i've been struggling lately. i know. what a great way to start out my first blog post of like this entire past year. but really, does anyone even read here anymore? it's been awhile...
if you follow me on instagram, i've alluded to my struggle with fear and anxiety in small bits. but last week opened the floodgates when i shared a photo of that day's "Jesus Calling" entry which read:
Anxiety is a result of envisioning the future without me. So the best defense against worry is staying in communication with Me. When you turn your thoughts toward Me, you can think much more positively. Remember to listen, as well as to speak, making your thoughts a dialogue with Me.
If you must consider upcoming events, follow these rules: 1) Do not linger in the future, because anxieties sprout up like mushrooms when you wander there. 2) Remember the promise of My continual Presence; include Me in any imagery that comes to mind. This mental discipline does not come easily, because you are accustomed to being god of your fantasies. However, the reality of My Presence with you, now and forevermore, outshines any fantasy you could ever imagine.
and then this was my caption below that:
this is it right here, friends. all our anxieties, everywhere that our mind wanders, all those dark corners, the very pit of our deepest fears? the promise of His Presence shines into it all, exposing the fear as a lie. there is nowhere we can go to escape His Presence, Psalm 139 tells us. when we stop engaging our fears and we start communing with God, He brings everything into perspective.
a perspective where He will never leave us, where He ultimately triumphs over evil, where death has already been swallowed up in victory and where He is sovereign Lord over every detail of our lives and every minute of history as it ticks by.
the future is only unknown to us; He is not surprised by anything, ever. time will unfold as He has already ordained, so He asks us to trust Him and to keep our eyes fixed on Him and our minds firmly rooted in the things of eternity. when we do this, fear scatters and the roots of our faith grow deeper and stronger...
turn your eyes upon Jesus. look full in His wonderful face. and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His Glory and Grace.
i haven't gone into specifics about my anxiety and fear stories, and i won't. mostly because my fears are just regular things that anyone would be fearful of, so i want to be careful not to trigger anything for you who are reading. and also because it really doesn't matter what i'm fearing. the answer is the same every single time. it's always Him. but after a few months of struggling, and suffering, and having actual mental breakdowns, and feeling so much shame over it all...
i had to waive my white flag. i started to cry out to God, to listen to what He might say, to dive head first into His Word. i had to saturate my mind in Truth and i had to start praying, like really hashing it all out with God.
and here are some things i remembered.
God is not annoyed or exasperated or fed up or wondering when i will get my act together. He wants relationship with me. He wants to get to my heart. He wants His purposes to be accomplished in and through me.
so if I'm a mess, bring Him my mess. if I'm fearful, bring those fears to His feet. when i mess up again tomorrow, come to Him for forgiveness and His filling and yet another second chance.
He wants to be the hero, but so often i believe that He's just impatiently waiting for me to dry my own tears and pull myself out of the mess and figure this out already. to be my own hero. it's very clear to me that i am weak, i've always been hyper aware of that. but God is showing me that weakness is okay. that it's normal. that He already knew that, and it's exactly where He wants me. because where i am weak (which is all the time in all the ways) He is strong. where i bend and break under the weight of my fears and doubts, He is a strong tower and a mighty fortress who does not fail, does not blink, is not surprised by anything. ever.
i am slowly but surely starting to see how my fears are a result of massive unbelief.
if He has said He is in control and He loves me? if He has commanded me not to fear, and has promised me that nothing happens outside of His sovereignty? if He has created the earth and everything in it, and can do anything? if He has rescued me from from myself and has promised He would never leave or forsake me?
then my fear is a result of massive unbelief.
that song "Oceans" has taken on a new meaning for me. i used to sing it and feel such shame or sometimes just disconnected from it. because i always see that "trust without borders" imagery to be only for those super-Christians who plant churches and move to Uganda and start radical ministries and do the big things. they definitely need God's help to trust Him without borders, right?
but i realized in my smallness that i had made an idol out of self-sufficiency. that i had set minimum borders. that there were things too small to trust Him with. even if there were 5,000 small things piling up on each other, i still needed to deal with it in my own strength. and that's a lie. every single obstacle or burden that i face is okay to set at God's feet. nothing is too big for Him. and nothing is too small for Him either.
so lately i'm claiming His Word over my life and speaking it out loud over and over and i'm believing it, receiving it by faith, and walking in it. and i'm doing that every hour, literally using His Word as my sword to combat every lie and every fear and every little or big thing that flies into my mind.
as i'm typing this, i'm listening to MOMcon livestream and Lisa Chan, wife of Francis Chan, is speaking. and here's what she just said:
"we need to spend more time preaching to ourselves than listening to ourselves"
and i think that just became my mantra, along with this verse:
2 Timothy 1:7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and a sound mind.
i know better than to think that i'll wake up tomorrow and just feel this way and naturally believe all these things. i know that it's a daily battle i will have to fight. and i know that's the whole idea. relationship with Him, relying on His strength. every. single. day. so tomorrow i will not be surprised when the thoughts come. i will turn to God's Word and i will repeat His promises until my heart feels lighter and my faith is strengthened and my eyes are focused on Him alone.