Monday, August 10, 2015

Search Me

Yup.  I always look this fabulous when I'm
contemplative;-P
I worry a lot.

Sometimes it gets pretty bad, actually.  I'm sure most of you know the feeling--when you're having a miniature panic attack, and your scalp and ears start tingling with heat, and your stomach is roiling around, and you feel sure you're either going to vomit or fly apart at the seams in a matter of moments.

Now, thankfully, it's rare that I have panic attacks.  Often I fret about things that aren't truly that momentously significant, so I'm usually able to repress anxiety when it comes, at least to the point that it doesn't hinder me physically.  Spiritually, however, it's a different matter.

You see, I pick at myself, like most girls my age, and I pick at a lot of different aspects of myself--physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually, etc.

I worry over whether I'm too self-absorbed (which I probably am).

I worry over whether I don't have enough faith because I do still have questions (which is slightly ridiculous).

I worry over whether I idolize stories (which I might).

I worry over whether I am making any difference in the world for the better (which I hope I am).

I worry over whether I'm not "sold out of Jesus" enough (which is most likely true).

And then I worry over whether these failings have caused God to cease loving me (which is not true).

I think that since I am not as passionate about my faith yet as I probably should be, I am an utter failure and that God looks at me with disappointment in His eyes and heaves a deep sigh of "Oh, wow.  I've gotta go deal with her now."  All these doubts and fears and insecurities swirl around and around and kick up a choking cloud of anxiety, which works itself into a tightly-wound knot in my heart, preventing me from moving forward in my walk with the Lord, and preventing me from experiencing the "peace that transcends all understanding."  


But.  Then God will slowly, faithfully begin to unravel the cords in that knot, releasing my heart from that stagnating pressure and revealing to me, whether through the words of another person, the lyrics in a song, a quote from a book or movie, or a passage of Scripture, that He's got me.  And what's more, He has every intention of holding onto me in spite of my flaws.  

One such instance was occurring a couple days ago.  I had worked myself up into a miserable mess, and then I started reading Psalm 139.  Several verses stood out to me, and I'll talk about them in a minute, but what finally initiated a glorious release of stress was when I read the final two verses.  I'd read these several times before, but that moment, they grabbed hold of me with a simple truth and a simple petition:

"Search me, O God, and know my
heart;
test me and know my anxious
thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way 
in me, 
and lead me in the way everlasting."

It was really quite something; all of a sudden I was liberated.  This could be my prayer.  I certainly do not "have it all together" when it comes to relationship with Christ, but, I realized, that's okay.  Sanctification is a lifelong process, from what I've read, heard, been told, can see in the Bible.  God says that He will "carry [His work in us] on until the day of Christ Jesus."  We can relax, people.  That doesn't mean we don't have to continue to work out our salvation, goodness no, but it's okay to not be perfect right now.  I've decided that, when worries come and guilt attacks me for my weaknesses, I will strive to more often 1) repent, ask God for His forgiveness, and believe He has granted it when I do mess up, and 2) pray those verses when I'm not sure whether I'm living in wrong patterns.  "See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting…"  I believe He will!


Another aspect of anxiety that often threatens to overwhelm me is the uncontrollably downward slope on which this world seems to be.  The news (which I make a point of not ingesting too often, in an attempt to prevent said anxiety attacks)  continues to tell us nothing but bad news.  Terrorist groups are apparently still very much alive and kicking; horrendous persecution is being practiced on the people in the Middle East; our world is crumbling and our nation refuses to turn to God, and I just want to flee into the Withywindle Valley and hang out with Tom Bombadil and Goldberry and shut out the world's chaos and terror (which really wouldn't work, because Tom and Goldberry don't shut out the world in the first place).  In many ways, it seems that the end times are upon us, and frankly, I feel like Frodo.  "I wish it had not happened in my time."  (Whereupon I must remember Gandalf's blessed response to that!)  

I torture myself by entertaining countless what-ifs and whys and worst-case scenarios and what-if-I-do-such-and-such to "escape" from the madness?  Psalm 139 again. 

"If I say, 'Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,'
even the darkness will not be dark to You;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to You."

I talked a little more about these subjects in another post, but the main thing I have to remember is that God really is in control.   In the end, He will create new heavens and a new earth, and He promises that what we endured in this lifetime, whatever it might be, will not be remembered.  So it really will be okay, whatever happens, won't it?

It's important for you guys to remember this, people, whenever the awful stuff that can and does happen in this world is dragging you into a swamp of fear and despair:

the darkness
that is
does not make
the light
that is
any less

(Okay.  I am so rambling, it's not even funny.  But "stay with me, I'm tryin' to make a point.")  

