As I was listening to Lead Pastor Ben Snyder define peace as a non-anxious presence, I thought, “Well, I am failing at that!” I don’t know about anyone else, but ever since COVID-19 hit, I feel like I’m surrounded by moving targets: There are things that I should be doing. There are things that I shouldn’t be doing. But those targets keep moving and changing. And this causes me (as an Enneagram 1, if any of you were curious) a lot of anxiety! I can’t fix it; I can’t problem-solve it. I can’t hide in my routine because there is no routine. I am forced to be at the mercy of whatever the day brings.
Ben talked about the shadow of our strengths and how noticing this is so important, especially during trying times, so we don’t damage our relationships. While I feel that I am capable of managing how I react to and love others well, I’m finding that I do not extend that same grace to myself.
This often shows up for me when I’m standing in my kitchen. That long list of things “to do” starts going through my head. I think to myself, in order to be a good wife, mother, and employee, these things need to be done today! And because I can typically get through my list in a day, I hold myself to that standard every day, which only elevates my anxiety.
Then the phone rings. One of my children needs me, and off I go in a different direction to take care of that.
At the end of the day, when I can’t complete my list, the self-condemning thoughts come as soon as my head hits the pillow. It’s almost like I can’t rest because I don’t deserve it. I become an anxious presence for myself, and if I don’t catch myself from going down that rabbit hole, I fall in, and my peaceful sleep is gone.
I did not allow that list to get in the way of loving the people around me, but I did let it get in the way of loving myself. I have a deep-down need to be a good Christian and prove I’m worthy of God’s love by doing a bunch of good things every day.
That need is a lie.
As I learn to surrender my lists and my expectations to Jesus, I receive the truth: He chose me, “even before he made the world … to be holy and without fault in his eyes” (Ephesians 1:4). “God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure” (Ephesians 1:5).
And that has zero to do with my list!
What expectations have you put on yourself that might not be yours to carry?
Have you allowed God to define your worth, or are you trying to be “good enough” for God?
Get rid of your list and use that time to listen to what God is saying to you right now.
Share with a friend what God said to you and decide what your next step is going to be.
Lord, we need you more than you know right now. Please break through our walls and our anxieties and let us feel your peace in our daily walk. Teach us how to hear you more and lead us to freedom by growing our faith in you! Amen.
This post was written by April Willer, a regular contributor to the LivingItOut Bible Study.
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