I’ve known for years that I am a control freak. I’ve known for minutes that the anxiety it produces in me is a sin. I make jokes about my controlling nature to excuse my behavior so everyone can laugh and pat my shoulder at how I need to have my life ordered in a certain way.
Sometimes the anxiety rises up in me so fast and furious that I don’t know where to go with it. It screams control, control, control at me until I relent and start to try to “take charge” of whatever situation is in front of me causing the feeling of panic to riot. And so here I go again, spiraling and grasping and gasping for air.
Here’s a little known fact – panic makes me stupid. I can choose to leave a job I love where there is uncertainty for a job I sort of like where I can at least know what’s coming. Sometimes the devil you know is easier than the devil you don’t. I can choose to rush into a conversation with someone who needs time to process because my comfort level and assurance is somehow more important than theirs. I can choose to demand other people behave in a certain way and when they don’t I become angry and anxious.
We can make ourselves God Of Our Universe and watch all of the planets spinning in our orbit. Which is great if the planets cooperate. When they don’t, we can fall back into unhealthy habits to try to cope. OR we can make other people responsible for bringing us peace, for calming us down. It’s not fair to them. We have now traded making ourselves God and put someone else in that place.
Anxiety becomes panic when I refuse to lay it down at the foot of the cross where it belongs. This action alone screams for all to hear…I don’t believe you God. When You say you’ve got me? I don’t believe You. And there is the sin. Ugh. Maybe you are like me and don’t necessarily call it panic. Maybe we call it something like CONCERN or CARE or some other such thing to make ourselves feel better. But in reality this is the discomfort in realizing that we are not in control. And that can freak you right the heck out.
Panic is contagious. Say someone else in our life is in full-blown panic mode and they come to us for help. I don’t know about you but sometimes my “helping” looks a lot like imposing my will onto someone else. My frustration level will only increase if they don’t comply. So now they are in sin/panic/pressure mode and I am in sin/panic/control/angry mode. Perfect. Cue the feelings of condemnation to add to the mix. Now I’m panicking…I’m helping other people to panic…it’s all about me.
God must be so disappointed. Do you ever feel like that? I do. I sometimes feel that God only puts up with me because he has to and poor Him for doing it, because I’m such a mess. And so the cycle goes…sin – panic – feeling of condemnation – sorrow – repentance – experienced forgiveness – more sin. Maybe different sin. Maybe the same sin until this particular cycle breaks.
Scripture tells us “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, 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.” (Philippians 4:6-7 NIV)
I know the verse…maybe you do to. But do we believe it? This is what I know… True peace is only found at the foot of the cross – IF you have the courage to go. Don’t let Satan tell you that your sin disqualifies you from seeking God’s face. Don’t believe the lie that you have to have it all figured out. We can rest in the knowledge that the One who DOES have it all figured out is GOOD…and He is on our side. The peace we have through Christ is not forced upon us against our will, it is a gift offered freely.
Because of what Christ has done for us, we have peace available. We don’t HAVE TO live in a state of fear, even if that is what seems the most natural to us. Even if we think we have the RIGHT to feel that way. Even when the world will tell us it’s only natural. We who are in Christ have a new natural – if we learn to exercise the privilege of coming before him with all of our pain, all of our panic, all of our doubt.
And He promises that we can leave that encounter with His peace. He has paid the price so that we can be free. Our responsibility in the equation is to show up.
Soooo…show up. Ask others to ask you if you are showing up. Ask God to forgive you for not showing up. And then show up again.