Be happy and think on beautiful things, like fairies
and twilit woods and quiet streams and
Lord of the Rings and whatever floats
your boat.
Anyway.  All this was to say, God is faithful, y'all.  I freak out a lot, and vent to my poor, patient mother all the time, and I don't turn to Him as often or in as much faith as I should, but the Lord
is faithful.   He  keeps lovingly prying me away from  my desperate worry and reminding  me to "not be anxious about anything,  but in everything, by prayer and  petition, with thanksgiving, present [my] requests to [Him]."  And God loves you in spite of your quirks.  He created you, and He already knows all your predispositions and your strengths and your weaknesses.  Psalm 139 says that He is "familiar with all [our] ways."  And you know what?  He still loves you.  And He still loves me.  And that, my dear patient readers, is enough.  It is enough to conquer the anxiety, whatever it may be about.  It is enough to conquer the insecurity.  It is enough to conquer the doubt.  

"O Lord, you have searched me
and You know me.
You know when I sit and when I 
rise;
You perceive my thoughts
from afar."

(May I just say, if you read all the way to the end of this spiel, kudos to you!)

26 comments:

  1. God is faithful! Amen! Keep encouraged! :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. I loved reading this! I have my own anxieties and this encourages me. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm so glad, Lois! Thank you for reading:D

      Delete
  3. Wow Olivia thanks. I struggle with a lot of the same things and this post was really encouraging. Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're so welcome, Erudessa! (Is it okay if I call you Bailey? I wasn't sure since you've changed your username:D) I'm so happy it encouraged you:)

      Delete
    2. Oh yeah! You can call me Bailey!! it is a lot easier to type then Erudessa!! :)

      Delete
    3. Haha, thanks! It kinda is;)

      Delete
  4. This was so uplifting. I can relate to practically everything you said in that post. Those verses are extremely powerful. Thanks for sharing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm so blessed it touched you, Laura! I agree; those verses are wonderful, no? Praise God:)

      Delete
  5. Oh, Olivia. This post! Your openness and honesty is so encouraging. I'm a worrier, too. And I can totally relate to just about every particular worry you mentioned. The one that really stood out to me, though, was the one about idolizing stories. That hasn't been as hard for me in recent years, but that was something I definitely struggled with at one time. I would be so enthralled with a certain movie that it would be on my mind all the time and I would worry that it was becoming an idol. Or I would worry that writing stories was too important to me and too all consuming and...you know, anything else I could come up with. Worry is so paralyzing. And it really gets you nowhere. I know for myself I've gone in constant circles trying to figure out whether the thing I was doing was wrong or not, whether I truly loved God, whether this, whether that. I'm a very analytical person so I tend to over-analyze things. But really, all we can do is put our trust in God, ask Him to lead us, and then believe that He will show us when we're off track.

    Psalm 19:12 "Who can discern his errors? Acquit me of hidden faults." We can't always know whether we're doing something wrong...but God knows. And I'm certain He will not allow us to continue on a wrong path when our hearts are wanting to do what's right.

    About the downward spiral of our world. Oh my, yes! I can only handle so much of the news before it thoroughly depresses me. The verse you included from Psalm 139 is so spot on, though. It's true. No matter how dark it gets the hope that we have in Christ is as bright and shining and strong as it was 2000 years ago. That never lessens. The good thing about the state of our country is that it is bound to make us Christian's decide where we stand and be a better witness for Christ. We've lived so comfortably, for so long, that sometimes I don't think we realize how vastly important the message of salvation is to this world. And what a great mission we have to share that truth with the people around us.

    This was a lovely post, Olivia. You're right. God knows all our strengths and weaknesses! And He knows exactly what we need in order to make us the people He intends for us to be. Philippians 1:6 "For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus." It's so wonderful to be able to rest in His love and to know that He sees the end from the beginning. He's got this little tiny world in the palm of His hand, and no amount of bad news can ever surprise Him.

    Sorry, this was so long winded. I hope I didn't get too preachy or anything. I just read this post and was like "Oh! I need to write and tell her that she's not alone when it comes to worrying!" :) Thank you for being so honest, Olivia. This was a really good post.

    ~Miss March

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Miss March, thank you!!! Your comment was really encouraging; it wasn't too long-winded or preachy at all! I so appreciate all of you letting me know that I'm not alone in all this:)

      Yes! The idolatry thing has been a big issue in my life for a long while. And it's just like you described it--paralyzing and circular. Really not productive at all. Yes, we have to just trust God to lead us--in the end, that's all we can do. It's so encouraging to know that someone else has been through that struggle before! So thank you for sharing that with me.

      Absolutely--it makes me scared and despairing, so, like you said, I can only handle so much. And you're right--we are so used to our life of comfort and ease that we've forgotten that Jesus never promised us freedom from persecution in this life, He just promised us hope and grace to endure. A quote about that issue struck me recently when I read it: "The typical Christian lives in a developing country, speaks a non-European language, and exists under the constant threat of persecution--of murder, imprisonment, torture, or rape." (David Neff) Our lives are privileges, not guaranteed rights. Thank you for reminding me!

