The above picture is a relaxed and happy me a few years ago.
Overwhelmed? Anxious? Trying to tame the beast? Feel like your life is out of control? Trust me I have been there. You are not alone.
Life gets that way. At least for me it does. I feel like I have somewhat borderline OCDish (that’s a word, right?) tendencies because I like to have things perfect all the time. My house in order. Papers filed. Closets organized. Fridge cleaned and organized. Vehicle cleaned. Kids backpacks and lunches ready to go. Everything must have a place, at least in my perfect world it should.
Seeing one thing out-of-place can easily send me into a blur of motion as I frantically try to subdue the beast inside. My heart starts racing. My mind starts going in a million different directions. I start to sweat, get frustrated, and overwhelmed.
Hello anxiety. You try controlling me and in order to subdue you I must satisfy you. I keep you happy by cleaning and organizing until there is a sense of peace. Watch out anybody who gets in my way when I am on one of these moods. I get scared I won’t be able to finish and freak out. Good-bye anxiety.
Four years ago after the births of one of my children I came home from the hospital, which I had previously requested nobody be home including my husband and children. So my dear sweet in-laws, precious husband, and children disappeared for a few hours. It was during that hour I frantically cleaned my house. Crawling on my hands and knees I picked up, straightened up my house, and vacuumed.. Did I mention I had just had a baby two days prior? I just had my fifth cesarean section. I had staples. It was painful. It was after the birth of my sixth child, my son David Cooper. More on the story here. Once again, it was my anxiety.
For seventeen years I have lived a (self) controlled life by maintaining a very strict daily regimen of chores in order to prevent anxiety from happening. I knew this was not how I wanted to live. However, it was not until last year I made the connection to those feelings and labeled them anxiety.
Everyone feels anxious now and then. It’s a normal emotion. Many people feel nervous when faced with a problem at work, before taking a test, or making an important decision. But you may experience anxiety that is persistent, seemingly uncontrollable, and overwhelming. If it’s an excessive, irrational dread of everyday situations, it can be disabling. My anxiety can be crippling at times, because it often prevented me from living a normal life. This is the type of anxiety we’re not supposed to live with.
I have seen anxiety bring a strong man to his knees. Anxiety can break up relationships. It is not fun living with if you are one that has it or the one who is watching somebody live with. It can hamper your life to the point you live your life around it. It is the central focus of all that you do, at least it is for me, trying to tame the beast that may erupt.
Did God create us to be worried? Should we be living a life wrought with angst and distressing thoughts? Or as a Christian should we be living in a bubble and believe everything is okay? The answer is neither. In Philippians 4:6, we are commanded, “Do not be anxious [do not worry] about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” In this Scripture, we should know that we are to bring all of our needs and concerns to God in prayer rather than worry about them. Jesus encourages us to avoid worrying about our physical needs like clothing and food. Jesus assures us that our heavenly Father will take care of all our needs (Matthew 6:25-34). Therefore, we have no need to worry about anything. Easier said than done, right? Pray it, mediate on it, and believe it.
I take comfort in the written word, especially the following from Philippians 3:7 “But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.
Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”
I have had to give up a perfectly clean and organized house at all times because knowing Christ is worth more. My home is good enough. I trust my chore list. I do not more than that. And I know that I will not find righteousness in a perfect home. In Christ, I will find righteousness. In Christ alone. Until then I will keep my eyes on the prize for which God has called me to do.
I am a work in progress. He loves me. His grace is sufficient for me. The prize is worth it.