I laid in bed last night or should I say early this morning awake and restless. I couldn’t sleep; my mind was going at warp speed. I have learned in the middle of these insomnia ridden hours to calm my racing thoughts by praying. Honestly, I have prayed around the world and back on many a sleep deprived night. I’ve most likely prayed for many of you.
No need to thank me. 😉
I tossed and turned, adjusted my pillow threw the covers off and then back on (Some of you menopausal ladies will understand this.) flipped from my stomach to my back and finally stared at the demon red numbers on my illuminated digital clock like I had a vendetta. 2:33 am. Why?? That was the real question bouncing around in my much too awake mind. So, instead of throwing a pillow and a mini tantrum, I began to talk to the Lord.
I prayed for hurricane victims, family, friends, strangers, persecuted Christians around the world and some other things I can’t quite remember. But, as I continued to pray, I noticed the number one request I kept having over and over again was for protection. Protection from a home invasion, protection from disease, protection from false truths and from abandonment. On and on I went.
Nothing like having a revelation at two a.m..
Have I ever told you I work at a church? Yep, I am the bookkeeper and secretary for a wonderful old church right in the heart of our small town. I work with some really good people, and almost every week those of us who are employed there meet for staff meeting to get all of our ducks in a row. You’d be surprised how much planning goes into the Sunday morning worship service you attend each week. It’s no accident the hymns often compliment the sermon theme; prayerfully considered and planned.
Anyway, at the beginning of each staff meeting we take a moment to share our cares and concerns, it’s a way for us to stay in touch with the personal needs we carry around in our hearts. It keeps us connected when it would be so easy to become isolated in the midst of all the tasks that need completing.
I have learned to really appreciate these times of sharing around the table.
Last week the Pastor was giving a short devotional before we shared about our lives and he said something that has been sinking into my heart a little more each day. It was really just a passing statement and not the gist of the point he was trying to make. He was talking about anxiety and he said something like “anxiety is usually driven along by something.” That’s not an exact quote but that’s how it sticks out in my mind. In the story he was telling, the person suffering from anxiety was afraid of not being fully prepared for anything and everything that may come his way. He found himself constantly striving to be ready to face any scenario and had a reoccurring bad dream that on one occasion he wasn’t prepared and it was terribly embarrassing.
As I lay there in the wee hours of the morning something I had thought about many months ago began to fit like a missing puzzle piece in my mind. Something drives our anxiety, what was it that drove mine? I’ve been very transparent with all of you about my struggles especially after my mom died.
It was in the silence of this long night I had an epiphany.
Much of my anxiety is driven by a feeling of being unsafe.
When I thought back over all of the things I was praying for, so much of it had to do with feeling unsafe, a fear of being harmed. This fear of harm was more than just physical, it also included the emotional and mental.
I need to feel safe, and I don’t.
That tough statement begs the question, why don’t I feel safe? I look back over my life and there is no way to pinpoint one incident as the blame for these feelings. I think it’s a buildup of one hurt and loss after another. As I lay there I also realized how fragile I am, we all are. I pray for life to show mercy, but, like everyone else I am forced to face my immortality and the fact that I have so little control over what happens to me.
Let me give you some examples of things that keep me up at night.
I have grown children that drive all over the place and my throat tightens often when I think the next phone call I receive could be bad news about a wreck or worse. I’ll never forget my mom pulling me aside and into the kitchen pantry of the church where we worked together to tell me she thought she had cancer.
A piece of the foundation that already felt cracked under my feet fell away that day and I was left shaken.
It was scary as I realized again how small I am and how little say I have in what happens to those I love.
My husband flies airplanes for a living. I never want to hear your worst airline story, okay? It’s nothing personal, it will just keep me up at night. When my husband has to be gone I stir in my sleep when I hear any little noise, it could be an intruder after all. When my youngest child was sick as a second grader and spent several days in the hospital eventually having to see the oncologist, I was terrified inside. And, again it was burned into my mind how life is so unsure.
And as life continued to unfold, and days turned into months and years, more pieces of my foundation crumbled.
In the middle of all the uncertainties of life, it’s no wonder I feel unsafe.
What could do to feel safe?
I sure wish I had an easy answer for this question. I don’t think there is one. I don’t think you can decide not to be afraid and presto it happens. I hear people say, just choose to have faith. What exactly do they mean? Just choose to trust and never allow these scary thoughts to enter your head? I sure wish it worked that way for me; unfortunately, it’s a lot more complicated. I firmly believe in speaking positive words, as a matter of fact I shared with you last week how the Lord is dealing with my speech pretty seriously lately.
It’s made a difference in my outlook.
I’m no stranger to a walk of faith, I’ve been a Jesus follower for most of my life. Recently, I have been discouraged with church language that causes believers to feel ashamed if they struggle with fear. I am not advocating we give into our fear or excuse our fear, but we need to acknowledge we HAVE fear before we can overcome. The whole idea of pretending it’s not a problem has only pushed many who struggle into the shadows. In the darkness one may find anonymity, but loneliness and uncertainty also live there.
And there is just no way to shove fear in the closet.
To be continued next week….
“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10
“Humble yourselves, then, under God’s mighty hand, so that he will lift you up in his own good time. Leave all your worries with him, because he cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:6-7
“Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall.” Psalm 55:22
“Anxiety weighs down the heart, but a kind word cheers it up.” Proverbs 12:25
“When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.” Psalm 56:3