Busy is an alien feeling for me. Work may at times get hectic, but everything gets done and I go home. Not much is required of me, at home. Of course, in the past few years, I have set some expectations for myself about how I use my time. I knew that God wanted more from me than to sit around on the weekends. So, I set to work and wrote the book that God had put on my heart. As I was looking into getting published, I started this blog. Though it is self-imposed, I feel a burden to post a readable and potentially edifying article each week. It has become a side job that I take seriously. I have been at this for over a year, and it has become a routine that I plan for each week. I have found that I enjoy the discipline of writing and editing regularly.
As I have mentioned in previous blogs, my sister and I intend to move in a couple of months. Planning is in overdrive as we research new places and rid ourselves of anything we don’t want to take with us. It has become another part-time job. It is fun, at times, but the pressure is mounting as the clock ticks down on our current lease. It just so happens that the same month we are planning to move, I will be taking a certification exam for work. It is an opportunity that I have waited several years for, but I have a lot of studying to do. The exam completes a trifecta of stress in my life.
Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.
1 Peter 5:6-7
Over the past month, I have assessed my situation and concluded that I should be overwhelmed. My depression being what it is, I have never responded well to this kind of stress. I used to go into avoidance mode because I didn’t know how to handle everything that was expected of me. Putting things off led to more stress and worse depression. These past few weeks, I have reacted quite differently. I have been focused. I am staring down the challenge and getting things done. I don’t know how everything will work out, yet when I evaluate my emotions, I find the most foreign feeling of them all: contentment. For years I wrestled with this word, trying to find peace with where God had put me. Now, here I am at peace in the middle of a big challenge.
Not one to let my feelings go unexamined, I have been eager to identify why I am handling things so well. I have come to a couple of conclusions. This first is that I have learned to trust God more. Perhaps this seems overly simplistic. Yet, the Apostle Paul told us in Philippians 4:12-13 that the secret to contentment is that Christ will give us the strength to handle any circumstance. If we don’t believe that He will strengthen us, if we try to rely on our own efforts, we will not know the peace that overcomes anxiety. As humans, we want to be do-it-yourselfers. Yet, it is one thing to not rely on other people, and quite another to not rely on God.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
As Christians, learning to trust God and rely on Him is absolutely essential to living the life He has called us to. We are either living for ourselves, trying to go it alone, or we are living for Him and therefore dependent on Him for the strength and grace that we need each day. Of course, most of us live somewhere in between, where we are striving to shed our human instincts and learning to truly trust God in every facet of life. My current circumstance is showing me that I have made noticeable progress on this journey. The result of trusting God more is added joy and peace. Certainly, if I think too long on everything that I need to do, the anxiety starts to creep into my gut. That is when I have to remind myself to let God carry this burden for me. I know He won’t let me down.
A second conclusion I have reached is that I am doing what I am supposed to be doing. I don’t believe I could have this peace, joy, or contentment outside of God’s will. I love my job because God created me for it and put me in it. I love to learn, so studying for the upcoming exam energizes me. God also made me to be a writer. Writing this blog each week, I have a sense that I am doing what He wants me to do. I even feel God’s leading in our move. When we began to consider staying for another year, He sent another problem to dissuade us. He is clearly pointing to a new living situation. I am hopeful and excited, even with the stress of everything I need to do in the next two months.
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hears be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”
Over the past several years, I have been known to complain that nothing in my life ever changes. Now, as I juggle the competing obligations, I am recognizing that things have changed and are changing. As humans, we tend not to like change. But I have peace because everything is where it should be: in God’s hands.