From Anxiety to Anticipation

Published on 10 August 2023 at 20:57

Apprehensiveness, concern, uncertainty, discomfort, nervousness, dread.

Anxiety is relentless and debilitating. It will permeate every crack and crevice in your life until it extinguishes any glimmers of hope or peace. If our life experiences are the avenue on which the enemy chases after us, anxiety is a favorite vehicle of choice. 

I'm aware of how foreboding this sounds, but it is an honest experience of so many women that does not have to stay hidden in the shadows. Add in the stresses of being a mother and/or wife, and our anxiety now seems to grow branches that reach into every individual area of our lives. Your work schedule does not come together like you anticipated, with less or inconvenient hours. Your husband comes home from work quiet and reserved, and immediately you think, "If he's not happy, I must not be doing my job as his supporter and helpmate". Your little one wakes up earlier than usual and that throws a wrench in EVERYBODY's mood for the rest of the day.  And so on and so forth until your mind whirls in a cyclone of hypotheticals, untruths, and assumptions. But do we say anything? Probably not. This is the burden we bear, and we call ourselves strong for bearing it. When, in fact, the more efforts we take to hide these struggles, the stronger the grip Satan gains over us. We can't allow healing works to begin if we refuse to fling that door in our heart wide open. Now let me tell something Satan absolutely does not want us to know.

Anxiety is receptive to healing.

It is not an irreversible or incurable ailment that we must condition ourselves to live with. It is a symptom of broken humanity and sin, and God has already delivered the cure before we could even experience anxiety for ourselves, by sending Jesus to defeat the grips of dread for us. For the past 2 years or so, Jesus has been working OVERTIME to free me from this anxiety that began to plague my physical health, marital health, and mental health. So, if you are ready to get down and dirty into those not so pretty places we Christian women like to conceal for fear of being found out as flawed, then I invite you to open up those heart spaces of your own, and in Jesus' name, let the sanctification begin.

Let's lighten it up a bit. The other day at lunch time, my ketchup obsessed son had the bottle ready and alert at the table. Now, right now we are in the "do it myself" phase, so when he decided he wanted to squirt the ketchup onto his plate, I decided to sit back and see what happens. What I didn't realize was that there was a small clog in the bottle, and so as hard as he tried, nothing came out. Curiosity peaked, and so he lifts the bottle to his face to study the issue, and what do you know, on the next squeeze the clog burst, and my son is now moisturizing his face with ketchup (it was reduced sugar, so does that help?) I share this story because this is a humorous parallel to my not so humorous coping strategies with anxiety. Keep it bottled up, until you try and try to work through it because you notice it interfering with your life, and eventually the entirety of weeks or months of worry explode. 

It had been at least 2-3 months of constant worry and succumbing to the enemy invading my thoughts. And I'll tell you, nothing is more deflating than waking up multiple times a night to find your babies sound asleep, but you were woken by spiritual attack and frantic thought patterns, and now that sleep is gone. Your rest is gone. Your mental strength is gone, and so goes the snowball. But it was toward the end of this period of time that I learned what it meant to completely trust and surrender circumstances to the Lord. And most importantly, He enlightened me to the power of remembering. 

When the Israelites crossed the Jordan river, the Lord commanded them to lay 12 stones of remembrance to serve as a memorial. As a reminder to future generations of the miracle God performed and how he cared for his people in seemingly impossible circumstances. There is a reason the Word of God is alive, because the Lord's promise that was true for the Israelites thousands of years ago is the same promise true for us now. When we take the time to reflect and remember what the Lord has already done in our lives, it is much harder to worry for the future. The Holy Spirit works within to give us an eternal perspective. Our worry over the future becomes eagerness to watch a plan unfold. Our anxiety becomes an anticipation to see what God will do next. Once this perspective shift takes place, it is much more difficult to stay in a place of worry. 

Our anxiety becomes an anticipation

to see what God will do next.

I love how the New Living Translation states Philippians 4: 6-7.

"Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all he has done. Then you will experience God's peace, which exceeds anything we can understand."

There is so much to unpack here. First of all, I believe this verse not only gives us a command by God, but also gives us a practical application of HOW to fulfill that command. The command, not to be anxious or worry, is pretty straightforward, but it's almost laughable. Easier said than done right? But if we keep reading, God does not leave us out to hang. He specifically tells us HOW not to worry. Pray, tell God what you need, and THANK HIM for what He has done. God is telling us, as long as you remember what I have done for you, you have no need to worry over the future. We could stop here and say, "This is great for me. I can already feel the weight lift from my shoulders". But God does not want us to keep this for ourselves. As with any spirit work, He says there should be fruit that shows in your life. What does this fruit look like? 

"Then you will experience God's peace, which exceeds anything we can understand."

When the world is spiraling around us, we will stand in the calm of the storm, steady on our feet, unwavering in the wind. This will seem unexplainable to those of this world, and there is the fruit evidence of the Holy Spirit moving in a world that rejects Him. There was a life event that I was discussing with my husband; the kind of event that otherwise would have sent me tumbling down into fear, had it not been for the Holy Spirit calling me to remember, and maintain that eternal perspective of God's timeline, and not my own. At one point, my husband looked at me and asked with a look of perplexity, "are you not at all worried?". And I simply answered, "Actually no, I'm not!". It was a triumphant moment where I knew the Lord had won and Satan had tried to show up in my life but was sent away defeated.

These are the triumphs that I hope for you. This is the incomprehensible peace that God desires for you, his beloved. My prayer is that we would consider all the time and energy we spend creating hypotheticals about the future and redirect by spending that same time remembering all the rivers our Father has carried us through in the past.

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