It is hard for me to open up about this. But God’s word tells me “they defeated him (Satan) through the blood of the Lamb and the bold word of their witness” (Revelation 12). Wild that Christ’s sacrifice and a believer’s bold witness can work together to bring light into the darkest places.
Speaking of dark places… anxiety/fear has been and still is a ribbon throughout my life. I don’t have many memories without it. We could sit and talk for hours about what that means and how that is and why it came to be and how I should treat it. But I have always sensed God calling me deeper into Him through anxiety. It’s almost been like a pull into Him, instead of picking apart the why and the how (although I’ve done more than my fair share of analyzing the why and the how and have actually gotten some legit clarity on the why and the how, for which I am thankful). The book of Job stands out to me in this respect… Job and his friends TALK for 34 CHAPTERS about what they think is going on with Job’s life. 34 CHAPTERS. They analyze God. They analyze themselves. They analyze God some more. They analyze Job’s life. They analyze Job’s circumstances. And it actually gets them nowhere. Praise God for His response starting in chapter 38… read it!!! Too good.
As humans, we have such a strong desire to be independent. To understand all the things. And then to fix what’s broken. We don’t like the idea of being needy, troubled, weighed down. But just a thought – maybe that weight you’re carrying is to bring you to Him to lay it down? An avenue for introduction and continued intimacy? All through God’s word He makes it very clear that we are very weak, needy, creatures made strong in the arms of a good God.
I picture my life of faith a lot like this:
Jesus walks up and introduces himself to me as a little girl. He explains that my parents were chosen by Him, and they have gifts and flaws, and a key gift from them would be a love for the Word and for Him. But that anything He allowed in my life passed through a filter of LOVE and desired relationship with me. I learn to trust Him a little more and eventually we go for a walk, find a sweet spot by a gorgeous lake and sit down. By now I am actually crying sweet tears of rest and peace and calm. Still a little girl though. As I grow up I get this habit of independence. I leave our peaceful setting and I go do my thing! And what do ya know, I get all bumped and bruised up and come back and find Him and He comforts me. Repeat 1,000,000 times. Not exaggerating. I am never not His, I am just not always available. When life is smooth, I rarely go find Him at the lake spot. When life is rough, I sit with Him often and He teaches me, comforts me, makes me smile, laugh, reminds me I can really do all things with Him. This pattern continues for years, and unbeknownst to me still lacking a lot of intimacy with Him. It’s a pretty one sided relationship: I show up empty, He graciously fills me up. Then I go do my thing. These are the years I believe where I learned to trust Him, bit by bit. Then something happens. Life takes too many turns (see list at very bottom of the too many turns). Almost takes me out of the game. I am reeling. No one seems to understand. Can’t find my equilibrium. I go, find him at our lake spot. He calms me down. He goes over His love for me LINE BY LINE. Spells it out, clear as day, over and over and over again. How much He delights in me, and I realize how much more I want to know Him. We spend more time together. It’s glorious. My heart is being made new, I can actually feel it! Then He tells me it’s time to get back in the game but I’m hesitant. Being with Him at our lake spot is a lot safer than going back into the world that sent me reeling. I look at Him nervously and answer that I’ll go but beg Him to just come with me… to which He replies, with a warm smile: I thought you’d never ask…
So often we think the answer for what ails us is an equation of flesh management. I do believe in doing our part, but not while neglecting our Spirits. How can I neglect my Savior and my Spirit – yet expect peace? It doesn’t work like that. I believe all of our inner lives would be vastly improved by gazing at Him, instead of our world and ourselves.
Last week, we were at an event and the bracelet Walt got me for the birth of Emerson (that I am obsessed with) came off. I wear it literally every single day. I did not realize it until the next morning and immediately felt nauseous. I looked for HOURS – under every single thing in this house, I called friends, I went back to the event spot, looked for another hour. No luck. As I was driving back home discouraged, I felt a little nudge… what if God’s people searched for Him the way I just searched for that gold bracelet? I changed my plans that day, I inconvenienced myself, I even skipped my shower (TMI). What if God didn’t just get our convenience and leftovers?
