Lots of people asked me at church today how I’m doing. The truth is, not brilliantly. It is so weird to be genuinely terrified of tiny things again at this point. I find I need more time and space by myself than in engaging with others; even with those I love most. Falling back on to ‘toolkit’ crutches I listed in the series of posts a couple of months ago. I ache more than my heart can ache, and my mind won’t join up dots that should be so obvious. And so I spend long hours interacting with a computer or my mobile rather than facing people. My high scores are increasing, but my children are taking the strain and it pains me. I just want to be better, and back in the normal set of responsibilities.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, 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.
I have found over the summer that at those moments of utter madness I knew a massive need welling up in my heart and mind, and that the only thing that met that need was to consciously place myself and my life into God’s hands and choose to trust. Conscious Trust. Letting go of control and stepping forward in God’s strength alone.
Moments of suffocating panic immediately transformed into regular activity. Repeatedly. Worry-ruts became ditches at the side of the road. Spinning mind confusion replaced by focused order. Time and time and time again. There is no simple explanation for this, other than God’s hand at work. I am not mentally disciplined enough to carry myself – heart and mind – when both feel so broken.
God’s peace is like falling in love – noticing colours like you never saw them. Enjoying senses. Recognising the family. Being able to read words forwards again. Peace that not only transcends understanding (this much is well-drilled into me), but utterly guards hearts and minds. Peace which leads to action when we accept it and put it on.
And, fascinatingly for me, Peace which needs regular topping up, like fuel or windscreen wash in a car. There are times when I need a refill, and these days I am very aware that these times come around very often – my tanks are shallow. In fact I prefer keeping things fluid, trusting more smoothly and directly and learning to become better disciplined like this. The Peace is like a drug I find myself longing for, so I am learning to reach for it – in every situation – by prayer, by petition, in gratefulness – in desperation clinging to the only One who supplies my need.
So yes, I frequently feel as shallow and vulnerable as the skin of a bubble. But despite the marks of a crazy busy summer which took so much and gave so much more back – and from which I am still reeling – I know that there is an Answer to anxiety.