Presently, life is a bit raw.
As in, nothing seems to quite line up with the ways that I have figured it should.
Take, for example, the situation I have found myself in with my youngest son, Hudson.
Last June, Hudson was diagnosed with a brain tumour. A type I glioma, (non-cancerous at this moment) and seemingly inactive.
We found out about this tumour because I’d been on a pit-bull adventure of wrestling some answers out of the health care system for his chronic, uncontrollable asthma.
And today, our family has lived for just over a year with the terrible knowledge of that tumour just sitting there. It hasn’t changed this year. And he is still symptom-free, but he is always getting sick with every cold, flu, pneumonia and virus you can find.
How do I reconcile the possibility and dread of an upcoming, pending evil event (say, surgery?) with a profound gratitude, deeply felt on all levels for the time to let him grow up, to search and see if he might be healed, and steady his system with loads of good things?
I fear, this dichotomy, of dread and gratitude has made me feel disingenuous, inauthentic, and ridiculously tossed about.
(Reminds me of a verse…how about the person anchored in doubt? Tossed much?)
I have shrunk from saying what I really feel, how I’m really processing, because I’ve been afraid of this torn-ness.
I don’t want to be misunderstood. I know that one moment I will be praising- filled with faith and gratitude, and the next moment I’ll be so deeply aware of the unsteady ground I’m on– can ANY one really imagine what a parent must go through when their children’s brain is being opened up and surgically repaired?
(Just that thought still makes my eyes well up in tears…)
But I’ve learned something. Something that is slowly transforming me.
This place that I’ve found myself in- tossed and torn- has shown me a hidden enemy.
Ah yes! You’ve heard of him? You have perhaps experienced him for yourself?
Truly, Anxiety is the plague of our modern society… you can meet him on Facebook, on the people’s faces as they watch the news, on the roads as we rage against each other in our rush to get where we need to be. You especially find in him the hospital…
And I almost allowed him to rule over me. To own my life.
One day while I was contemplating this situation that I’m in, I saw a little picture of my feet all bound up in those iron shackles. I saw my hands similarly bound. And I was stuck.
I was a prisoner.
It took a good six months or more for me to realize that I was even captured. I told everyone that I was fine. That I didn’t worry or feel like anything was out of God’s control. (Which was true–because I was able to admit that I believed God could heal, would heal and was good no matter what… but I never took the next step.)
I was too scared to admit that I was anxious (the next step) because I was full of pride. I wanted to be a model for my church, a model for the blog world, a perfectly perfect model for my family (who all knew that I was struggling, so who am I kidding?)
I worried about worry. And was anxious about being labelled anxious.
And the whisper of a song – a song written thousands of years ago called me out to deal with this denial…
David sang to God (who didn’t smite him with a lightening bolt for his feelings) and he said this:
1 O Lord, I have so many enemies;
so many are against me.
2 So many are saying,
“God will never rescue him!”
3 But you, O Lord, are a shield around me;
you are my glory, the one who holds my head high.
4 I cried out to the Lord,
and he answered me…..
5 I lay down and slept…
(You) watch over me.
6 I am not afraid of (my) enemies
(when I am)surrounded on every side.
7 Arise, O Lord!
Rescue me, my God!
8 Victory comes from you, O Lord.
May you bless your people.
I have enemies. They are called worry, sickness, dread, death, ambition, selfishness…. so many plotting to snag me and keep me mired in this pit of anxiety.
And sickness taunts me: “God will not rescue Hudson. He hasn’t yet…”
And dread whispers: ” You are on your own. God will not be there when you need Him most.”
And worry shouts: “WHAT WILL YOU DO??? YOU ARE NOT STRONG ENOUGH! YOU DON’T HAVE THE RESOURCES! YOU DON’T HAVE ENOUGH FAMILY AROUND! WHO WILL CARE FOR YOU AS YOU CARE FOR HUDSON? WHO WILL TAKE CARE OF OLIVIA AND ALEX? YOU ARE ABANDONING THEM! YOU ARE ALL THEY HAVE AND THIS IS THE BEST YOU CAN BRING?? THIS IS TOO MUCH! ”
These are loud, ever-present voices, and I’ve come to see I need rescuing from them more than from my actual daily circumstances.
But then David gives me fighting words– words to gingerly, then confidently speak back to Anxiety.
“I cried out to the Lord and He answered me.”
He has heard.
He has not forgotten.
He is God. And He is good.
He watched over me. He makes me lie down in sleep (merciful!) because He is standing guard.
He rescues His people. Where is one time in the bible when He doesn’t save His people?
And He ends the battle in my mind with His decided Victory- which comes from Him and the power of the Holy Spirit.
Anxiety will always be here to dodge our steps. Especially if we are called to lead others. (As a parent, as a business leader, as teacher, as a small group leader…)
If we all quit leading or doing what God called us to do each time we faced our enemy Anxiety, where would that take us? Would I let Anxiety win over my life? Is that where I might end up if I don’t face him?
Rather, day by day, I sing with the Psalmist- I acknowledge my Enemy. I stare him in the eye and I remind him Who rescues me. I remind Him that though there may be days when I’m tossed around and crying under my bedcovers, he is not the boss. He doesn’t own me. He doesn’t get to be the winner.
And you know what? I’ve been feeling a lot better.
(My spiritual muscles are getting beefed up… it’s getting easier to tell Aniexty where to go…)
In fact, this is me: Away for the day from my son (because the crazy thing that happens with anxiety is that you can worry that only you are equipped to care for a certain person or people group…) and I am HAPPY. I’m in a cafe, with a chai-non-dairy-latte in a totally gorgeous town ALL BY MYSELF. Happy. Not worried. Happy.
Here is my favourite musical version of Psalm 3 if you need to sing it daily like I do: