I couldn't stop looking at his ankles. Scrutinizing. Wondering if they were slightly bigger or slightly smaller. Was the edema coming back with a vengeance like it did in January? Were his protein levels elevated? Or was this because of something else? Because, we are finding, autoimmune diseases can be quite the puzzle. We began going over everything: exercise, nutrition, weight, water intake. And with everything, I kept scrutinizing. Wondering. Looking.
I have a high need for security, for stability. I cannot stand it when something is broken—mechanical or human. I often feel restless, driven to put out fires and solve problems and search for resolutions, thinking that if I can just get everything just so, then I can breathe. Then, I can feel safe.
The other day in my Bible study, I made a "cares map." I wrote the word "cares" in the middle and made a web of all the different ones I had, things I wanted God to fix, to take away, to heal. Things that were outside my control, but which ruled my thoughts nonetheless. Craig's health? The biggest box on the page. But also thinking to myself, if I could get some of these other things off my plate, I'd have more capacity to deal with that.
If You could just take care of these, then...
If I knew how these would be resolved, then...
If You could just give me provision for this, then...
My list was long. A web, but not a beautiful one spun for a home, but spun up with anxiety. And as the days went on, God brought some things to a resolution. I joyfully checked these things off the list, finding gratitude and relief.
Until I had a different one with which to replace it. And then another one.
And that's when I saw what was really happening. In my search for stability and control, in my false belief that in order to have security, everything had to be in alignment, I found that in trying to contain the chaos outside of me, I just made more inside of me.
It's like I had an assortment of rocks and I tried to build them into a tower. With everything just so, I could manage it. I could keep it together, keep tabs on it, keep it from toppling. Until one more rock caused it all to fall. And at that moment, I had a choice:
I could find my resolve in the chaos or I could resign to the chaos.
I could give into trusting God or I could give up.
Be resolved or resigned. My choice.
Be resolved in my belief that God loves me. He is for me. I can rest in Him. Life will have hardship and suffering, but they are not without purpose or provision. He will grow me and lead me. I am not alone in this.
Be resigned—Woe-is-me. Life will always be hard. These things inhibit my ability to experience joy. Nothing will get better. Why try anymore? I am abandoned and will live afraid.
I think back on the past week and do you know what I love? I love how God listened to my lamenting. He saw my hand-wringing. He listened to my complaint. Just like He did with David in Psalm 55.
He did not minimize.
He did not tell me to get my sh** together.
He did not criticize.
He just let me be me—knowing I had to wrestle it out with Him, write and journal and read and stomp my feet like a little kid. Throw some fits. Find peace and then a few hours later, flare with anxiety, and then find peace again.
Just knowing I don't have to pretend with Him, there's peace in that.
Just knowing I don't have to get it right all the time, there's peace in that.
I love this quote from my current Bible study, This I Know:
One would think that I would have learned by now not to worry, not to have anxiety, not to control. And with many things I have, for sure. But I will confess, that when it comes to the health of my husband, my kids, my marriage, and my finances, I still struggle sometimes.
But this week, I've learned that my greatest weakness is my strength—my belief that I can do it. That I don't need God or people. Give me enough time and energy and I will figure it out.
But the very real truth is I am desperately in need of Him and to live any differently would be to a facade.
So, for you, friends, those who are riddled with anxiety and then feel shame for being anxious, I just want to remind you that He sees you. He looks at you with love and compassion in His eyes. He never expects perfection, for if it were possible, there would have been no need to send His Son.
We all need a Savior and as we ponder the upcoming Good Friday, it's good to take in just how frail and fallible we are so that we can truly appreciate the incredible strength with which He fills us, the incredible kindness He has extended to us, and the love that truly is the greatest gift.