As I look ahead at the stressful week in front of me, I am again reminded of God’s grace and mercy. In the moments that overwhelm me (which is many of them), I call on One of Anne Frank’s many quotes:
“Think of all the beauty still left around you and be happy.”
― Anne Frank
There has been beauty in these past three days, despite the fact that there has also been stress, anxiety, and fear. I think what scares me the most is the fear that I can not keep burning the wick at both ends, so to speak – running the well dry, as some may say it. September has not granted me much “breathing room” and I am scared that I’ll run out of oxygen and collapse at some point in the near future. This thought scares me. After all, how can I be expected to just keep going and going and going? How can I be expected to wake up every day at 5am, practice for at least 3-4 hours before going off to class for a long day, only to come home at attend doctors appointments, teach lessons, do homework, and start college applications? I feel like everyone is expecting me to be able to handle all of this and to be able to be happy and graceful like I’ve been in the past. But I also starved in the past – that was my coping mechanism. Stressed? Skip a meal, that’ll buy you 30 extra minutes to get stuff done. Overwhelmed with anxiety? Just go run 10 miles, that’ll make you feel better. The worst part is – those things worked. Temporarily.
In Church this morning we studied Luke 12:13-21.
The sermon was really good and throughout it, we were asked these three questions:
1. What do I really need?
2. To whom do I really belong?
3. Where do I really find life?
As our Pastor talked on about these questions which are probably familiar to all Christian minds, whether frequently or occasionally – I realized that although he was referrencing physical “stuff” and possessions…for me, it almost applies more mentally and emotionally.
I sat in on both services because I performed at church and during the 1st sermon I took notes strictly about what the pastor was talking about, at the 2nd service though I took notes that were along these lines. Maybe you’ll find them, or parts of them, relatable:
1. What do I really need?
Aka: what controls my life?
What a list that is! It’s full of manipulative, controlling, negative things. This is my psychological “stuff”. Although the pastor was preaching about tangible things, this is what hit home most with me when I thought about this question in regards to my own life.
BUT. Living for this type of “stuff” will only drive us to lives of misery – trust me, I know this first hand. JESUS = REAL LIFE. The thing is, sometimes Jesus doesn’t give us what we want – but He will ALWAYS provide us with what we need. I have been asking the wrong questions for years now – “God, please rid me of this depression, heal me of this anxiety, make me free of this eating disorder, etc etc”. What I really need to be asking is this: “Help me to share my struggles with others so that they may see the magnificent work you’ve done and provided in my life.” I should be thanking him for bringing me to and (mostly) through all of this and for everything I’ve learned in the process. The dirt won’t ever go completely away, but that doesn’t mean you can’t learn to clean yourself up a bit.
2. To whom do I really belong?
Aka: To whom am I accountable too in order to live “free”?
Again, not the most healthy looking list. The reality? My life should NOT rely on pleasing these people and things!! My medical team (God Bless them for their compassion and patience) is not the end all of my actions and my life. I value their opinion and I am accountable to them for honesty, but aside from that – they have no say over where I go when I pass from this physical earth…why am I putting so much stake in what they say or think of me? An eating disorder is a tricky thing, along with the scale. Every day I still struggle with the thought that my worth and value as a human is based on a number on a scale, a number of calories, a pants size, etc. I have fear of other people’s judgments – what they’ll say if I succeed, what they say if I fail. But does it really even matter? 1St of all, this body is a portal. It is a hotel for my soul which is seeking to reside in heaven. This body is temporary and what other people say or think about it is THEIR issues and their stuff. And that doesn’t just apply to my physical body, but any other judgments they may pass. Teachers, possible schools, family, etc – they will ALL pass judgments on me, my body, my playing ability, my success, etc. But they aren’t the final judge – God is. Trust me, I am working hard every day to keep that fact in mind and to focus on pleasing Him and Him Alone.
When I lose focus on Jesus and begin to be consumed by these things, that’s what some may call being a “practical atheist”. What that means basically is that my actions don’t fall in line with my heart. I can speak Christian words and truly believe the word and the truth in my heart, but if I act and behave in a way that opposes that, I am not fully devoted to acting on God’s behalf or being one of his disciples.
Jesus. We really belong to Jesus.
And the final question:
1. Where do I really find life?
I didn’t make a list for this one. The answer is a simple one:
I find life in Jesus Christ.
Living for either of the earlier lists I made is essentially living in spiritual poverty. I may be walking the walk and talking the talk, but none of that matters if I’m not also acting in a Godly, Christian way.
“Stuff” is expendable. Whether physical or psychological, it will all be left behind here on earth when we journey to our next destination.
God’s love is eternal. And that bring me to my main point:
GOD IS OUR PURPOSE!!!
Friends, I am not perfect – far, FAR from it. But I can find happiness, beauty, and dare I say, even solitude in these hectic, stressful, overwhelming days because I know who tp run too in times of weakness. When the psychological and physical issues that surround me and envelop me become too great for me to handle – I run to God. I’m working on running to him before an issue even begins…it’s a hard habit to form, especially if you’re stubbornly independent. But I know that I am nothing without him by my side. I am NOT alone in this very lonely word – not if I’m living for God and not for the “stuff” that surrounds me.
I plan to fight these battles around me and inside of me, even in these stressful times. I am determined that going forward will put me face to face with even harder things than going backwards would. But I also know that just past those difficult things is where the sun shines. God’s rays of light are calling me forward and so this is my hope during my every day battle:
“There is no magic cure, no making it all go away forever. There are only small steps upward; an easier day, an unexpected laugh, a mirror that doesn’t matter anymore.”
― Laurie Halse Anderson, Wintergirls
And so, I challenge you to look for beauty even in the smallest things – a walk, cool air, watching the sunrise, a quiet morning, being surrounded by a singing congregation and suddenly knowing that you aren’t and won’t ever be, truly alone.
That was my realization in church this morning, even more so than the connection with the sermon. As I stood there during a hymn, listening to the choir sing behind me and facing a singing, strong, congregation – I felt God move my heart. He renewed me. I can face this day, and tomorrow, and the rest of this week…even if it’s simply one hour at a time. God won’t put you to it, if he can’t pull you through it. I hope everyone has a blessed week<3