The last few weeks I’ve been fighting an unseen battle. A relentless war waging in the confines of my own mind and yet I feel powerless to stop it.
Have you ever been in a battle with your own self?
Caught in the moment where you know something in your brain but you just can’t get your mind and heart to believe it?
When you know that you know that you know it is true – that peace will come, that life will go on, that things will work out, that justice will reign – and yet you fight accepting it for you?
The battlefield of the mind can be one heck of a massacre.
I know I can go from hope to despair in a heartbeat. If my mind is willing (and it nearly always is) I can bypass gratitude and head straight into a spiral of fear and anxiety in two seconds flat.
In coming out of a 2-day all out grip of anxiety I’m learning that anxiety is rooted in the desire to control. For me, this has been a desire to control things I cannot possibly control: people.
You see I want what I want, and yet sometimes I don’t really know what it is that I want. I just believe I’ll know it when I see it! Ever been there? It’s really not helpful. And it sends us into the chaos that is anxiety.
I’m so used to operating on my own timeline. A girl who mostly sets goals for herself that she can achieve on her own, having to relinquish my intense drive to “get things done” is a challenge. Especially when my goals require the assistance from people skilled in areas I am not. Things I desire and yet cannot create on my own.
I’m learning there is an important distinction between a goal and a desire.
A goal is something we can accomplish on our own. I can set a goal to run a marathon and the task is all mine. I need to run the miles, make the sacrifices, train my body to properly eat and hydrate, do the work to achieve it and know that my achievement rests on my efforts, determination and dedication. There is only one me that can get me from the starting gate to the finish line. That is a goal.
A desire, however, requires another person. I might desire for my husband to bring me flowers on Mother’s Day but the likelihood of that happening depends fully on his ability to remember it’s a special day! I might desire for my kids to make handmade cards and wrap up their little homemade gifts and present them Mother’s Day morning but unless my husband or some other adult facilitates that, it’s not going to happen! Unfortunately I cannot make someone do what I desire. I can make my desire known and then I have to allow the other person the freedom to do or not do as they wish. I cannot control the outcome.
For me, it’s helpful distinguishing whether what I want is a goal or a desire. Knowing whether it is something I can do and achieve on my own…or if it is something I desire. Even if it is something I desire so deeply, the truth is I can only make my desire known and then I have to release my grip because I may not get it.
It may not be intended for me.
This weekend I realized that in my intense grip to control what I desired, not only did I get in the way of that desire ever happening in a beautiful, meaningful way, but I created chaos in my heart and mind. That chaos created tension in relationships and and a spiral of crazy-making anxious stumbling in the dark.
And so I sit in the undone and I take a deep breath and remember that as I look back on my life I see a path littered with many things. Heartache, heartbreak, rejection, abandonment, loss, grief and despair.
But you know what else I see? Faithfulness.
The unwavering love of a Father who knows what’s best for us even when we cannot see. The truth that only by walking through our darkness can He truly bring us to light. The uncomfortable reality that we do not know what is best and sometimes unanswered prayers are the greatest blessings we have ever been given.
I’m reminded that these are the times I must rest in the hands of a Father who is good. Who knows the desires of our heart and longs to give them to us.
What anxious stirring is suffocating your heart today?
Might I encourage you to loosen your grip, open your hands, and surrender it to a Father who works all things for your good and His glory, in His time? You are loved.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice.And the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:6-9