I’m here on one of those days. I have a nervous energy deep in my gut and feel unsettled. I felt it poking at me the last couple of nights and then felt like I was awake almost all of last night, with every little thing startling me and a bundle of anxiety. That starts the spiral worry. You know the one that says, “what if I can’t get to sleep tonight and then my day is filled with anxiety tomorrow and then what if this snowballs and I can’t sleep tomorrow night, or the next?” It tries to frighten me that I might fall into the pit again; the one filled with anxiety and uncertainty and overwhelmingly reminds me that I’m not in ultimate control of my circumstances and emotions. Sure, I know I have the choice to focus on slowing down my breathing, etc., but if a wave of fear or uneasiness is going to hit, it will do so. However, I know I can do many things to keep it from being so loud and scary, but I don’t always do those things like I should because I get caught up in my life and striving for the next good thing.
I think that’s what’s going on right now. I’ve got a mix of everyday stresses, extra financial stresses, hormones, the “anniversary” of when anxiety took hold of me 12 years ago, poor eating, etc. Maybe my little brain is telling me it’s feeling overloaded and scared. That’s ok, little brain. I’m not mad at you (although I’ve been known to say an ugly thing about you from time to time, wishing I could switch brains with someone else or just buy a new one). Hating my circumstances doesn’t help the matter. There’s a big difference between the frightened Emily of a decade ago and where I am now. I’m still feeling all of those worries, fears, disappointment, and sadness, but I know some of the nicer things to remind myself of, like, “it’s just nervous energy and I don’t have to give it control” or asking God how I might grow during this time rather than fighting against it. What I think God reminded me of this morning is the phrase, “Keep going”. He told me that years ago when I felt like I couldn’t take another step because life was so scary to me. I did keep going then because I had no other choice and slowly, at a snail’s pace, I found some wiggle room and could breath. I’ve not yet gotten to a point where I feel free or Easy Breezy Beautiful Covergirl, but I’m hoping God has more of that for me, snail’s pace or not. I hope He helps me to draw near to Him and that I fall in love with Him in the process. What I have learned over the years is that if I sit down “in it” and give these feelings credit, it will only feed it and delay movement back to healthier days. It’s a huge challenge not to engage, but I’m praying God will help me today and every day to lean in to Him and keep going.
Heartache is everywhere. Sometimes it seems like it’s lurking around the corner and one never knows when it’s going to hit. 2014 was a pretty good year for me and one I can look back on fondly for the most part (health, my brain not a complete mess, great school year for my son, work growth for my husband, new baby girl!). However, I can name several families who were hit by heartache and will feel the effects for a long time to come. Terrible tragic deaths have happened within my community and beyond. Just even hearing about them makes your stomach sink and stirs your heart with sympathy…or anger and frustration. Do you ever feel that way? Angry that something terrible happens and that someone is hurting like they are? Just in the past year I can think of families broken by suicide, murders, sickness, and tragic deaths. Why do these things happen?
As a Christian who does put hope in the fact that God is intimately aware of every single thing that happens in our individual lives, heartache tends to make me feel frustrated with God’s plan and have some doubt. I decided several years ago that I had to make the choice to either believe He is who He says He is, or not. I decided there are way too many examples of His activity in people’s lives and way too much historical evidence to believe otherwise. But, hurting hearts still make me uncertain as to what He’s doing and why. I want to know how someone tragically losing a child or spouse is ultimately better for having experienced it.
Philip Yancey has written a book called, “The Question That Never Goes Away: Why?” that I look forward to reading this year because it, as have other books by Yancey, addresses this ongoing struggle of pain in our world and trusting in a loving God. I do know there won’t be an ultimate answer that we’ve all been looking for because there isn’t one, but what it does do is remind us that everyone is struggling with this, whether that’s through personal experience, witnessing others’ hurts, or living fearful of heartache. I can relate to all three because I still question why my brain works the way it does as I struggle with anxiety, have seen and heard of many others deeply hurting, and worry about what heartache may be around the bend for me.
When heartache interrupts our lives (because most of us are busy trying to live the good life and makes things pleasant; “waiting for the weekend” mentality), it stops us and gives us the brief reality check on the preciousness of life and also serves as a reminder that we are NOT in charge. We do NOT ultimately decide whether we or our loved ones will take their next breath. Scary to consider? Stay with that feeling. If we are that helpless then we don’t also want to be hopeless. That’s where the hope of Christ enters in.
So, today I had one of those scattered days where I wasn’t too sure of myself or of my life in general. I get those a lot. However, I’m learning to let go of the need to know everything. Believe me, I want to know how things will work out, but I’m realizing I can’t do a darn thing about it. I can’t control the future and can’t mend myself from the past.
For the longest time now, I’ve been working, striving, squeezing and clenching to this idea that I could fix myself; heal and restore the broken parts; all by myself and maybe while I was at it, control things from getting too scary or messy in the future. Yea, God is good and powerful, but if there was going to be any transforming going on, I’d be in charge. This was all subconscious, I guess. I liked the idea that God would work in my life, but I don’t think I trusted Him enough to do it. It wasn’t happening as quickly or as easily as I would have liked so therefore, He must not be working. I have good intentions, you know. I want to make something better, but I’ve been going about it the wrong way.
Liar, liar, pants on fire. The lie is that we as humans can fix it; whatever your “it” is. We are helpless to do anything of any worth in this life without our Creator’s say-so. He designed the intricate details of my brain and knows the ins and outs better than I do. Sometimes that concept blows my mind and I feel like a helpless little puppy, confused and scattered as I mentioned above, but maybe that’s a healthy spot for me to be; recognizing my place in this relationship. Job 40:4 says, “Behold, I am insignificant; what can I reply to You? I lay my hand on my mouth.” A combination of realizing how much I don’t know and that He may be wanting me to let go of my lame attempt at control. He’s gently, but hopefully firmly releasing the grip I have on the steering wheel. He knows where this boat is headed. He can handle it and is rejoicing every time I let Him steer. How badly I want to stop white-knuckling it through life. It’s time to let go and enjoy the ride!