I don’t know about you, but December has been a busy month in our house. As I left work the last Thursday in December, I savored the idea of a long, quiet weekend. We had a trip to Mayo Clinic the next week to seek some expert advice for our son’s asthma, and the long weekend was set aside to be rest and peace and fun with my husband and kids. No obligations, no requirements, no nothing. This weekend was to be an oasis of peace before we jump headlong into January, the new year, and all of the adventures 2013 is sure to bring.
I shouldn’t have been surprised when my eyes popped open at 2 am on Friday morning with an uneasy pit in my stomach. Overwhelming fear and worry had replaced my peace and joyful anticipation for the weekend. I was thinking about work. I was thinking about events that might happen in 2013. I was thinking about a variety of things — none of which I could do a single thing about right now.
The thieves of fear and worry had arrived, and I allowed them in. I tried to shove them aside. I tried to ignore them. I tried to distract myself until I fell back asleep. It worked, kind of. I slept fitfully the rest of the night. The thieves returned Friday morning as I puttered around the house with the kids. I found myself distracted and trying to puzzle out solutions while I was cooking breakfast, while I was helping the kids redecorate their rooms, while I tried to pick up the Christmas explosion that has consumed every room of my house.
I called my husband at work mid-morning. I told him what was going on and asked him to pray with me. Then I called my mom. She told me to stop talking to her and go talk to God. And so I did. I confronted the fear and worry head on — and prayerfully handed those situations to God. Every time my mind veered toward worry, I stopped myself and handed it all back to God.
I’m not going to lie, Friday was rough. It was a constant battle of me handing situations back to God. But I’m getting smarter. I know that I have a tendency to be a worry-wort. And I recognize a pattern in my life: overwhelming fear and worry hit me the hardest whenever I am about to go on a fun trip, or when I am about to do something or go somewhere I’ve been looking forward to for weeks. If I allowed it, the joy of the experience would be trumped by unfounded fear and worry. Fear and worry are thieves of the joy in my life.
I don’t think I am alone in this. In fact, Phillipians, Chapter 4 addresses the situation:
6-7 Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.
Don’t get me wrong, this is HARD, at least for me. But I am discovering that, over time, the battles against fear and worry have gotten easier. I recognize the pattern more quickly and turn to God with whatever situation is tying me in knots. And, I have witnessed, repeatedly, how God has resolved difficult situations in ways I could never have anticipated and would never have thought of on my own.
So, as we begin 2013 with a list of resolutions we will probably break, with fears of violence aimed at our schools and our children, with fear and uncertainty over our economy, I continue to seek God when the thieves of fear and worry show up on my doorstep.
We are alike in so many ways! I am a fixer and it was a difficult lesson for me to learn that not all things can be “fixed”. It stemmed from my early experience with drs. fixing my cleft lip and palate. All through that time I heard over and over: Don’t worry I can fix that. When my mom had cancer there was nothing to be done, your grandpa got old I couldn’t fix that either, a close friend had Alzheimers and passed away, Uncle John had cancer and no fixing that either and then, of course, Uncle Jim and his brain condition…These were the hardest times of my life and my anger with God for being cruel was only surpassed by my own feelings of remorse for not having the skills and smarts to “fix” the ones I cared for the most. It took a while for my anger to fade and for my brain to wrench my heart away from the guilt I felt. Brains finally convinced me that my “fixing” skills were for the ones who had been left behind and then sleep returned and my happy face was back in good working order. God was a big part of that. While I am not a Christian (I am more a Buddhist/Jew LOL) I pray to God daily and he helps me keep my house in order so that the things I cannot fix do not overwhelm my life.
Good word, Julie! So glad our God is the God of peace.