Joannie’s hand shakes as she pushes the needle through the material and focuses on the project in her hand. That’s what Mrs. Bannister, her counselor, told her to do, and Joannie was good at following instructions. Joannie always followed other people’s instructions. Not that she didn’t have ideas of her own, but for some reason, they weren’t as important to her as other people’s were.
“It’s good to have a hobby,” Mrs. Bannister said at their last session. “Something you enjoy doing. Something to help the worrying.” So Joannie went out and bought the material, and the embroidery thread, all kinds of colours and took them home, and laid them on the dining room table. Her mission, to redirect the anxiety in the pit of her stomach by creating a beautiful cross stitch scene. At least, that was the plan.
So she sat by the window, and pushed dark blue thread through resistant material. Every now and then the needle hit the fabric sidewayS and pushed into her skin. Joannie didn’t seem to notice as her finger bled one drop at a time. She just watched it land on the cloth. Watched it seep into the fibers and expand into a small pool of brownish red. All she could feel was the anxiety still in the pit of her stomach.
She would tell Mrs. Bannister that this was not a good assignment. They would have to come up with something else. Or she could go back to the pills. They always worked in the past. In fact, they may still work now.
Joannie put the needlework down and moved to the cabinet in the bathroom. The bottle sat on the shelf, with the little white pills. She took the container and popped the top, letting one of them drop into her hand. Her fingers were damp with anxiety as she drew it closer to her mouth. She knows after a few minutes, the anxiety would stop, and a feeling of calm would replace it.
“Lord,” she called out, surprising even herself. “Please help me. I don’t want to go back there.” And just as the pill came to her lips, Joannie felt a sting in her finger where the needle had pierced her skin. She dropped the pill in reaction and watched it roll in circles before is made its way down the sink.
Joannie sat in Mrs. Bannister’s office the next afternoon.
“Well,” Mrs. Bannister crossed her legs and focused her eyes on the young woman in front of her. “How did the needlework assignment go?”
“Well,” Joannie said, with a smile on her face. “Really really good. Especially after I stung myself with the needle.”
“How so,” Mrs. Bannister watched the young woman’s face.
“Well, I kinda decided the sewing wasn’t working, and that maybe the pills were the best answer.” she started to answer.
“Well,” she said, apologetically, “I was still feeling the anxiety. So I went to the bathroom cabinet and pulled down a bottle of my old anxiety meds.
Mrs. Bannister was feeling anxious now for her client, but stayed in her chair and let her continue.
”I got a pill in my hand, and just before I started to take it, I called out to God, just maybe He might be able to intervene here, but I really didn’t expect Him to. I sort of surprised myself.”
“And?” by now Mrs. Bannister’s curiosity was making it difficult for her to sit still and listen.
“And He answered.” Joannie said, matter of factly. “All of a sudden, I felt the sting in my finger, felt it really hard.”
“And how was that an answer?”
“Well, it kind of woke me up. Made me realize that if I can stop physical pain with a bandaid, I can stop my emotional pain with a different kind of bandaid. The bandaid God gave me in His Son Jesus Christ.”
“And you got this from a sewing assignment?” Mrs. Bannister was smiling, a little surprised at the series of events and Joannie’s thought process.
“Yah.” Joannie said, a smile on her face, and pride in her voice at her own idea.
“Now instead of focusing on a needle and thread, I’ll focus on a scripture verse. I can redirect my thoughts to Him,” she said. “I can start with Isaiah 41:10 (NIV)”.
“And the bonus,” she added with a little laugh. “It’s far less painful.”
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