I woke up on the wrong side of the bed. No, I wasn’t exactly grumpy. I was anxious. There’s a lot happening this month and we went to bed talking about finances. I fell asleep thinking about how to help people who are grieving, feeling like I’m not enough, and panicking about income. My night consisted of dreams that I was being forced to dance on stage, my children were kidnapped and I was running after a van where they were looking out the back window in terror, and I was being choked by a monkey that looked like Gollum. Bad night means bad morning and I woke up with that nauseous feeling and have been struggling to catch my breath all day.
I was in need of what the kids call a mental health day. I absolutely did not want to teach school. I wanted to retreat to the bathroom and sink into the comforting hug of a warm bath with a book in my hands. I wanted to declare a tv day despite my vow to limit the girls’ screen time to Saturday morning only. I wanted to skip my devotions in case something convicted me and further disrupted my frightened rabbit of a heart.
But instead, I got up. I read my Bible. I did the school day. And do you know what?
I didn’t feel any better.
I’ll bet you were waiting to hear me say that plugging ahead fixed all my problems or that just doing the next right thing put my mind at ease. But it didn’t. I did the next thing, I kept working, all with the physical manifestations of my anxiety: the nausea, the heart palpitations, the sweaty hands, the shaking breath.
Yes, I’ve written about crushing fear, worry, and anxiety before. I am actively seeking to destroy it in my life. But boy, that doesn’t mean I don’t feel it.
They say that true bravery isn’t the absence of fear, but being afraid and charging into battle anyway. Truly beating fears and worries for me means that even when I feel them, my feelings don’t master me. They don’t own me, so I don’t have to follow them.
Jesus masters me. And some days, He makes the feelings of anxiety go away! Other days, I still feel them. But no matter what I’m feeling, I am still called to obedience.
It being January, I’m back in Genesis in my personal devotions. A few days ago I was marvelling over how Noah just obeyed God and built the Ark. I can’t imagine how afraid he must have felt or the amount of physical work he had to do. But he just… obeyed. He trusted God beyond what he could see and did as he was commanded.
That’s what I’m trying to do right now. There are always reasons to be afraid, but my dependence is on the God who gives us all reason to trust. God always keeps His promises and He has promised to be with us. He didn’t promise that we’d always feel okay. But He has promised us joy, which is something I still have even on the days I am white knuckling it and wondering if I’m a good enough wife and mother or fretting about how hard it is to be a one income family. Contentment doesn’t go away just because you’re afraid, but if we’re not careful, Satan will try to use fear to rob us of our contentment and joy.
God is in control. I am not. This is a good thing. A scary thing, but a good thing. All I have to do is just keep faithfully obeying Him!