      "He's got this tiny little world in the palm of His hand, and no amount of bad news can ever surprise Him." Amen to that!

      Thank you so much for your long comment! And thanks, I'm glad you liked the post!

      Delete
  6. Lovely and uplifting post Olivia!

    ReplyDelete
  7. I really like this.

    My dad(who happens to be a pastor) was preaching Sunday on a similar topic and I was thinking about the pagan reaction to bad things: "How can there be a God if He lets so many bad things happen?". I too get discouraged listening to current events and it's encouraging to remember that God is in control of everything. I hear that all the time, but I don't always apply it to my reactions of various issues. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm glad, Meredith!:)

      Exactly. It's definitely hard to hang into faith sometimes, and we're just hearing about these awful things. When you think about how others are living them and still holding fast...wow. I know how you feel; it's important to remember God's power, but I don't as often as I should:-/

      Thank you for your comment!:)

      Delete
  8. Wow, Olivia, this is such a great post. Really. It is.

    I know exactly what you mean about anxiety--I've struggled a LOT with that over my lifetime, but it's getting easier to deal with now that I'm out of my teens :) It DOES get better, trust me.

    Have you ever read Julian of Norwich (I think that's how you spell her name)? She was an English mystic from the 1200s or so, and she wrote some lovely meditations about trusting God. She's famous for saying "All shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well." For some reason, that quote just SPEAKS to me and I really, really love it. Someday I think I'm going to name one of my daughters "Julian" after her :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much, Jessica! I really appreciate it.

      Oh, good! I'm glad it gets better:D

      I don't think I've ever read her, but I do believe I've heard of her. That is a wonderful quote!!! I'll have to look her up:D And I think that's an awesome idea, naming your daughter after her;)

      Delete
  9. This was a very thought provoking post, thanks!
    ~Patricia Ellen

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're so welcome, Patricia! Thanks a bunch for reading:)

      Delete
  10. Wow!!! That was beautifully written... And I can relate to a lot of what you just wrote about. I get worked up easily to, and then so many times, the Lord just calms you down again, be it with a book, or song, or moms, or whatever.

    Thanks so much for sharing this with us; and let me tell you, you are not alone!

    -Abby

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks so much, Abby! It's so encouraging to know that others understand:)

      Delete
  11. Oh, Olivia, Olivia!!!

    Your openness is so encouraging. I feel so much of what you're saying here-- I get bogged down with worry SO often as well. I'm a worrier by nature. I worry about how I'm going to do everything I want to do, I worry about what will happen to me and my family, I worry about all the bad things that could happen...but God says, Do Not Worry. Sometimes that's just soooooo hard to grasp!

    I hate listening to current news too, because it's almost alllllways bad. I get really depressed, and then I feel bad because I'm not trusting God as much as I should be, which brings about the thought that, *gasp*, what if God's disappointed in me for being so weak? But that's NOT true. He knows we're weak, and He gave everything to help us. He's got me in the palm of His hand. So I'm learning more and more to lean on Him...but still, it's hard. I think it's important that we encourage each other.

    I often feel like that too -- "I wish it had not happened in my time." I wish I'd been born in the 19th century, so I could grow up when life was simpler, and I wouldn't have to be here for all this! But, I have to remember: God must want me here and now for a reason. He knows what He's doing.

    Reading this, I know it came straight from your heart. I so appreciate that, Olivia. :-) I needed this. So thank you!

    ~Emma

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Emma! It is definitely so hard to just obey that simple command of "Don't worry."

      Exactly--I feel like my depression is a sign of a lack of trust in God, and I need to remember that He knows our weaknesses, like you said. It's wonderful when we can start to see ourselves slowly learning to just rest in the Lord, isn't it? Yep, it's definitely important that we build each other up.

      I often think I should have been born in the 19th century, too! But yes, then I have to remind myself: God Has His Reasons:)

      Thanks you so much, Emma!:)

      Delete
  12. Oh my! Olivia, this was such a beautiful post. You're showing us your real, raw flaws and struggles. Good for you!! And that you recognize them and are striving to conquer them through Jesus. I can relate to a lot that you mentioned in this post. Worry and questions and doubts can easily take over me too. But the verses you cited are amaaazzing. I need to write them down now. :)
    God is definitely faithful. Thank you for sharing your heart with us! I will keep you in my prayers, friend!

    ps. As you know, I'm reading The Two Towers right now, so it was great to be able to understand and relate to your LOTR references. ;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much, Natalie! It is such a blessing to know that my bloggie buddies can relate!:D And I so appreciate your prayers. Thank you so much!

      Aaaaack, yes! I can't tell you how happy it makes me that you're reading and enjoying LotR! Like, you don't even know;D

      Delete

It appears that you're about to leave a comment. I think you should know that if you do, I will giggle and smile and be delirious with joy, and then I'll stalk you to find out whether or not you have a blog *ahem*.

…All that's to say, please comment! :D