“The more often he feels without acting, the less he will be able ever to act, and, in the long run, the less he will be able to feel.”–C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters
Sometimes I feel very strongly the things that I must do, whether it is to give someone an encouraging word; whether it is to write something down for others to read; or whether it is simply to knit something for someone, and pray for that person while I am knitting it. When this urge to do these things comes upon me, I cannot describe it any other way, except to say that I must do it , or suffer all sorts of unrest and anxiety. In my younger days, it was quite simple really. I just followed this God-thing within me. As I’ve grown older, it has become easier to second guess myself and wonder what it is that compels me to be this way, instead of just doing what I know is required. I have felt a need to have all things, by outward appearances anyway, in order first, before proceeding with anything else. I have also come to a place in life where it has been difficult for me to listen to the promptings within me, for fear of being misunderstood, or mislabeled.
In the mid nineties, DC Talk was a popular Christian band and also one of my favorite musical groups. One particular album of theirs, “Jesus Freak”, was one that I played over and over , and over again, in the cassette deck of my car, as I drove to and from work. I loved that song, “Jesus Freak”. I was not ashamed of those words, and I wanted the world to know. I even had a bracelet, fashioned from a leather strap, with a metal plate on it with the label “Jesus Freak” stamped in it. I wore it proudly, and I hoped passers-by would see it and wonder. I’m sure they did. I’m sure they saw it , and wondered. I think If my husband had let me, I would have driven around with a fish bumper sticker on my car; I was THAT devoted.
Things were so very black and white for me. I had a very clear idea of what I thought was right and wrong, and I didn’t question what was taught from the church pulpit. I was a Sunday school teacher, I prayed for my own children daily, and read books with titles like “How to Raise Godly Children”. I was sure that if I did all the “right” things, my life would turn out perfectly and God would continue to pour out His blessings upon me.
Since then, life’s circumstances have taught me that people will indeed disappoint me, and because of this, I have had to deal with more anger, bitterness, and resentment than I thought it was possible for me to own. I have become a little less sure of myself and I am not as eager to share my thoughts with others. Sometimes I worry that I cannot follow through with the things God requires of me, and the lyrics of one of the other songs DC Talk used to sing ruminates in my head : ” What if I stumble , what if I fall? What if I lose my way and I make fools of us all?”
I recently had a conversation with a close friend who happens to be a Registered Nurse. We were talking about suffering from the effects of anxiety, and she told me about a website, Anxietynetwork.com, where I read about ANTs, which are Automatic Negative Thoughts. This is an actual psychological term for something that I think I deal with quite often. Who knew there was a real term for the angst going on inside my head? Anyway…for some people it’s common to have a negative thought and to beat yourself up about it , and then not follow through with anything good that you may feel led to do because of these negative thoughts. I am oversimplifying this whole process, but this happens, and apparently, I am not alone.
I am by nature a worrier. I cause myself all sorts of unnecessary angst because of it. Some dear friends of mine recommended a daily reading , “Jesus Calling” by Sarah Young, which I started in the New Year. It has helped me to enjoy the peace He offers in His Presence. It is Lovely. It is through this process of learning once again, to find peace amidst the turmoil of Life, that I have taken time to reflect and wonder what it is that has happened to me over the course of these years that have gone by. More importantly, despite all of this, I have learned that God is indeed real, but He is not who I thought He was. He is much more loving and full of grace than I could have imagined. It is because of His Faithfulness that I am still here, still struggling with Life, but still here, still breathing. I have relearned Love and Forgiveness, and lyrics like “Blessings are not just for the ones who kneel” (U2’s City of Blinding Lights), move me in a way that was not possible before. I don’t need to worry people will realize that I am not in control at all. I had forgotten the rest of the lyrics of the song, “will the love continue when my walk becomes a crawl? What if I stumble and what if I fall? I hear You whispering my name. You say My love for You will never change. You are my comfort and my God.”
It’s totally okay for me to not have all my ducks in a row before I venture out and do the thing that is required of me, whatever that may be.
” The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God , and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” — II Corinthians 10:4-6