Wednesday, May 14, 2014

On anxiety - part one.

2 months ago, I wrote about the 4 major life events we were tackling in about 3 weeks.
Well, the 3 weeks is here, folks. Last week, I flew from Boston to Omaha with miss Adelyn (and the help of my wonderful mother). Then, my main man finished up grad school, had a quick vacay with his parents and brothers who were visiting Boston, packed up our moving truck, and is driving as we speak.
from Boston, Massachusetts.
which is located on the Atlantic ocean.
to Omaha, Nebraska
which is 1444 miles from the Atlantic ocean.
pulling our car on an auto transport behind the truck.

This week, Lord willing, a few crucial things will come together and we'll make a decision about Ben's job. And maybe move into our new place. Or maybe that will be next week. Unless the baby arrives early. I'm 36 weeks and 3 days. So we'll squeeze in a birth sometimes in the next few weeks too.

When I wrote about all this back in March, I left something out because I hadn't processed it yet. But now, I can articulate it. I think.

Sometime in February-ish, an unprecedented level of anxiety began to creep into my soul. I say unprecedented because I don't really tend to be an anxious person. I'm pretty go-with-the-flow-it'll-all-work-out-and-when-possible-make-a-list-or-spreadsheet-to-figure-it-out. In fact, I didn't even know what to do with a persistent feeling of anxiety. But, all of the sudden, it seemed, a lot of uncertainty was piled up at once. a lot.
My lists weren't working.
And there was nothing to 'figure out.'
And I would find myself in the middle of the day, or night, feeling physically nervous. My heart would start racing, my mind wondering how everything would play out.

Have you been there? In the midst of heart-pounding-can't-sleep-so-many-questions-anxiety?
It's not fun. Everything seemed urgent and nothing seemed to have a solution. I needed to not feel like this. One morning, after a few minutes of waking up in the early morning hours, tossing and turning, trying to get back to sleep, I tiptoed (aka: rolled awkwardly like a huge pregnant whale & waddled) out of bed into the living room to pray. I didn't really know what to pray, but I asked the Lord to give me peace.
And this verse was brought to mind - "Do not be anxious about anything. But in everything, by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 4:6-7)
I'm not sure when I memorized that one, but there it was, coming up to the surface of my mind right when I needed it.

Do not be anxious about anything. [Ha! Like it's that easy! I thought]

The more I thought through it though, the more I realized that the verse doesn't just say "Do not be anxious about anything." If it ended there, it'd be up to me to muster up the willpower to just not be anxious.
But it doesn't end there.
And it wasn't up to me to just muster up a peaceful feeling.
The second part is even more helpful.

BUT, in everything, by prayer and supplication [asking], with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. 

At some point, it dawned on me that I actually needed to follow those instructions in order to experience the "peace of God that surpasses all understanding." However initially unsatisfying this 'to-do' appeared, this was the thing I could do. I could let my requests be made known to God. How easy it is to recite a verse over and over and not actually do what it says. Maybe God knew we'd be like that when he inspired James to write "Don't just listen to God's Word. Do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves." (James 1:22)

So, heart pounding in the early morning, full of anxiety, I started to do exactly that - let my requests be made known to God.
At first I couldn't even get the words out to pray for anything else. It was like I just didn't know what to say. All I could do was list the things that were producing anxiety.
And then, over time, I started asking for resolution & clarity. Asking for unity in decision-making with Ben. Breathing slowly, allowing the peace of God that surpasses understanding to wash over my heart and my mind.
And you know what? It worked. Just like God promised it would.

In everything, by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

Until 2 hours later when I started to remember all the things that were unresolved.
And so, like the instructions on a shampoo bottle - rinse and repeat.
Listing all my requests to God. Making them all known.
Of course, He already knew them. But something about the process of telling them to Him - casting all my anxieties onto him - something about doing what the Bible said to do... well, it worked.
And again.

So that's part one. We've learned a lot in the past year. And I've spent a lot of time processing it all these past weeks, hence the silence in blog-world. It was too much to write. Too hard to get the words out in any sensible fashion. I have approximately 12 posts started and left in draft form, foggy, unclear, unfinished. Slowly, though, I think it's coming to me. Bit by bit. And I'm eager to share it with you.

But for now, just one little part. On anxiety. And its desire to control you. Don't let it.

In those moments of fear, remember, there is a God who cares for you. YOU. As an individual.
He cares about your heart and your mind and your state of being.
He sees you awake at night, wondering how it'll all turn out.
And he says - tell me all your requests. give them all to me. my yoke is easy and my burden is light. i love you. i want to pour out my peace on you.
He says his peace will stand guard at the doors of your heart and mind. 
If only we would just let our requests be made known to Him.