Anxious is not a word I ever would have used to describe myself.
Busy? Always. Stressed? Probably. A planner? Definitely.
But anxious, fearful, and unsettled never used to feel like they fit. Not until this year.
It’s funny, getting older. I say “getting older” as if I’m 35 and starting to grieve my youth slipping through my fingers. I’m 21 but I still feel time slipping like I’m a child at the seashore again, making sandcastles and wrestling with the ocean-soaked sand like I could somehow convince it to stay within my grasp.
I’ve been writing here since I was barely in high school, when my most of my problems involved algebra and unrequited crushes. Not to say those problems aren’t perfectly valid for that time of life, or to undermine the other difficult seasons I was walking through that not a lot of people knew about — but at fifteen, everything feels a little more dramatic than it is.
Here we are, six years later, and life is different. I’m into my career and living the future I waited and prayed so long for, and vulnerability is harder than it’s ever been because I thought I would have everything together by now and I absolutely do not.
When you’re in high school, Christians tell you not to worry about your future — God will bring you to where you’re supposed to be. In college, they say the same thing — focus on finding what you want to do and let God handle the rest.
And then you leave college, and suddenly everything you were ever told about trusting God feels flat because it’s time to get your life together and figure everything out. You’re in the real world now. At least, this is how I’ve felt.
This year has been filled with more anxiety than any of the last few ever were. And I’m not proud of it.
Recently, during one particularly rough stretch of palpable anxiety and near-daily tears, I scribbled on an index card, Do I really live like I believe that God is worthy of my trust? and put it on my bedroom mirror to see every morning and evening and ask myself.
If we’re being real, I don’t. Trusting does not sound very fun, or does it come naturally to me, and in my flesh I’d much rather sit in bed and journal out all of my worries and make a plan to micromanage them than leave them with God. Because somehow, I think that if I give everything to Him, He’ll let me down. If I put myself in His hands, He’ll let me go.
I’ve been going through the Bible again this year, and every time I get to Numbers 11:23, I’m stopped in my tracks.
“The LORD answered Moses, ‘Is the LORD’s arm too short? Now you will see whether or not what I say will come true for you.’”
When I read that verse for the first time, I laughed out loud.
In Numbers 11, the Israelites are in the wilderness and they’re complaining to Moses about the manna God had given them — they want meat. And so, as God tends to do, He tells Moses He has it covered.
And Moses says to Him, “Look, Lord. There’s six hundred thousand men here, and You say You can give them food for a month? No way.”
Think about this: the God of all things is talking to him directly and Moses has the audacity to tell God he doesn’t think He can handle it.
So God says to him, “Is the Lord’s arm too short?”
Or, in other words:
Am I too weak?
Is anything too hard for Me?
Do you really think there are things I’m incapable of?
God had JUST led them through the Red Sea — God called them out of the oppression of Egypt and brought every single one of them through it on dry land, pursued by the Egyptians. Not a single Israelite was lost — and not a single Egyptian lived.
Moses turns around after that and tells God that there’s no way He could provide. He’s essentially saying to God, “I know You can lead us, but I don’t think You can take care of us here.”
It’s easy for me to look at Moses and scoff, almost, because it feels absurd to me that the God of all things led millions of Israelites through the Red Sea unscathed and talked with Moses face to face, and still Moses doubted God’s power to sustain them.
But when I sit back and think about it, I feel convicted. How often do I tell Him with my own actions, “God, I’ve seen You work in big ways, but I don’t think You’re good or powerful enough to take care of me?”
I might not admit it to Him out loud, but every time I choose to stay engulfed with worry over my circumstances, I’m telling Him I don’t think I can trust His track record.
I hide behind my doubt and call it being realistic.
I hide behind my anxiety and call it being prepared.
I hide behind my mistrust and call it being smart.
Over and over in Scripture, God asks this rhetorical question of His people: “Is anything too hard for the Lord?”
I know the answer is “of course not,” but I still need the reminder. Maybe you do, too.
I’m realizing how easy it is for me to hold onto the things I want for my life with an iron grip, telling God what I want and trying to manipulate my circumstances to make sure what I want takes place.
But I’m not the one meant to run my life, God is. So lately, I’ve been asking a few things of God.
I ask Him to lead me to where He has for me to be. To open the doors and I’ll walk through them.
I ask Him to help me trust Him. With all the pieces of my life I’m still holding onto and need to let go of.
And I ask Him to give me peace. Because He’s good like that.
Over and over again, He is faithful. I’m surprised by this more often than I care to admit, because honestly, what else was I expecting?
I don’t hold to the idea that whatever we ask of God He owes us, as long as we have enough faith, or something like that. I don’t think that we can make a wishlist and God will be the genie to give us everything we want, and I think for Him to give us every single thing we ask for carries similar consequence to that of a parent freely granting every one of their toddler’s requests.
If we could see what He sees, I have no doubt that we’d want exactly what He has for us.
And this year, that’s what I’m learning. To trust that He is good even when I cannot see the world from His perspective — to trust that His arm is not too short when I doubt His ability to provide for me or orchestrate my circumstances the way He wants them — to trust that what He has is so much better than anything I could come up with in my fickle, human mind.
If only we could see what He sees.