Saturday, July 28, 2012

High Anxiety

First of all I have to say that God has blessed my socks off by giving me the opportunity to work with people who helped bring about wonderful change in my life. You can read some of my past blogs about the City of Refuge and get a little bit of what I am talking about.

The short story is my husband was a pastor and our lives were a big mess. Things looked pretty good on the outside. We were functioning and smiling on cue, but inside we both had some pretty painful hurts that we didn't know how to address.

We had heard about the City of Refuge ministry of First Baptist Woodstock. We knew of friends who had gone there. We also knew the church received calls constantly from pastors and families in crisis wanting to come there for help. And we figured that there was no room at the inn for us.  But God brought us in anyway.

I am still moved to tears when I think about it. On that day I moved from hopeless to hopeful.

The rest of the story is now about seven years along. After completing our time with the City of Refuge we stayed here at First Baptist Woodstock. When people have poured love and mercy into your life, you really don't want to leave. It's like Rick Warren says, "When people's lives are changed you'd have to lock the doors to keep them away." That's me. You cannot keep me from working with the ministries that changed my life.

When I was given the opportunity by HopeQuest Ministry Group to work with the support groups and the people who helped me I was overwhelmed with joy, thanks, humility, and all other kind of light and happy emotions. My gratefulness continues today.

However, doubts are stirring within that I didn't know existed. Suddenly, I feel incompetent, awkward, clumsy, slow, and generally unqualified to do any of the work I am supposed to be doing. Inadequate is a very fitting term.

All of those feelings bring on an anxiety that whispers, "Now, they are going to know. Now, they will find out. You are not up to snuff. You are not in their league. What did you think you were doing?"

These voices are particularly strong when I make a mistake. Recently, I misspelled my own boss' name and my thoughts cried out, "Oh no, a misspelling! I'm supposed to be educated! What kind of fool misspells something, especially your boss' name! Ugh! This is awful!"

Thankfully, my husband/editor caught the error before it was too late. But even if he hadn't, it was only a mistake. I hear human beings make them now and then.

The good news is that I am sane enough to know that these thoughts are the crazy ones. They are unreasonable. Identifying these thoughts allows God to do another unveiling of my soul. There are more heart issues that my Father wants to address, like this lie that somehow I'm inadequate to do what He has called me, trained me, equipped me, and gifted me to do. 

To be clear, I am not talking about finding my sufficiency outside of Christ. I understand I am to depend upon Him every day. I am talking about the false belief that I am inept to do anything with what He has already supplied. If I have studied and memorized multiplication tables, done the multiplication homework sheets, and passed several multiplication tests at school, then it is outlandish to say I am not equipped to do simple multiplication.

I am talking about allowing fear to cripple me into passivity even when He has promised to be right beside me. Passivity is not God's way for any of His children.

It's all kind of ironic. I work with women in small groups who are learning to leave behind false beliefs they didn't even know they had. It is a revealing work of the Holy Spirit. It is day by day, little by little, learning to replace the lies with the truth of God. Grasping the truth with your heart and not just your head begins with recognizing the crazy stuff and questioning it's validity. "Who says?" is a good place to start.

So, I am asking. I am seeking the Father's face. I am confessing to others that I am in this struggle. I am allowing friends to speak the truth into my life. I have learned not to do this life alone. Jesus gave me His body--other believers to strengthen, support, and help me.

Next blog I will share some things I do to regain my wits when I experience  this kind of anxiety. I've mentioned some of the tools already, but I'll lay them out in more detail. Stay tuned.