Tag Archives: anxiety

It’s Got Me Shaking in My Boots

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polka_dot_rainboots_by_kspatula

As I mentioned before, I’ve been working on some Bible study lessons for an upcoming women’s study called Interruptions of the Heart (Jesus’ interactions with women). I forgot to mention that not only did I write part of the study, but I will be presenting a lesson for each of my 3 women. Can I just tell you how I feel about this?

EEEEEEEEeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeEEEEEEEEEEEKKKKKKKkkkk!

While I am definitely excited, I’m also decidedly nervous. I have been known to hold my own at a microphone, but I can get a wild hair, making my talks take a turn for the awkward. I would not exactly describe myself as poised. I get off topic too easily and then get flustered, leaving no escape for myself other than to ramble on and on until I can wrap it up in a crinkly bow.

Top that off with the fact that I can’t tell a story to save my life, and you’re in for a real interesting ride! I have this (annoying) habit of needing to tell every detail in the story, leaving my listeners tilting their heads with furrowed brows wondering when I’m going to get to my point. Charming, I’m sure. (My sister tells me it’s endearing, but I personally think it’s because she does it too! hehe)

Obviously I’ve been thinking about these quirky weaknesses of mine as I’ve been writing out my lessons, and this makes me even more nervous. What is more, I’ve learned enough about teaching God’s word to know that one must never take this task lightly. And this makes me tremble in my cute polka dot rain boots way more than the thought of displaying my awkwardness before these ladies.

However, at the end of the day, I find great consolation in the fact that none of this is about me anyway. I get it that God has given me certain gifts that will be used to edify His Church. But this little stone does not get the spotlight. No, it’s always Him. He’s the One who gives the gifts. He’s the One who picks up each little stone and sets her in her place to do the thing He’s designed her to do.

So off I go to teach the Word, praying earnestly for wisdom to know how to do it. And thank God that His Word can get inside of these ladies despite my peculiarities. They must know that every word has been carefully scrutinized, every thought initially well-formed, and every intention well meaning.

I’m so thankful that His Word is alive and active. So even if my thoughts become jumbled or my words lose their way, His Word does not return void (Isaiah 55:11)! He accomplishes what He purposes.

Lord, I may be shaking, but I’m steadfast in spirit. Teach me Your Word that I may know You. Help me to teach Your Word so that they may know You.  

I’ve Got This Sinking Feeling

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BOAT ON THE SEA

But seeing the wind, he became afraid, and beginning to sink, he cried out, saying, ‘Lord, save me!’ Matthew 14:30

I know I am weak. Weak-hearted. Weak-minded. Weak-bodied. Oh, I’m sure I have my moments of strength just like everyone else, but I’m mostly just weak. Sometimes I’m okay with this. Other times, I get super frustrated (this is what I say to my kids so they’ll understand that I’m REALLY frustrated and not mad).

I get easily discouraged at times. This usually happens when things aren’t going my way, and though these times aren’t frequent, it’s enough to make me wilt. For example, when I play tennis, I don’t try as hard and my resolve to win weakens when I’m not hitting my shots well (and this happens to be quite frequent). Any great tennis player has learned that you not only need to be physically fit, but you also have to be mentally fit. You’ve got to learn to deal with the ups and downs. And though you have a perfect game as far as shots are concerned, you could still lose the whole match because you crumble under pressure. Weak-minded.

Then there are those times when I start my day with a cup of spilled coffee all over my workbook and with a child that is bent on doing anything opposite from what I say. Every moment after that seems to be one wrong turn after another. My spirit weakens. My lip quivers. I’m already throwing in the towel for the day. Weak-hearted.

I’ve got my eyes on the waves instead of on the One who called me out onto the waters (something which, like Peter, I requested of Him).

I wish I could be more consistently focused on Him in these fragile moments. I don’t want to be of little faith (Matthew 14:31), “incredulous, lacking confidence — in Christ” (from Strong’s). Trusting in the “Son of God” (v. 33) is truly a moment by moment choice. Jesus asks Peter why he doubted, and because I know my Jesus is not one who shames us, I think He asked it because He wanted to encourage Peter to trust Him. Jesus encourages us to have faith in Him because He is faithful. He is completely capable. It’s implicit in His question that He can be trusted. And why? Because His heart is good.

