The Distractions of Anxiety and Self-Doubt

I love things to run smoothly. I like life to fit in the tiny boxes on my calendar, for schedule activities to always take "x" amount of time, and for the weather to cooperate with my plans.

I love meeting agendas, productivity, grocery lists where things don't get left off. I love it when people respond to my emails in timely manners and when I don't forget to do the same.

I love order. I abhor chaos. I love calm and I don't function well in a frenzy.

I know many of you who are just like me and many of you who are not. But no matter how you're built, no matter what your personality leans towards, I think we all long for peace—a deep inner peace that is not contingent on the outside circumstances. A peace that is so embedded in us that we function like a mighty oak in a storm. Our leaves and branches will for sure sway, but our trunk, our foundation, is so deeply planted that we will never forget who we are and Whose we are.

I've been working hard with Jesus lately to practice this rooted way of living. My deepest desire is that when people interact with me I will no longer be the whirlwind of things to do, errands to run, and a plethora of needs and wants. I want to exude the same kind of atmosphere that my living room does—fresh, inviting, cozy, and safe.

If I'm continually distracted from what God has asked me to do, if I'm filling my life with tasks because I'm trying to prove worth, and if my state of mind is contingent on things going exactly as planned, I will not be safe. I will not be fresh. I will not be inviting. 

On Sunday morning, I checked the weather when I woke up. I had spent the night pleading with God to please push off the rain one more day, asking for Tuesday to be bright and sunny. Why? Because I have spent six months planning an outdoor event for National Night Out for our neighborhood where we're expecting 400-500 people.

It's been a lot of work. Fun, but a lot of work.

The forecast hadn't budged. The number "90%" still stuck itself under "Tuesday." 

I could feel the distraction of anxiety welling up—a feeling like all those little roots that had just started forming, laying so vulnerable, Satan coming by and just lifting them up, one by one, the tiny little root hairs crackling as they loosened from the soil.

Running frantically through my mind were all the people I had to call/email/contact/message. Trying to remember what contracts said about weather changes and cancellations and were there rescheduling fees? And what about the signs and the banners that would now display the wrong date? And date? What should the new date be? And why hasn't the police department made an executive decision and let us know? And finally, "GOD, DO YOU UNDERSTAND THIS IS A BIG HASSLE THAT I DID NOT PLAN ON? DON'T YOU KNOW I NEEDED THIS EVENT TO BE OVER SO I COULD FOCUS ON OTHER THINGS?"

And then came the distraction of self-doubt: It's only Sunday and the weather could change. Am I not having faith that God will answer my prayer if I reschedule this? Where is the line between responsibility and not trusting?

I sat down, aware of my uprootedness and desperately trying to get a handle on my emotions. At my kitchen table on Sunday morning I opened my new devotional, He Holds My Hand by Carol Kent, and this is what I read:

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At that moment, I realized that trusting God wasn't about the weather at all. It was about knowing that no matter what the weather outcome, no matter what amount of work that lay ahead, I could trust Him to be there with me, that I would be able to work through His Presence. This wasn't about taking on more work, but about continuing the work we had already started together. God knew about this wrench from the beginning. So this, this, was about embracing whatever wrench and knowing that He is for me, that He is for community, that He has a plan and purpose and He loves it when people gather to share and show kindness and have fun. This National Night Out party isn't just important to me—it is important to Him.

All we do is important to Him because He loves us. I have a tendency to just ask for help on the things I think I can't do. How much more would the distractions of anxiety and self-doubt minimize themselves when I become dependent on God for all things? What if this wasn't even about what I can/cannot do alone and more about intentionally developing the practice of asking God into every facet of my life? How would my attitude change? How would this make even more space for peace and trust?

I got up from the table, the full Sunday before me unblemished. Was there work ahead? Yes. Was there anything I could do right then on that day? No. It would all wait until Monday morning. And I was free to enjoy the day, intentionally pressing into trust and taking captive thoughts that would lead me down the path to anxiety. 

And guess what? Monday morning came and I emailed everyone. It's all good. It's going to be a great event. More people can come on the new date. I have four new sponsors and more raffle prizes. I've given people more time to shop for donations for our Hurricane Harvey relief effort. 

It's all good. Why? Because God is good. All the time, no matter the weather, the situation, the results. God is good all the time, even if the world is not.