, I moved here, where I live now, and my toilet had leakage, so my floors had to be pulled and replaced. And I had a ceiling falling on my head and master bathroom bathtub paint popped so my dog Bruno and I were moved to a hotel. I was given a budget but could choose any hotel I wanted. 

I read reviews, chose a place, Bruno and I walk in….. You would not believe it: there is a major construction, walls, floors, everything is being replaced, dust everywhere… 

And you know what? It made me realize that God might not be changing my unfinished construction circumstances that follow me wherever I go accompanied with the feeling of homelessness, because God might want ME to change IN the circumstances. 

And that’s when I made the decision to reach out for God and tap into His peace no matter what’s happening outside of me. And I did that.

Here’s what I wrote on May 26th this year as I was settling in my new home and going through this second divorce preparing for trial.

Peace comes from within us. Even when the world around us is falling apart, we can still find peace. God called us to live a life of peace while He said we WILL have troubles in this world.

On this journey of seeking peace, I’m learning that peace is like a Christmas gift under the tree with my name on it: I can reach and grab it and have it, it will be mine because it already is waiting TO be mine, OR I can never reach for it, never take the gift, and it won’t be mine.

It’s up to me. Peace is available to me, any time, anywhere, my name is written on the gift. All I need is to recognize it and reach out for the gift.

So is your peace available to you any moment. 

Just reach for it and enjoy it.

Peace comes from within us. Even when the world around us is falling apart, we can still find peace. God called us to…

Posted by Anna Szabo on Friday, May 26, 2017

And so as a result of this learning experience, I wrote this poem to God. 

Reading “Your Peace Rules Now In My Heart” poem (“Gods Peace”)

31. Vulnerability

According to author Brené Brown, Ph.D, LMSW, in her latest book “Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent and Lead”, vulnerability is the core, the heart, the center, of meaningful human experiences.


She defines vulnerability as “uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure.” Think about the vulnerability it takes to love someone, to be honest, to cry. In my women’s small group at church, I cry every time we meet. I don’t fight it. I’m not afraid to be real.

Think about all the vulnerability it takes for me to open up to you here about all the issues in my life with the hope that YOU will hear the Gospel applied to my troubles and be comforted in your own troubles. 

For me, vulnerability is scary. I am anxious and scared right now being so vulnerable with you but when others are vulnerable with me, their message of God’s goodness and sovereignty seen by them in their messy lives helps me be comforted and facilitates my healing. 

That’s why in return I am giving my vulnerability to you to help you heal.

Are you real, honest, and open with people in your life who need your vulnerability and could be encouraged or comforted by it?

32. Purpose 

Purpose is the reason for which something is done or created or for which something exists or happening.

Romans 8:28 says “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good.”

In my marriage and divorce, I saw nothing good for sure. I questioned the purpose of the marriage and also my life. 

And it was until my friend Tiffany sent me a text message to read the book of Esther as she said it was about me. I didn’t read it. And then, independently from Tiffany, my Biblical Counselor gave me that whole book as homework. And I studied it. And I felt such sense of purpose. Like I was equipped and qualified to be this man’s wife, to suffer in this marriage, for some good reason only God knows.

And here’s the poem I wrote about it.

Reading “My Husband For A Reason” poem.

What about you? Do you feel driven by a strong sense of purpose? Do you believe that adversity in your life has a greater purpose, which is good?

Do you trust God? Trust is next on our list. 

33. Trust 

To trust is to believe in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of something or someone. I doubt God in times of struggle but deep in my heart I know that I trust that the Bible is God-breathed word and I trust every little bit of it.

By the way, have you ever watched a movie called “The Case For Christ?” It’s a real story of real living people and it’s so powerful. 

You know, my life has been really touch and I am anxious and scared that even more adversity is coming but I relax into those feelings knowing that God is good and His plan is perfect.

Here’s a poem I wrote about it. 

Reading  “Your Plan Is Always Perfect” poem 

34. Empowerment 

Empowerment is something I am stepping into again as I’m recovering from what happened to me after I said “I Do” to Michel. I dedicated a whole entire podcast episode to this important topic. Please make sure to listen to the “Empowering Women” show from last week.

But I will share this poem I wrote about empowerment. 

Reading Empowering Women poem. 

35. Surrender

What does surrender mean?  It means to cease resistance to an enemy or opponent and submit to their authority

Now, God is not our enemy, even though I admit that at times we can feel as if He were our enemy.

But God is sure our opponent as we must choose daily to either walk in the Spirit obeying God’s commands or to give into our Flesh.

I argued with God about those divorces because they were so painful, unnecessary, from my earthly perspective, and they felt surreal to me.

I also fought God on this podcast episode. Sharing all this with you, from my perspective, was unnecessary, but God won and it sure feels surreal to me that I told you everything that I told you here and that I am about to click the PUBLISH button.. When you hear this episode, you know that after all I surrendered.   

Here’s a poem I wrote to God as I’ve learned to give up fighting about the divorces. Reading “I’m Surrendered To Thee” poem

Wow! That was a lot to share with you… It’s been the most humbling experience and the most vulnerable content I have ever put out there. 

My hope is that you found this relevant, helpful, empowering, and healing. Before we say goodbye, I want to remind you that you can help others find this podcast by posting your review wherever you’re listening to it: on iTunes, InsightTimer, Stitcher, Google Play, or SoundCloud. 

Please post your review. 

As you know, every week after I publish a new podcast episode, I also release a new meditation. This week, I will share with you my poetry instead. I will release a few poems at a time. They will be about 1-3 minutes each, reflecting different feelings and emotions and you you can save and enjoy the ones that are the most helpful to you. 

And here’s a poem I wrote just for you to help YOU take a healing action after you listened to this episode of The Anna Szabo Show.

This new poem is called “Feeling The Feelings” and I wrote it a month ago on 9/24/2017 when  I just started preparing this podcast episode to help you discover and feel your feelings. This poem ends with a promise. That promise doesn’t mean that you will be pain-free in life.

It does  mean that you’ll gain understanding of your pain, which will empower you to take healing action. Are you ready? Here it is for you:

***
Do you know how to feel feelings?
I mean the whole range of them, all of them?
Like fear, faith, joy, surprise from others’ dealings?
Like anger, peace, responsibility, or defensiveness when people you condemn?

Do you know how to feel sadness and to grieve appropriately?
Like sitting down with your sad thoughts and cry?
Like writing heartfelt entries in your journal openly,
Without pretending and without saying a lie?

But just really pouring your heart out,
Just putting all your emotions in the universe,
Just being open and vulnerable without a doubt,
Just being yourself, who you are, without intentional rehearse?

I’ve learned slowly how to feel my emotions.
In the past, my primary feelings were anger and rage.
I’ve been intentional about using the experience to write devotions
To help you with your own emotions to engage.

Please take the time to be still and feel uncomfortable.
Please make it your priority to focus your mind
On the important intention of being vulnerable,
So you can that place of healing within yourself find.

There’s actually nothing much more to it –
Just sit, be quiet, be still, and feel.
When you’re feeling, though, make sure you do admit
And label each emotion, without pretending. Be real.


If you feel joy, say “I feel joy now.”
If you feel sadness, say “I’m very sad.”
If you’re crushed, then the experience of pain allow
By saying “I’m in pain” and on that in your journal reflect.

You will feel odd and weird at first. It’s normal.
But so what?! It’s a skill, like learning to drive a car.
Keep going, keep feeling, this process is very informal.
And I promise: with time it will help you heal your every scar.

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