Hi again, friends!
Whoa. I can’t believe it’s already Tuesday again.
Last Tuesday, I was in Puerto Rico with a really close friend of mine, Gabriela, and our families. It was AMAZING. Gabs and I stayed up really late writing for NaNoWriMo and blogging and talking and baking and watching movies and laughing.
So I miss that. A lot. Here’s a picture of us in a coffee shop drinking expensive and delicious latte frappes, all the while pretending like I would never have to go home.
And here’s us under a nice tree with the ocean in the background, in the SWELTERING sun, trekking through famous forts and ports and such.
I mention all this because…it was in Puerto Rico where I started writing my book.
Hadn’t heard the news? Yep, I’m writing a book! I shared the news last Saturday, and you can read about that here. And then, because I was really excited about it, I decided to share a portion of my first chapter of that book. Want to read it if you haven’t already? Right here.
As I said last Tuesday, the format and style is a little different than a regular blog post of mine. Why? Because while writing is writing, blogging and book-writing are two totally different arts. I find books to be a bit more formal, but can still take on different tones based on audiences.
So apparently, you all liked my sneak peek that I shared (???). I got so much encouragement, and it inspired me so much, so I decided to share another snippet.
For those of you who aren’t interested, don’t worry. My Saturday post will be a regular one, and if I continue to share sections, that’ll only be a Tuesday occurrence.
Today’s segment of chapter 1 is on anxiety.
That is, anxiety over the past, the present, the future, and how to overcome it all.
Anxiety Over the Past
Have you ever done something that you thought was a good idea at the time, and later realized how stupid it was? And then regretted it for years?
Yes, I think we all have. Whether we’ve done something that has hurt ourselves or has hurt someone else, we all have things we wish we hadn’t done. Things we feel would make life oh-so-much better if they hadn’t happened.
I can only “get” so much of what regret feels like, seeing as though I’m only a teenager, but we all have things that weigh on us because we feel guilty.
And for a lot of us, we can become anxious because of it, and for a few reasons.
We may be afraid that healing is impossible. We may be afraid that we’ll never be forgiven. We may be afraid that we’ll repeat our mistakes. These are valid feelings and fears – but we cannot live bogged down by what is in the past.
Anxious fear, while it is completely legitimate and we should not try to explain it away, is not to be suffered in alone.
God has made us new in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17). He does not count our pasts against us, so why should we do it of ourselves?
Why should we live chained to the fear that we’ll mess up again?
Why should we live so caught up in what is over and done that we miss what is right in front of us?
God has forgiven us, and He wants to see us forgive ourselves. To move on, to focus on the greater things He has for us.
Oh, again, this isn’t some easy task that requires the push of a button and three clicks of our heels. Healing from anxiety over the past takes time, but God loves us and His patience never runs out on us. He’s always there for us to come back to and see our worth, to see that we’re forgiven, to see that we’re loved, and to know that He will never leave us to handle our problems alone.
Anxiety Over the Present
Present anxiety seems to me to be the toughest to deal with.
The panic of, “What am I doing?!” and “Where am I supposed to be?” and “How do I know if people actually care about me?”
Friends, I know what it feels like.
I know what it feels like to sit paralyzed, holding the phone, not knowing if I should call someone because I’m terrified to be rejected.
I know what it’s like to lay in my bed and cry for what feels like an eternity because I’m so afraid I’m going to mess up my life.
I have felt every ounce of pain when I’m convinced I must be doing the wrong thing, or I picked the wrong career path, or I’ve come so far that I can’t be fixed.
It’s paralyzing and petrifying, and that’s when I’m the most anxious.
See, I know the Bible says to be anxious for nothing in Philippians 4, and that by prayer, we should let our requests be known to God and He will give us peace.
I know all the verses. I know I should cast my cares on Him because He really does care for me.
But when I am in the middle of it, I freeze. I forget that there is a solution to my misery. I forget that I am loved and counted righteous no matter what I do. I feel like I have no hope.
But my feelings are incorrect. The feelings – those same feelings that are such a part of my personality – are wrong about one thing: Truth.
The truth that God will never leave me or forsake me, especially when I’m struggling, is never more true than when I feel like I’m alone.
The truth that I am loved with an everlasting love is not conditional, for it does not change when I feel unlovable.
The truth that I can be content and have joy in all situations is not dependent on my material possessions or circumstances, but upon a God who does not change.
When I feel the most anxious over what’s going on in my life, when I’m paralyzed with fear, and when it hurts like it never has before, the promises of God still stand.
Anxiety Over the Future
I once was utterly panicked over where I’d be in the years ahead.
In middle school and in the years before, I had absolutely no desire to go to college because I was afraid that I’d change my mind about what I wanted to do.
One day, I wanted to be a teacher. The next, I wanted to be a hairdresser. A week later, I decided I wanted to be a writer, and a little after that, I decided writing was much too difficult and I’d like to simply be a mother instead.
Thinking about the future – five, ten, fifteen years in advance – sent me into a bit of a panic. What if I get a degree in something that I decide I hate? What if the first day on my dream job is a flop and I start questioning my existence? What if I fail? What if I never marry?
And the panic-filed “what-ifs” cluttered my mind until my future planning almost became nonexistent.
Of course I knew that anxiety wasn’t really healthy for me. Of course I’d been told that God was in control. But did I believe it? I don’t know if I did.
Somewhere in my mind, and I assume in the minds of others, we think that we have to do everything alone. I think we have it in our minds that God holds the future, but hold in our hearts the burden that we have to handle everything ourselves. While this seems like such a paradox, it’s a prevalent mindset.
In a way, it’s connected to the stress ordeal – we think we must handle everything, know everything, be in control. But we don’t.
The best liberation from anxiety over the future is knowing that God is bigger than anything. He is bigger than our stress, He is bigger than our anxiety and fears. Nothing surprises Him, and nothing is too hard for Him to handle.
But what about our pain? What about the fact that life is really scary and unpredictable, and so many times we really don’t know what to do?
Pain exists. Anxiety is real. But God is more powerful than anything we struggle with, and He is worthy of our trust. He’ll never let us down.
It’s not worth it to live in a state of anxiety, yet in those times, we must cling to God the most instead of running from Him. Can life be terrifying? Absolutely. But nothing is terrifying to God. He wants us to run to Him in our pain so that we can grow in our relationship with Him.
Is it hard? Yeah, it is. And I won’t pretend that I know it all or that I have a perfect life.
But whatever the state of our lives may be, God does not change. He always wants us to look to Him in the midst of our problems. No, we can’t do this life alone – and that, friends, is alright.