As I lay awake, completely restless and unable to sleep, I began to pray and jump onto my Bible app to catch up on some of my reading plans. I had been feeling pretty anxious for a solid week and just when I had started to feel a bit better my mind was flooded with anxiety evoking thoughts.
I'd missed a family members funeral due to distance and time, spent far too much time in a crowded room of people I was uncomfortable around, rough mom week, stressful finances, and bad news and tough requests all week long. The list can go on, but I know we've all had one of "those weeks" at some point; the kind that leaves you feeling utterly drained and vulnerable, and that makes you want to isolate yourself so you can melt into a puddle under the covers of your warm, safe bed and not come out till the stress is gone.
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Matthew 6:25
If you're anything like me you sometimes go through periods where you just can't seem to keep your eyes on Jesus and what He provides. It's far too easy to see the things that feel like they're going wrong, and then we miss the opportunity to learn something, and to see God work in our lives.
Sometimes I need a reminder that life is so much more than what feels wrong or difficult. There is so much more than what I see in the tunnel vision if anxiety. When we get sucked into that hypnotizing tunnel vision we get stuck in a spiritual rut like walking in quicksand. You just want to get free, but you forget that in order to get out of the sinking sand you have to be slow, steady, and patient. Panicking is what makes you sink into the depths of the sand, suffocating into darkness.
When we lose our focus on Jesus, we panic and sink, and wind up stuck. When we keep our focus on Him we realize He's been throwing us a rope this whole time and it's right there at our fingertips ready to be grabbed onto so He can pull us out and free us from the sinking pit of despair.
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:19-21
I think we can all admit money is in itself a stressful topic. Sometimes it just feels like there's never enough. As a single mom I struggled to afford what was needed, constantly sacrificing to ensure my kiddo had what she needed, working longer, harder hours hoping to make a bit more money, at some points working up to three jobs. I was drowning in worry over money. After a long time of this I started to feel God put on my heart to start tithing. I was so anxious over this and it felt like the finances weren't getting any easier, but as soon as I gave in and out of faith began to give back to God I saw my whole world change around me and my entire faith blossomed more than I'd ever known possible. Stepping out in faith and trusting God with my finances helped me get unstuck from a constant pit of financial worry.
When I focus on the money (or lack thereof), get worked up about it, spend too much, or stress about being able to buy what I need, I miss out on God constantly showing up to remind me that He will provide for me. And boy does He show up! Ever since I began giving back to God my faith has grown and God has blessed me in ways I never imagined would happen in my life. Keeping my eyes, and my heart, focused on Christ will keep the anxiety of finances at bay. He's got this!
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. Matthew 5:9
You ever just feel like when it rains it pours? My ability to be kind and gracious has been tried and tested more times than I can track, and I don't think there are ever enough reminders to be the peacemaker, to be the one who stays calm, who shares a voice of reason. I definitely don't always succeed. I mean, I am human, and God knows very well that these reminders throughout every day are so necessary for all of us. I discover time and again that when I find myself complaining about my circumstances, point to the speck in someone else's eye, and just all-around finding myself depressed, upset, or on edge it can always be traced back to me not spending as much time with God. Whenever I find myself becoming negative, whiny or hostile I realize it's because I'm not living as Christ. I'm not being the peacemaker in my world. Once I zero back in on His plan and strive to be more like Christ, I feel myself pulling loose from the quicksand again and start to breathe easier. Maybe the situation doesn't improve right away, but I know from experience that my perspective and attitude has the power to grow my faith or sink it. It takes intentional focus every moment of the day, but it is worth every moment.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Matthew 5:4
God knows very well when we are hurting, and He hurts with us as a Father mourns with His hurting children. God has an incredible way of comforting us in our sadness. When we choose to look to Him for comfort we are able to find an impossible peace to help us tackle the pain. We must recognize that God is in control. We are not. Lifting our worries up to a God who cares allows us to be freed of the hurt and over time we can heal and learn from the hurt. We can use every pain as a tool to learn and grow our faith, and grow deeper in relationship with Christ.
Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it. Luke 11:28
I think the biggest challenge we face is to obey the word of God, but I can honestly say that when we strive to do our best to live as Christ and obey His instruction we can then live our best life. Life will continue to have ups are downs, joys and sorrows, pleasures and pain, but we get to learn more about our Heavenly Father and be blessed with His peace, grace, forgiveness and every other blessing He has in store for us as we strive to honor Him with obedience. We can get unstuck from the spiritual ruts we find ourselves in by heeding His warnings and listening for His instruction. Life doesn't feel so bad when we are aligned with our God who loves us more than we could ever comprehend.