In Times of Anxiety

My mind reels and spins. What do I need to get done today? Why is my son having these breakdowns? Is the money ok? How much energy do I have? Is it enough? There is a tightness in my chest and my pulse is rising.

Wait. I don’t want to live this way. Where is the peace and the joy? I think I had it last week, but suddenly it’s gone, and I haven’t found it for days. It’s just my mind – churning, seeking, striving, pushing – looking for answers to the questions in my life.

Is my life good? Yes. Do I know I have a lot to be thankful for? Yes.

But I want to work to make it better. I love my son, so I want to help him with his crying fits. I love my family, and I want them to have good food today, and clean clothes to wear and a lovely family time at the dinner hour. I love my husband, and if I can save money, there’s less pressure on him.  Plus, if I have energy today, I should prioritize and get a lot done, because I may be sick in bed tomorrow.

So I push and plan and strive and there’s part of me that looks back at the end of the day and says, “Good. You did all you could. You worked hard.”

But is it good? Is it good when I’m tense and intense and there’s no joy and my mind can’t stop? What part of me is saying that’s good?

It’s the part of me that believes, deep down, that’s it’s my job to solve all my problems. I have to figure out how to help my son. I have to make sure there’s enough money. I’m in control of my health strategy. I’m the only mom my kids will have today. And if I keep thinking about it, I will find the best solutions. I am an intelligent, capable woman and I can do this. Right?

I look back on my life. Why does part of me believe I can solve all my problems? That if I push and think and research and get input I will get there and then I’ll feel better about it?

Maybe it’s because my first job was school. Finite amount of material. Good brain. Study, work hard, and succeed. Everything is ok.

Maybe it’s because my first problems were small. Think about it a little, pray a little, ask parents what they think. Do the right thing. Everything is ok.

But somewhere my problems got bigger. The stakes got higher. I have a marriage to protect. Little souls to nurture. A business to support. People all around me in pain and God’s call to help them. Unstable health. Family pressure. A shifting economy. Unbelievable politics.

Breathe in, breathe out.

And then I find this verse. “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow,” Romans 15:13.

Really? God will fill me with joy and peace if I trust in him? Today that feels like a fairy tale – an unrealistic daydream.

Trust. Stop. Reframe.

What am I trusting in?

God. The God of the universe. The greatest force for good. The source of love. The never-ending well of wisdom. My family’s protector. Caretaker. Defender.

Can I trust him?

My mind says yes but something in my heart tightens – holding on to something…

I do trust God and I know he’s for me, and he’d be much better at figuring out my life and my world than me. But doesn’t he expect me to “do my best” too? And isn’t part of trying my hardest giving my mind and my heart to finding solutions? Won’t it work out even better if I’m working AND God’s working?

I can’t just let go and not do my part.

And then Jesus comes in. “My yoke is easy and my burden is light.” “Cast all your cares on him, for he cares for you.” “Do not worry about tomorrow…all these things will be added to you.”

Really? He’s just going to take it? No matter what it is?

But wait. I’ve always been told I have to do my part. What’s my part? I know I can’t just go to bed and lay down and forget all of this and expect instant, magic solutions.

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him.” My part is trust.

“Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.” My part is staying in step with the Spirit.

“Don’t worry about anything. Instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for what he has done.” My part is prayer and thanksgiving.

So I believe God, talk to him, thank him, and walk in the Spirit? And I can stop worrying?

I know it won’t be that easy, but something in my heart is loosening. I can let go. I don’t have to figure it out. Any of it! God will figure it out, and show me as I walk with him.

Do I really believe that – deep down in my guts? Not yet. I’m still worried.

How am I going to get better at it?

Wait. I don’t have to figure that out. He will show me.