Anxiety–it’s not a fun word to say and it’s not a blessed state to reside in. The heavy chest, spinning thoughts, racing pulse, tense nerves, and shallow breaths–none of it promises benefits to the body or soul. If you’re feeling anything like me this week–you may want to slow things down and refocus.
Yes, slow down with me today.
Today, I gave myself the day off to tend to the urgent, the necessary, and the neglected. After over three weeks of personal illness multiplied by a household of ten, I’ve felt wiped out. It seems when one of us succumbs to something contagious–I surrender, my to-do-list goes into the garbage, and a lightning paced routine must pause. It’s then that for a few weeks a new reality kicks in–the joy of reading to a little son or daughter while cuddled under a blanket, the dread of refilling drippy humidifiers, and my shopper dodging to replace cough drops and medicine. It’s true, sometimes trading one full schedule for something far less hectic might sound inviting but in the end–it’s just a different shade of busy in my world.
Maybe you can relate?
As the sicknesses were subsiding, I then felt the urgency to catch up on lost time and I decided to flit in every direction. I picked up a new gallon of paint over the weekend for the family room walls. My late start to Christmas decorating and shopping regained momentum. A stack of bills clamored at me to place them in the mailbox. Both dirty and clean laundry piles continued to reproduce tenfold in my laundry baskets and stir crazy kiddos began to sound louder and walk faster through the house. At its mommy overload peak, I then realized the insignificance each life stressor posed. After a tad of mommy guilt and an update on current events–I remembered I already hold more than I could ever hope for on this side of Heaven.
Let it go.
So, I then had a good prayerful cry and my Father heard me. His answers were gentle. My husband took five of our children to church and let me brush my hair and teeth before driving over myself. Our oldest son at home asked how I was feeling and our oldest daughter brought me coffee. I arrived at the worship service with puffy eyes and a tight throat but was physically there. Afterwards, I welcomed a small cat-nap at home and then was whisked away by three of our children to shop for Christmas care packages. The restful drive, the eating out, the gratefulness of our children, and the joy of my husband while caring for our four littlest at home–was just what this mommy needed.
Are you feeling anxious?
Some anxieties, even anxieties at Christmas, will still paw at us from every angle. If we stew on them long enough–we’ll end up like my clean laundry–unfolded and piled in the corner of a dark room. I don’t believe God, in His grace, wants any of us to stay in this place. It’s one thing to feel anxious and acknowledge it–but embracing it as our new normal is something entirely different.
God knows us and our personal needs.
I’m not anyone notable or important, I have to clean our toilets, wash floors, make beds, and prepare just about two hundred family meals and snacks a week. I tend to get enthusiastically overcommited, exhausted each night like everyone else, and my internal alarm clock goes off way too early each morning. We are not too much different you and I, nor are we much different from those God announced the birth of His precious Son to on that first Christmas morning. We are common like the shepherds and chosen by God’s grace like Joseph and Mary to carry out His will while we live upon His earth–even if we feel anxious at first.
Welcome His Peace.
Before and after anxiety comes knocking at our door during this Holy season, it’s my prayer that we’ll give ourselves permission and grace to slow life down, take a breath, be still, and turn over every anxiety to God. If we do, we will find rest or maybe–rest will find us. Then, when this peace, joy, love, and gratefulness will willingly replace the heaviness within our hearts–anxiety won’t stand a chance. Well, at least until the next time it attempts to creep in…
It’s time to go there.
“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”
“The angel said to them, “Don’t be afraid, for look, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.”
“He just seems to enjoy revealing Himself to common people rather than to those who feel most worthy. He often uses the foolish things of this world to confound the wise. Maybe God had a soft place in His heart for the shepherds watching over their flocks.”
“Take a good look, friends, at who you were when you got called into this life. I don’t see many of “the brightest and the best” among you, not many influential, not many from high-society families. Isn’t it obvious that God deliberately chose men and women that the culture overlooks and exploits and abuses, chose these “nobodies” to expose the hollow pretensions of the “somebodies”? That makes it quite clear that none of you can get by with blowing your own horn before God. Everything that we have—right thinking and right living, a clean slate and a fresh start—comes from God by way of Jesus Christ. That’s why we have the saying, “If you’re going to blow a horn, blow a trumpet for God.”