Last story I will share… a few years ago, post Fenley but pre Wills and Emerson, Walt and I were flying home from NYC. To say that I am a white knuckle flyer is a gross understatement. Anyone that has flown with me can attest to this fact! We got on the plane, buckled up, ready to take off, and suddenly the plane goes into Park. WHAT. No no no no no. Mr. Pilot sir, I am going to need you to take off. Panic pulsing through my veins. Then, the lovely New Yorker sitting next to us tells me that the last time this happened, they sat on the tarmac for 3 hours. WTHeck. NOPE. Ain’t doing it. I grab my purse, containing my Xanax bottle, go to the bathroom to take my “peace pill”. I had just finished the book “Heaven is for real” and the story about the Russian girl who had a vision of Jesus, who then painted it, and that was the Jesus that the boy from the book said was Jesus. Anyway. The book moved me, okay??? 🙂 And that portrait of Jesus was the background of my phone. I am getting the pill out of the bottle, look at my phone, and I feel the Holy Spirit whisper to my heart… “because I did what I did, you can do this.” WOW. Perfect peace replaced panic pulsing. Only God can do that. I said “Okay, God… I can do this, but would you please help this plane leave SOON!!!” I put the pills away, went back to my seat and actually felt calm, even engaged the New Yorker in conversation. Do you wanna know how soon after that prayer we were in the air? FIFTEEN MINUTES. Just the beginning of marvelous for me…and this little story helped prepare my heart for the bigger challenges that were just around the corner.
All of this to say… I am not hating on professional help and medication. I am not saying they are not good, useful tools that help many people. I am simply sharing my own story and highly recommending some quality lake time with the Lover of your soul, it would do your mind, body, soul and spirit good… this I KNOW.
Also some scripture He has highlighted in my life in the last year… Deuteronomy 6:5, Romans 12, all of Job, Romans 8, 1 Peter 5:10, Ephesians 4, Luke 10:17-20 to name a few 🙂
My list of too much that sent me reeling…
Married 3 months, unexpected first positive pregnancy test (Fenley Grace), could not get words of affirmation to save my life, very discouraged, financial struggle, lots of drama, a second unexpected positive pregnancy test (Wills), 25 weeks pregnant diagnosis of Trisomy 18, more financial pressure, death and burial of our son, more drama, self employment tax miscalculation that kicked our butts, third but not unexpected, rather very excited positive pregnancy test (Emerson), on my birthday at 8.5 weeks pregnant we were told she had no brain or skull and would definitely die (horribly low point), lived 2.5 weeks thinking I would go into another c section expecting death while I am wide awake but completely helpless, 12 weeks pregnant we were told she was perfect (thank you God), nursed her for 14 months (mama be cray cray), mama had oral surgery, one of my grandmothers died, switched schools for Fen (really hard decision), Emerson age 2 diagnosed with speech delay, shortly after told she has a syndrome of some sort causing speech delay and height being off the charts but then in same meeting 30 minutes later told she actually would be fine but of course at that point the damage was done (don’t even get me freaking started) all on the 4 year anniversary of Wills’ death (fall 2017), Fenley had strep 6 times, I had strep and flu (diagnosed by me) and still had to give 100% at home as Walt is self employed and busy busy busy, both girls got strep and flu which then led to Fenley’s tonsillectomy, basically had a 2 hour long panic attack when she wouldn’t wake up from anesthesia, she recovered by Christmas Eve, Walt had surgery/procedure done a day or two before New Years, and I would not give myself any space without guilt, I felt I had to be “on” all the time. One particularly anxious day I looked back at my calendar and realized I had had 10 coffee/lunch dates in 12 days… God whispered: “you’re trying to serve everyone filet, while you’re living on crumbs.” By spring 2018 I was waking up at 4am sick to my stomach every day which led me upstairs to my bonus room by myself with Him and His word which led me to where I am which I wouldn’t trade for a billion dollars. Still struggle but that’s not the point – the point is I am HIS and I am LOVED and I am being made new day by day. And to circle back to Job…God answered Job “from the whirlwind”… sometimes I wonder if the whirlwind is just God trying to get our often very fickle attention 🙂