I’ve been living a lie.
I write and blog, even published a devotional, about how God is working on my life…all while secretly still battling anxiety and difficult moments. But I have been trying to work on this, it’s just that my change is not progressing as quickly as I would like.
I spent all last week fighting bouts of anxiety as I knew that my church’s annual cookout would be approaching on Sunday (July 30th). Let me just say this: I love my church family. In many ways, their prayers have saved my life. However, I still get anxious when social activities are approaching. I can’t explain why but it just takes days of inactivity for me to prepare for a day of activity. But knowing that I did want to attend the cookout, I prayed a special prayer on Saturday night, asking the Lord to have His way. Next thing I knew, it was Sunday morning, the sun was shining (it had rained much of the week) and I woke up before my alarm clock. God was really making it hard for me to come up with an excuse not to fellowship with my church family.
So I got up on Sunday morning and journeyed to church. Service was amazing! Not only did the sermon reaffirm a previous conversation that I had with God, it also continued a thought from my blog last week. God was steadily telling me that fear and faith cannot coexist. He was reminding me that I have to pick either worry or worship.
So I chose worship.
At the end of service I laid my burdens at the altar and decided to do something different- I decided not to go home for a nap. Instead I decided to hang out with one of my line sisters as we ventured to visit another sister. The trip, though longer than I originally anticipated, was a blessing and a gift from God. After the visit, I dropped off my line sister and scooped up my niece so that we could attend the cookout.
Ok, here’s the big moment…
As I walked into the facility, I realized that my anxiety, as usual, was unnecessary. Not only did I have a wonderful time, but my niece had a ball! My church family outdid themselves! They went out of their way to cater to my vegan palette and they found a church shirt for my niece to wear so that she could feel like apart of the family. My HCFC family is the BEST!!! That is not up for discussion. *Smile*
After all was said and done, I realized that my anxiety was unwarranted and that when I just leave it to God, He will make everything right.
Monday means Rest…
Despite how much fun I had had on Sunday, I decided to spend Monday relaxing. Cookouts involve grass and my allergies do not support that theory. That combined with the sun and the driving from Sunday, I knew that I wanted to sleep Monday away. So when my line sister asked me out to a movie premiere, my initial thought was “Nah sis, I have sleep to find.” But instead, I agreed to go. Mentally I ran through my list of typical excuses as to why I couldn’t attend but I knew that the only way to overcome my social anxieties was to get out and be social.
Although we left a bit late, I was still happy about the trip. We drove to the metro station and hopped aboard the train to DC. We chatted the entire time but just as we were about to get off, I scratched my nose and my 6.5 month old nose ring slid out.
I was in full panic mode at this time! I held the ring in between my fingers and tried to slide it back in but it would not go all the way through. When the train doors opened, I practically ran up the escalator, up the elevator, and out of the station in the hopes of finding the nearest bathroom. When I found one, I hovered over the sink and frantically tried to put the nose ring back in its rightful place but it still wasn’t budging. I was sweating and shaking, as my line sister tried to offer her help. She looked up tattoo parlors nearby so that they could replace the nose ring and Googled how to replace the nose ring. Instead, I picked up my phone and called Amy (my best friend) and tried to get her to help. After many failed attempts (and finally listening to Amy and my line sister), I asked my line sister for her help. I had initially declined her help because I was afraid that she would make matters worse… and because I wanted to be in control of the situation. It only took her two or three times, but she was able to put the nose ring back in my nose. When she had finished, I wiped my tears, sweat, and blood from my face and began cleaning up the area. I then thanked Amy and my line sister for their help. We ended up missing the window for the movie (but it wasn’t my fault; the “first come, first serve” seats were gone long before we had arrived in DC) so we went for dinner instead. As soon as we sat down, my line sister asked the question that I knew was on her mind: what happened back in the bathroom?
On the one hand, I was upset at the possibility of having to pay for my nose to be re-pierced. But the truth is, I was thinking “this wouldn’t have happened if I had stayed home.” In fact, that was the first thing I thought when the nose ring had come out while I was on the train.
Realizing my problem….
I have 24 line sisters (shortest explanation: women who joined the same sorority, at the same time, from the same chapter) but this is the line sister who invites me out the most….she is also the one whose invitations I decline the most because I avoid social activities.
I always say no, but this time I said yes….and my nose ring came out. In my mind, I was ready to write off future events for fear of something bad happening but in a split second, I decided not to let fear and worry win.
I think I justified my anxiety by saying that it wasn’t the same as fear or worry, but the truth is, it’s exactly the same. My anxiety was simply my fear of what others would say about me wherever I went, combined with worry that something would go wrong. I mistakingly thought that when God began healing me from my hurt, that He had healed me from anxiety. Turns out, those were two separate things.
I don’t have my life all together but I have decided on one thing: I will seek the kingdom of God and His righteousness (Matthew 6:33), while He handles everything else. That’s all I can do. I have literally spent my entire life trying to do things the way society tells me it “should” be done. I focused so much on the opinions of others that I lost my voice and my uniqueness in the mix. Little did I know, but God didn’t create me to be like the world. He didn’t create me in the world’s image, He created me in His image.
Worry, anxiety, fear, and doubt are emotions that we have all experienced but they are NOT natural.
Read Matthew 6:24-34.
With the slip of a nose ring, I was reminded of two things:
1. Life will not be perfect, but we cannot allow fear and worry to consume us.
2. Accept help when it is offered and don’t try to control everything.
In my case, if I would have allowed my line sister to help me from the beginning, I could have saved minutes of pain, sweat, tears, and blood. However, relinquishing control is hard for me- but I am learning.
My advice to you is this: relinquish control and ditch fear. Replace control with trust and fear with faith. While your situation may not involve a nose ring, I’m sure there was a moment in your life when you unleashed blood, sweat, and tears to ensure the solo success of something that could have been easily done with the help of others. I know, it’s hard to ask for help and it’s hard to share your load- but we have to.
(As I look in the mirror, I say this to us both): Give it all over to God, beloved. Seek Him and His righteousness and watch how He works things out.