Dare I admit it? Dare I or don’t I, Ann and I, we are kindred spirits. The cries of our hearts have sang the same tune. She exposes and pours out the poison that sickened her heart, and I nod in agreement, knowing it’s the same poison that’s sickened mine. She writes on page 143 of One Thousand Gifts:
Anxiety has been my natural posture, my default stiffness. The way I curl my toes up, tight retreat. How I angle my jaw, braced, chisel the brow with the lines of distrust. How I don’t fold my hands in prayer…weld them into tight fists of control. Always control–pseudopower from the pit. How I refuse to relinquish worry, babe a mother won’t forsake, an identity. Do I hold worry close as this ruse of control, this pretense that I’m the one who will determine the course of events as I stir and churn and ruminate? Worry is the facade of taking action when prayer really is. And stressed, this pitched word that punctuates every conversation, is it really my attempt to prove how indispensable I am? Or is it more? Maybe disguising my deep fears as stress seems braver somehow.
I’ve made myself sick. Literally. And I’ve tried so hard to appear brave, but really all I’ve been is afraid.
I’m reminded today that it’s always the perfect time to trust, because I am always held. That it’s a good thing that things have not been in my control, gone my way, small and out of control as they have made me seem. Because all the more they show who’s really in control. And instead of chalking up the loss of appetite and the losing weight and the headaches and tremors to “stress”, I could confess the real cause: my sin. I have failed to trust and I have waved clenched fists at Heaven, demanding signs and answers. I could, like James encourages us, confess my faults to others so I may be healed. (James 5:16). I could forsake the idea that I could be afforded said healing before taking the necessary steps Scripture commands me to take in order to be forgiven for the sin, and granted the healing needed to clean up the damage that my sin has caused. I could stop asking, “God, heal me! Take away the anxiety!” before I’m ready to do the hard work of relying on the power of the Spirit to resist the temptation to fall into anxiety and worry like I have been so quick to do my entire life. After twenty-five years, how could I imagine it would be easy? But I’m not promised easy. I’m promised the power and presence of God Himself, and I could stop forgetting that. I could start fighting. Fighting fear, fighting lies, fighting the Enemy, fighting the idea that I can rest comfortably in my sin with no consequences because at least I don’t do this, or that, or _________. My sin always has consequences, and they don’t ever affect just me. I could heed Paul’s advice to not grow weary in doing good (Galatians 6:9), to keep fighting the good fight of faith (1 Timothy 6:12).
Readers, you are strangers, friends, family members, acquaintances. But if you’re a believer, we’re in this together. I think God tells us not to just confess to Him but also to one another because He knows we need each other. It’s how He made us. No man is an island, and if you’re struggling with something, sometime else has, too (1 Corinthians 10:13). That’s why I’m so glad Ann found the courage to expose her poison. Because if someone else has been tempted like I have, and has found the strength to fight it, maybe I can, too. Maybe I can remember the power to fight is right at my fingertips, living inside of me. Readers, whether I know you or not, can we engage in this battle together? Can we remember there’s strength in numbers? Can we commit to confessing our faults to others–whether that’s to your spouse, small group, a close confidante or group of friends? Can we find the courage to come up alongside fellow fighters and say, “I’ve been there. Here’s the way out.”? Can we resolve to do the hard work of letting the Spirit’s power work through us to rid our hearts of poison, and fill us with Him in order to flow out of us? Too much is at stake to simply throw in the towel, to lie down and let the Enemy get the upper hand. He’s already been defeated, and we’ve got to show him who’s Boss. The God of the universe has called us to live for His glory and proclaim to others how to do the same.
If you’d be so brave, I’d love to hear feedback on how you’re making headway in the battle. How have fellow fighters come alongside you and encouraged you in the battle? How have you done the same for others?