As of late, I have been convicted of my seemingly lifelong battle with anxiety. I’ve wanted to tackle this sin bent of mine, and conquer it. Sometimes I am so anxious that my spiritual wrestle turns into physical discomfort. When feeling anxious, my stomach will begin to tie itself in knots (at least that what it feels like), my shoulders start to tense and I clench my teeth so hard my head hurts – I also usually forget to exhale and most of the time, I don’t even realize it.
I’ll never forget the first time I felt really anxious as a child. I was about nine years old and my parents had just leased a brand new gold Honda Civic. Whenever we had a new car in the family, it was standard that we would all hop in and take it for a little spin. After having the car a short while, my parents sat my sisters and I down and told us that they would be returning the car because the payments were more than what they had budgeted for.
The way my young self translated this was that we were poor and I was terrified. I think my dad knew we might think that and he took my sisters and I to Target to pick out some things for ourselves. I remember that one of the new(er) Star Wars movies had recently debuted in theaters and I found myself a Queen Amidala t-shirt and calendar (#nerd) but I made sure they were on clearance. Little did I know that the whole returning the car experience would be something that marked my life forever. In retrospect, it honestly was not a big deal, my parents just wanted to be wise with their money and most of my financial wisdom has been gleaned by following in their footsteps.
Unfortunately, my first response to that incident was fear – a deeply rooted fear that has reared it’s ugly head too many times for me to count and has left me desperately trying to control many areas of my life hoping that I will never have to feel that way or experience that ever again. As you may have guessed, my MO has failed but my Savior has continually shown me that He is faithful.
In Psalm 37:3, believers are commanded to, “Trust in the LORD and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness,” some translations state, “feed on faithfulness.” How sweet to have a Heavenly Father who not only gives me a command but gives me the grace to obey it. I have experienced many crazy things, especially over the past year, that have provided enough fodder for me to feed on faithfulness for a lifetime.
A few weeks ago my heart was greatly blessed when I listened to a message titled, No Need to Worry by Shawn Farrell who is the college pastor at my church back in California and the pastor who performed my wedding ceremony. In this message, Shawn read Romans 8:31-32 which states, “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” I especially LOVE verse 32 because of how Paul, the author of Romans, asks the question. It seems as if Paul asks it in such a way that is almost a double negative of sorts, “How will he not?” begs us to realize that He will! Not because He must but because it is accordance with His will and His character to give His children all things. He does so graciously, and He does so by giving us His Son, Jesus Christ, who makes known to us the path of life, gives us fullness of joy in His presence and pleasures forevermore at His right hand (Psalm 16:11).
Last week my husband’s pay check was a little lower than the past few because he hasn’t worked as much over time lately. Instead of being joyful and content with what the Lord had provided, I freaked out as I reviewed our budget wondering how certain bills would be paid. I started to get worked up, my mind was racing a million and a half miles per hour and I thought to myself, “Well, we can cut the grocery budget. . . but I am breastfeeding mom. . . oh well, we have to do what we have to do. . .” How silly of me, in light of all the Lord has done, to have panic be my first response. In reviewing our bills, I realized that some of them aren’t even due until next month. That left us with our full grocery budget and even a teeny bit to get coffee on the weekend.
I am memorizing Romans 8:31-32 so along with dwelling on the Lord’s faithfulness, I can put off anxiety by taking my thoughts captive (2 Corinthians 10:5) and thinking on what is true (Philippians 4:8). In November I was in a car accident that left my car totaled but myself and my unborn daughter completely unscathed. I was SO disappointed. I wondered why the Lord would take the first car I owned that I had worked so hard to pay off. I had already left my home, job, church, friends and family to move halfway across the country – wasn’t that enough? Although I don’t know exactly why the Lord allowed that to happen, I believe He was using it to refine me and to cause me to trust Him as He gave me more of His faithfulness to feed on. It took my husband and I a while to find a new car, but when we did, it happened to be a gold Honda Civic. I don’t want to put too much into that but I know the Lord was in control of that situation just as He is in control now.
He is God, I am not. He chose not to spare His own Son but to give Him up for me and as if that weren’t enough, He has graciously given me all things through His Son, including a right standing with Him, precious grace that abounds more than my sin and His kindness that causes me to repent of my anxiety and grow more like His Son as I trust in His great love for me.