I cried myself to sleep last night, my body too exhausted to feel anything and my brain too racked with worry to think rationally. Everything was a swirling, dark spiral of fear, worry, and anxiety.
What if I’m not enough? What if I’m a bad mom? What if I’m a bad wife? What if I’m just not good enough? My daughters both have some issues that I’m trying to guide them through… What if I totally mess up and they become absolutely traumatised people with no coping mechanisms? What if I fail?
My husband, love that he is, listened when I could find words to express my self doubts, and cuddled me for the rest of the night when I ran out of actual words and was reduced to sniffles.
Satan has a way of picking on our weaknesses and tempting us into the deepest pits. And he has an awfully clever way of disguising it as a yearning for self-improvement. I often forgive myself for my anxieties about being a better wife and mom because I excuse it as “just trying to do my best.” Then, most holy benefactor that I am, I give myself grace to be imperfect.
The midnight self loathing went on for quite a while last night. By the time 3am rolled around, I’d gone from “what if I can’t provide stability for my kids?” to “maybe I’m too fat to be worth anything.”
Thankfully, the Holy Spirit said enough is enough.
“Be anxious for nothing,” the command came, a cliche verse that I absolutely hate.
“I can’t be anxious for nothing, God! Don’t you understand? I have so much to be worried about, can’t I hold onto one pet sin?”
“It is sin to know what you should do and then not do it.”
Great… so the Holy Spirit was getting me with the verse I use on to my kids. Fantastic.
“I know the right thing is for me to trust you, but I just can’t right now. Look at me, God, I can’t even lie in this bed without shaking!”
“Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God.”
Sometimes, in my idol factory of a heart, it’s so hard to remember that He is God and I am not. And when I spiral, although it feels like self-deprecation, I’m really putting myself on the throne of my life. Somehow I’ve imagined that I’m in control and fear, worry, and anxiety—my oh so unfaithful friends—are there as horrible little advisors to tell me how much more power I should be grasping.
My pastor is preaching through the book of Joshua. It is, for lack of a better word, intense. (And you should go give some of the sermons a listen… Particularly Battles and Rest and An Intro to Inheritance. This is not sponsored content, I just genuinely think people need to hear these sermons) He described sins in our hearts as little Canaanites hiding in the bushes that we have to root up, just as Israel was told to completely destroy all those in the Promised Land. Whenever Israel didn’t do as they were commanded or only mostly obeyed, there were consequences in the form of lingering Canaanites who made their lives pretty miserable. And my personal Canaanite du jour was fear, worry, and anxiety.
Bringing every thought captive under Christ doesn’t mean patting myself on the pack in self pity and telling myself that I’m enough. Our cultural version of self-care and affirmations don’t actually go very far in killing anxiety. My worries were only ceased when I took myself off the throne and remembered God’s rightful place. I’m always telling my one particularly nervous daughter that God is in control of our “what if’s,” that we don’t need to worry about every doubt we face because He holds our entire lives and will provide for us.
I said in a previous blog post, over 4 years ago, “It’s easier to tell my heart not to worry than it is to actually calm whatever neurological triggers that are firing up in my brain to make me feel anxious, but it’s a start. Jesus is the cure for the “Mommy Dreads.” He’s given me all I need to be a good mom. I just need to trust Him and know that He’s leading me.”
Four years later, I still struggle with fear, worry, and anxiety. I likely will for my entire life. But that is not my god. I must remember Christ. I’m not whimsically trying to get a start towards calming my anxiety anymore, promising myself I’ll do better. I’m going to the source for weapons and I’m uprooting it on the spot. If Jesus says not to worry, then I’m not worrying. If Jesus says to be anxious for nothing, then I must be anxious for nothing. If my every thought is to belong to Christ, then I am crucifying the old self who worries and frets and lives in a cycle of self-pity and self-congratulations. Anxiety and insomnia say I’m not enough. Correct. I am not enough. But Jesus is.
What if God gives me what I need to be a good mom? What if God provides me the grace to be a good wife? I can’t control the hearts of my kids, but I can pray for them and be good stewards of them while I wait to see the Holy Spirit work in them. What if I trusted Him?
So today, I am focusing on His perfection. In the words of one of my favourite songs, “I could never keep my hold through life’s fearful path, for my love is often cold. He must hold me fast.” God is faithful and much more deserving than I to be on the throne in my life. I am praying today that He will help me crush the idol of self and free me from fear, worry, and anxiety.