I would like to say that my struggle is not in trusting Him because I know with all my heart that He can be trusted. I like to think that my struggle is a problem of letting go and surrendering to Him. I always want to try to do it myself. But this is exactly a problem of faith. The problem is, I think that I can handle the situation better than Him. Well, that’s still an issue of questioning whether He can be trusted with the things of this life. He is more than able.

In those moments of panic and anxiety, I want to fix my eyes on the Author and Perfecter of my FAITH who can always and will always strengthen my faith in Him when I call out to Him (Hebrews 12:2). May I throw off every hindrance, and run the race set before me (Hebrews 12:1), intent on trusting Him during the moments of weakness. I think I’ll find that the weak moments get fewer because in my weakness, His power is made perfect (2 Corinthians 12:9). I can face the day knowing that I’m an overcomer and not defeated by the things of the world.

I’ll be able to stare hard at the waves and watch them shrink as I step into the boat with my Savior. All glory to Him.

The Day I Knew Ashleyland Didn’t Exist…

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I know you’ve done it too.

Please tell me you’ve done it too. Because then maybe I won’t seem so crazy.

Creating scenarios of how things might be is unfortunately a large part of my thought life. “When we move into our house then…” “When the baby comes then…” “When my husband starts his classes again then…”

Sometimes the part after the “then” is pleasant, like a daydream. “When we move into our house, then I’ll feel more settled here.” But most times, it’s not so pleasant. “When the baby comes then I’ll be getting no sleep at all. Plus, my youngest will become the middle child, and he already plays that part all too well.” “When my husband starts his classes again then I’ll be a complete wreck trying to do this parenting thing at night by myself.”

It’s as if I’m constructing my own little world all in the comfort of my own mind. Ashleyland. Yeah, that sounds pretty ridiculous.

Life gets interesting when the scenario doesn’t quite play out like I’d imagined. Who am I kidding? It rarely turns out like I imagine! And most of the time, it’s a very good thing.

Jesus speaks to this issue and calls it by name – Worry. Well, that’s the unpleasant side of it anyway.

31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. 34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. Matthew 6:31-34

The pleasant side of this thought game is more like planning, or trying to project our desires/plans onto the future. I call it the “pleasant” side because, even though it’s highly unlikely in our daydreaming state to really get what we want, it’s still nice to dream about how nice things could be.

The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps. Proverbs 16:9

Did you notice a common denominator between the worry and planning sides of our thought life? God is in them both. Or at least, He NEEDS to be in them. Jesus says that our Father knows exactly what we need, so that means we should not worry about how things will turn out.

Easy for Jesus to say… is my first response to that statement. Jesus and the Father have such a unique and close relationship that Jesus can speak this statement without flinching, without second-guessing, and He completely believes it 100%.

That’s exactly the kind of relationship the Father desires to have with each of His children. He wants us to believe Him without flinching, without second-guessing. The best part about believing Him is that He doesn’t disappoint.

Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed. Psalm 34:5

Paul and the writer of Hebrews both speak about how we can have hope in God because He had sent His own Son, delivering His promise of salvation for all. I would say that if He can deliver in this, a MAJOR issue, He can deliver in ANYTHING else that this life brings our way.

Behold, I lay in Zion a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense,
And he who believes in Him will not be disappointed.” Romans 9:33

17In the same way God, desiring even more to show to the heirs of the promise the unchangeableness of His purpose, interposed with an oath, 18 so that by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have taken refuge would have strong encouragement to take hold of the hope set before us. 19 This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil, 20 where Jesus has entered as a forerunner for us, having become a high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek. Hebrews 6:17-20

Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God. And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. Romans 5:1-5

In other words, trusting or believing God (hoping in Him) does not leave us disappointed or ashamed. You might say it would make one unflinching. Steadfast. Confident.

Now the flip side or the pleasant side of this is that we also can trust God to plan our ways, in the most perfect way. Remember, God is in the worry side and the planning side. We can plan our lives until we earn an “expert” rating in our own little worlds. However, planning doesn’t make it so. And there’s the rub! A man plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps. No amount of daydreaming will ensure that I’ll get just what I want. Even more interesting to ponder is that what I want may not be the best anyway. This is quite possibly the most obvious reason we should trust God’s heart for us. He directs our steps for good, and not to harm us. Sometimes His good feels painful (like in times of discipline), but it’s ALWAYS good (see my previous post on this!).

To take a peek into Ashleyland recently, you may go here. I can’t promise that you’ll even find it interesting, but you will find that it is what I’m really thinking…