“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” – Matthew 6: 25-27
How I needed that reminder this Sunday. I can feel my chest become less constricted, my shoulders relax and that lump in my throat turn into a speed bump.
Last week was filled with trials, the types we’re all subject to, and it felt like the world was crumbling around me. It built up Thursday, ebbed Friday morning before going full-on fortissimo Friday afternoon. I felt like I was on the witness stand and there wouldn’t be a jury of my peers, instead it was one-person who would determine my future with my company. How will I provide? How will I tell people? Who will help my clients? How disappointed will others be of me? I’m a failure. The world isn’t actually crumbling, what is crumbling is my perception that I have control. The reality is there’s very little I control outside of how I go about my day, the rest I have to turn over to the care of God. Holly reminded me about God’s promises, that I was giving power to others and making myself out to be a victim. By Friday night, there was peace again.
Then Saturday came, and all the usual weekend obligations took place plus a birthday party for a friend of the girls. I packed my bag so I could use those 2 hours for studying as this semester heads into the final class. Because it was a swimming party, it was expected that parents stay there. So I stayed, putting the anxiety temporarily on the shelf and had a great time talking to the other parents and families of the other kids. During that party I learned that my mom was taken to the emergency room by my sister who (not coincidentally) was there. Once the girls were down Saturday night I picked up the books, pages of notes and trusty computer and plowed ahead. My eyes started burning and the screen got blurry but I persisted to the completion of another project. I was a bit woozy as the clock moved me into Sunday, and as I stood up feeling triumphant I stumbled into a toy. Startled I jumped over it and landed awkwardly on one foot. I looked down as my toes curled under and I heard the unfamiliar sound. The pain was immediate.
I limped to bed and into church Sunday where Pastor Stephen gave a message about worry, how we give too much weight to the things of this world and make false idols. Between the work turmoil, school anxiety, health concerns and my toe it was like God was telling me to slow down because He had a message for me. The message of course was as timely as it was impactful. It changed everything and I’m clinging to it today. It’s not to say the anxiety is gone, but I can turn that over to God because I know He’s got me, my family, career, school and future. He has plans for me, not to harm me, but for us to prosper. My role is to trust and to have faith in the God who created me.
“Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings. And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.” – 1 Peter 5: 6-10
The truth is all of the above, it’s also true that because of the power I’ve assigned myself and the world around me I struggle at times. The peace of turning myself over to Christs loving care is almost immediate. When I’m in a ‘right’ place, I can have faith that isn’t rattled but can find peace because His rod and His staff comfort me.
When I wasn’t in a ‘right’ place, when I was active in addiction, I turned away from God’s lasting peace and to the things of this world that provided momentary relief. I looked to, and made false idols of things around me, putting them on an altar and giving them prominence.
“You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews.” – John 4: 22
I turned for comfort in the moment that was never meant to sustain me, and reminds me of the Samaritan woman at the well and her interaction with Jesus.
“Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” – John 4: 13-14
My thirst was unquenchable because I turned to Earthly things to comfort me, I sought a break, not a cure. Now I’m in a place where I can see that, and today I work to dig up the roots rather than cutting off the top of the weed. It’s a lot harder to get ‘deep in the weeds’, but I’d rather go through that trial than to give in. Whatever level of anxiety I have I’d much rather endure that, because while it’s not easy to go through, it is temporary and I can find the peace we’re all promised, freely given and lasts.
Grace and peace be yours in abundance.