Take The Time



I've really enjoyed reading everyone's resolutions for 2013 and seeing how some of my favorite bloggers are following through with the excitement of a new year. I'm pretty excited myself about changes happening this year, although I have to admit that I'm struggling right now, as I shared earlier this week.

On Tuesday evening, during our married couple's Bible study, I talked about some of the issues I'm having and I was blown away by everyone's encouragement and kindness. It was more than I expected from a group of people who we're still getting to know. But it was proof of just how important they are, and should be, to me and Pierce.

One of the things I shared was that I know pursuing God is the answer to my fears and my anxiety problems. I've experienced the peace of following after Him before. But I have the memory of a peanut. I forget very quickly how much God loves me and even more quickly how strong I am because of His strength. Sometimes I'm just barely getting through my day. At other times I feel like I can, indeed, do all things through Christ, especially after a good, long session with the Word. I'll go to bed feeling hopeful about the next day. But in the morning I'll wake up feeling like I'm back where I started and I'll spend my whole day trying to get back to that hopeful place. There's no growth. There's just survival mode.

It's frustrating. Incredibly frustrating. And tiresome. 

I hate seasons like this. I really do. I have experienced very little worse than the despair that comes from feeling like you can't get away from yourself. Outwardly everything looks, and is, peachy keen. But on the inside I feel like a total mess.

So when I shared these feelings with our group, three of our group members told me they were shocked by what they heard. Not because it's ridiculous or because I have no right to feel despair, but because they see so much strength in me. Because I have been a source of strength for them. Because it's clear I have no idea what kind of impact I've made on others in my life. 

They rallied together to encourage me without my having to ask, and I saw in them God's beautiful purpose of community. We spend time with others in fellowship- at church or in small groups- not because God wants us to follow the rules. But because He knows we will experience seasons of difficulty and trial. And He knows we will need others to tell us what we've forgotten about ourselves. 

That night, I looked around the room and saw real friends. And I was so incredibly thankful for them. For the first time in a week, I believed in the power of God's presence in my heart. I remembered that He is with me. 

I am not alone. 

So much of what I've studied this last week- in small group, at church, and in my own quiet time- has directed me towards trust and away from fear.

In the Beth Moore study I'm (still) doing, I read this:

"Any time we attach ourselves or seek safety in a fraudulent savior we have to depend on lies to support the habit."

Good Lord. Isn't that so true?

I depend on fear to make me feel in control. It has become my security blanket. My savior. If I just worry enough I'll be in control of what I fear. It won't consume me if it's all I think about, right? I mean, if I don't think about it then it's floating around somewhere out of my reach. And everyone knows if I don't have it within my grasp that must mean it's going to destroy my world! It couldn't possibly be that it's actually in God's hands instead of mine. Nope. Definitely not.

So back to being afraid I go. All the time. And it's a constant, uphill battle with myself.

I seek safety in the lies that Satan has told me. About myself. About others. About God. 

Because they are my greatest fears I hold onto them. It's the age old thought that if you worry about something enough it won't happen. Like when you're a child and your parents go out to dinner somewhere, leaving you alone with your siblings for the night. It's the first time you've ever been without them for longer than an hour or two. And when it gets late, you start to worry about where they are. You think, "Well, if I worry and worry than somehow my concern for them will keep them safe."

(Please tell me I'm not the only child who did that.)

Either way, it's such a ridiculous logic because, ultimately, what we fill our heads with becomes part of us. So if I'm filling my head with bullshit, I'm eventually going to feel like bullshit. And then maybe one day, if I'm not careful, I'll become bullshit, too. I'll become the very thing I wanted so desperately not to be...all because I was afraid.

This is why Scripture tells us to think only on things that are good, holy, and pure. It's also why it says "As a man thinks, so is he."

It's basic math. If I think about good, holy, and pure things then that's what I'll be. If I think about things that make me miserable then I'll be miserable.

So what now? How do I change life-long habits? I don't want to use the excuse of "I've always been a worrier." Because that's all it is. An excuse.

Last night Pierce said, "You know your weaknesses. You know what bothers you. And that can be a good thing if you let it." For example, I can't read sad news articles about murder and rape and tragedy because they get under my skin and ruin my whole day. I can never stop thinking about the suffering of the victims or the families. I can never stop wondering what went wrong with the criminal, a person who was probably, at one time, someone's beloved child. I find myself wondering why God made us at all if the human race is capable of such unspeakable evil. It breaks my heart.

I also can't watch scary movies. I love the thrill of being scared when you know that you can just walk out of the theater and be safe. The problem is that I never leave my fears at the theater. I keep thinking about the movie for days afterwards and I bring my fear home with me. When I saw Paranormal Activity I couldn't sleep for days.

Last night, Pierce also told me I'm like a drug user (bear with me...it's a good analogy). He said that I know what buttons I shouldn't push because they put me into such a negative place. But I read those articles because they're like watching a car wreck. I don't really want to know the details, but I can't look away. And what happens when you read something? You picture it in your mind. And then you feel like a terrible person because you pictured the victims at Sandy Hook Elementary School or in Haiti after the earthquake and, well goodness, if you can even fathom what that kind of devastation looks like it must mean you're a shitty person! And if you can't walk away from a stupid ass movie without taking your fears with you it must mean that there's something wrong with you!

So, like a user, I do the very thing I know will only make me feel worse. Because I believe that I can control it. I believe facing it somehow makes me stronger.

But all it really does is fill my head with the things that hurt me most. Heartbreak. Tragedy. Evil. Loss. Injustice. And then I start to doubt even the goodness of the people I love the most. Family. Friends.

I begin to doubt the goodness of myself. I begin to doubt the goodness of God.

Perhaps you've never struggled this way. When I read back over this entry it sounds very silly to me. But it's real. And I don't want my life to be identified by worry and stress and fear. I want it to be identified with love and hope and joy. With peace. The kind of peace that surpasses all understanding.

I want my life to be identified with Christ.

And the only way to do that is to pursue Him.

Avoiding what hurts me is not weakness. It's knowing I'll only get hurt.

Maybe your struggle is that you keep chasing after that painful relationship. You know it won't work out. It never does. But it's habit. It's part of you. And leaving would mean cutting out a part of yourself. Who wants to do that?

It's worth it. There is something better.

Maybe you don't believe you can ever get healthy. You've been sick for a long time and it's easier to medicate and make excuses than it is to get up and exercise.

It's worth it. There is something better.

Whatever you're facing, you can start taking little steps towards something better. Today. Right now.

That's my plan for 2013. I hope you'll join me. Let's pray for each other this year. Let's encourage one another to seek what is good and holy and pure.

Let's take the time to stop holding on to fraudulent saviors and start holding onto Christ. He is Truth. He is Grace. He is Love.

And He takes the time to everything right. You. And me.

Those who wait on Him are the lucky ones.

We are the lucky ones.

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