Monday, June 8, 2009

Calm My Anxious Heart

It was impossible to keep our conversations from being overheard by the rest of the Panera Bread constituents. With ten girls crammed around a too-small table, we had to speak rather loudly so girls on both ends of the table could hear us. This meant that anyone within 15 feet of our table could also hear us. We soon gave up trying to be quiet, glad we had the freedom to read our Bibles and talk about God in a public place. We hoped our fellow customers would be understanding.

When I agreed to be a part of the Friday morning Bible study, I didn’t plan on getting much out of it. The study of the book Calm My Anxious Heart was on a topic I didn’t think I needed. I’m not a habitually anxious person. But after I read the first chapter, I realized how much anxiety really existed in my life.  

When I used to think of anxiety, I pictured a worrisome old lady that had to take heart medication because she allowed anxiety to rule her life. That example truly exists in the world, but this is anxiety in its extreme. Anxiety, I have discovered, is any form of worry, discontent, or feelings of apprehension, nervousness, or disquiet.

Wow. Anxiousness goes much deeper in my life than I had realized.

As soon as the study began, I started seriously pursuing agents and editors for my writing. Actually, I’d been seriously pursuing them for a while, but suddenly I  was anxious about it. This past week I have had an overwhelming weight in my chest that no amount of praying has been able to lift.

I’m re-memorizing Philippians 4:4-8. I’ll tell myself several times throughout the day, “Everything, through prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. Be anxious for nothing, be anxious for nothing, be anxious for nothing…

The title of the book Calm My Anxious Heart has become my sometimes hourly prayer. I had no idea that true anxiety was so present in my life.

Though praying and memorizing scripture has been helpful and has proven to calm my anxious heart whenever I focus on it, it’s not a recipe for success. It’d be too easy if it were. I’m having to learn to present my requests to God and then leave those requests with Him instead of carrying them away with me when I go throughout the day. Reminding myself that God is King forever and ever has more of a calming affect than anything. What does worrying accomplish? God has the power to fight for me, more so than I have to fight for myself.

It’s an ongoing struggle, battle, and possible all-out war. As I remember seasons of spiritual struggles in the past, I am able to see how anxiety was just one more thing I was fighting against. Just because I wasn’t hyperventilating or screaming hysterically, doesn’t mean I wasn’t worried.

Now, with writing I have to remind myself that if God called me to this profession, He already has a plan of action formulated. He tells me pieces of the plan when it’s necessary for me to know. I guess He knows that if He told me the whole plan, it’d overwhelm me and I’d feel responsible for making it happen. I guess it’s best to be delightfully ignorant until the appointed time. God knows how worrisome we can be so He takes steps to keep us in the dark as much as possible.

I used to think He was being mean. Now I realize He’s being good, protective, sparing me more responsibility than I can handle. What I used to see as God withholding is really God taking care of me and doing what is necessary to calm my anxious heart. 

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