I don't know if I've mentioned this before or not, but one of my biggest fears is growing old and still having to battle anxiety or that it will be worse. One of my reasons for this fear is because my mom is a lot like me but worse, and in her opion, getting worse as the years go on. This reality has made me feel hopeless at times because, if my mom's anxiety and nervousness is getting worse, why won't the same be true for me?
But then this weekend, my mom made a comment that gave me a glimmer of hope that I might fare better than her after all. Some how we got to talking about how some people like to be home and don't feel like they need or even want to be out and about all the time, unlike us. We are both social creatures who thrive on being around others and being busy. We don't understand people like my husband and father who have no problem sitting around the house for a couple of days with nothing going on. My mom said "Like a few weeks ago when the power was out we couldn't go anywhere for a day or two and I thought I was going to go crazy." I said "Well that's one thing we both need to work on because it causes us anxiety," or something to that effect anyways. My mom replied "I wish I could."
Now before I explain how this comment made me feel hopeful, let me explain a change that has occured in me over this past year. Normally I would have never said or even recongnized that this was a problem that needed fixing but rather something I was stuck with and couldn't change. But God mercifully opened my eyes this year to see that this was a false belief. There is relatively very little I have control over, but the one thing I can control is how I react to things. I am not a helpless victim to my thoughts and attitudes but rather I can choose to be master over them. In fact one of my greatest sources of anxiety has been the very subject my mom and I were discussing. My security has been tied up in how busy my social calendar is or isn't. I often exhausted myself and girls constantly trying to keep us busy. Since I grew up being taught that who I am is tied up in how busy I am or am not, I thought that if we had to stay home because we had nothing going on that meant I was big loser with a capital "L" pasted on my forhead. Thankfully through the Bible and the wise words of my husband, friends, and counselor I learned that this wasn't true. It's o.k. to not have something going on all the time. It's o.k. to be at home with "nothing" to do. My identity is in Christ and what he did for me on the cross, not in my social calendar. I also learned that this is something I choose. I have to choose to be content at home. It doesn't come naturally for me like it does my husband or friends. I have to choose it. When we have nothing going on for a couple of days and my natural instinct is to rush to find some way to fill them, I have to stop and ask the Lord to help me be content and to show us how to spend our time at home. He never lets me down. I almost always get through what I feared might be a boring day not regretting having tried to fill it up. Again, I have to choose to look at the day on the bright side or otherwise I am in danger of feeling like I'm going to go crazy. I've also learned though that a little boredom now and then never hurt anyone. In fact, it reminds me to pray for those stuck in a prison cell with nothing to do but pace or look at the walls.
Anyways, back to my mom's comment. The reason I have hope is because unlike my mom, I have learned that I can control how I react. Like Paul, I too can be content in any and every situation because of Christ who strengthens me. My mom hasn't figured that out yet. She still thinks she's stuck with no hope of changing because it is up to the outside forces not her whether or not she goes crazy. This is the line that seperates us. If you remember from my previous post, I quoted John Piper who said this very attitude is anti Gospel. If we still see ourselves as helpless victims of our sin and incapable of change, then we haven't met Jesus. Or if we have, we don't believe Him.
I want to leave you with this encouragement. This is the Gospel message: In Christ, we are no longer enslaved to sin(bad habbits, bad thoughts, etc...) but we have been set free. By the power of His spirit, we no longer have to obey our flesh, but we have been set free to follow in Christ's footsteps and become a new person.
Here are some verses to check out and ponder.