Preface: Today’s blog might be a little boring to some. This is isn’t comical or uncomfortably vulnerable. I’m merely sharing with the hopes to give you the boost to keep pushing forward.
“This is so embarrassing,” I thought to myself as I set in my glass encased office with tears trickling from my eyes. I kept my head down and prayed that no one would catch a glimpse of my bloodshot red eyes. I just needed to make it to lunch time without completely falling apart. “Just seven more minutes, Chris. Just keep your head down until then.”
“Are you okay?” the question that I silently pleaded that no one would utter to me. “No, I’m not okay,” I whispered as tears cascaded from my eyes to the stack of papers beneath me.”
| A Gentle Reminder |
I suffer from some mild levels of anxiety. Unless you know me and really pay attention to me, you probably wouldn’t notice it. I work overtime to mask that part of me from the public eye and even my friends because it is embarrassing. I become overwhelmed and a bit panicked when I have too many options, and sometimes two is too many. I am a severe worry wart who obsesses over the tiniest of details. I am a perfectionist, and I beat myself to a pulp if I can’t do things just right. Sometimes my trepidation about whether or not I will perform perfectly makes me not want to perform at all. Worst of all, I build up a fear of the “what ifs” that don’t even exist yet. I have almost mastered not being overtaken by my anxiety, but every now and then, it gets the best of me.
Yesterday was just one of those days. I was a little slow getting out of the house…a great enemy to my 35 minute commute to work and the unpredictable traffic that plagues the highway that I travel. I unlocked my office door to reveal a messy desk: an obvious demonstration of the exhaustion, frustration, and tedious day I had Tuesday. I cleared my desk and began grinding to meet yet another deadline but was distracted by the nagging reminder that my lease is up in five months. Why did I have to think about that right then? Couldn’t those thoughts wait? I abandoned my work to once again begin my apartment hunt; I was caught in this search for about the sixth time within the last seven days. The obsession had officially kicked in, and my overactive thinking was about to be in full swing. Before I knew it I was crunching numbers, trying to find solutions, and getting frustrated because I couldn’t. I was officially worried. One back stabbing from a coworker and a tongue lashing from a parent later, and I was in tears. There was too much pressure from too many directions, and I just couldn’t take it. I felt like all of the air had been sucked out of the room, and I couldn’t breathe. Finally, it was time for lunch. I quickly exited the building craving fresh air. If I could just sit in my car (my quiet place), listen to some music, and eat some food, I could reset. All of the local drive-thru lines were long, my order was incorrect, and I cried almost every minute of my 30 minute lunch break. I walked back to my office no more relieved than when I left, then I remembered I had a big exam in a matter of hours. My worry grew to include not only the what ifs about my impending move but everything from my grade on my state board mock exam to the $1,500 tuition that has to be paid off by January, to every other end that is still loose in my life. I was overwhelmed, and the tears stood at ready in my eyes.
My sister emailed me yesterday asking if I could do her hair this weekend, but I failed to respond. As a matter of fact, the email was still sitting open on my screen when I arrived to work this morning. I responded to her question, and the conversation gradually shifted from hair to life. She shared with me some challenges on her plate, and I opened up about my anxiety. As much as I wanted to sulk in what I felt and act helpless, I knew I wasn’t without help. Despite my worry, feelings, and anxiety, I had certainty that God had taken care of every detail of my life up to this point. My sister said, “I know that I know my God, and he doesn’t fail.” Then she hit me with straight bible:
“Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?
So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.
So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.”
Matthew 6:26-34 [New Living Translation]
In that moment, my mind traveled to a faithful Sunday morning almost 10 years ago when my mother stood robed (a blue robe, I believe) behind the podium and read that very scripture. “Turn to your neighbor and say, ‘The birds ain’t trippin.'” That was the title of her sermon, and words that have stuck with me for a decade. (I’m going to watch that DVD sometime this weekend.)
Here I am flipping out, crunching numbers, panicking, and freaking out because what I lack (even if just knowledge) seems like such a large deficit. Ultimately, I know that the gaps can only be filled by God because he has all of the finite details not only figured out but completed. He isn’t waiting for things to work out; they have worked out, and I am waiting for them to manifest.
Birds don’t plant, harvest, or grocery shop (store food), but they eat everyday. I’ve never seen a sad looking bird moping around because it didn’t have seed or a worm. God always provides something to sustain them. The birds ain’t trippin. If God takes care of the birds, how much more will he take care of his children? Reading this scripture prompted me to ask God for forgiveness. Worrying, doubting, and stressing short-changed my faith in him that he can and will handle things…LIKE HE’S DONE EVERY OTHER TIME! And this scripture got me all the way together. “Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?” The answer is, “NAAAAAAAAAAH!!!” Not one millisecond will be added to my days because I stress until I come up with a plan. The promise of my sustained [quality of] life is rooted in trusting him.
Anxiety is real. I know this first hand and will never downplay what I or anyone else has felt. I do know that God is greater than my feelings. The very things that we worry about and fear are under the scope of his control. My plate is so full of things both good and bad that seem to be overwhelming me in every way. You too may have cares that are weighing on you. I want to gently remind you that God cares about you so much so that you cast (throw forcefully) your cares on him. (1 Peter 5:7). Furthermore, I want to remind you that despite your plan seemingly falling apart, He has a plan for your life that doesn’t lead to destruction (Jeremiah 29:11).
Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad.
Proverbs 12:25 [English Standard Version]
I know this probably wasn’t the best thing I’ve written, but I do hope it is a “good word” that can make you glad.
Here’s the hymn that I’ve singing since yesterday…
I don’t know about tomorrow;
I just live from day to day.
I don’t borrow from it’s sunshine
For it’s skies may turn to grey.
I don’t worry o’er the future,
For I know what Jesus said.
And today I’ll walk beside Him,
For He knows what is ahead.
Many things about tomorrow
I don’t seem to understand
But I know who holds tomorrow
And I know who holds my hand.
I hope this helps.