Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Word for the Year: Peace

Back in late September, I sensed the Lord spoke something to me very clearly: "Suffering is coming, but I'll be with you."

I stiff-armed the "suffering" half of the message because I was trying hard to be upbeat. The summer had been difficult enough, what with accepting our school closing and being without half my children for eight weeks.

But then came pain like I hadn't known in eight years. Pain that doubled me over and nearly sent me to the ER. Pain that forced me to have an MRI to determine the severity of the cause. Pain that convinced me to have the source surgically removed. (The surgery is next week.)

Back in the fall, things weren't going well in several relationships either, so I felt alone in many ways. Some relationships have improved, others worsened. Sometimes you just have to distance yourself from people who continually cause pain. And you have to let go of the expectation that people who claim to love you will call and ask how you're doing.

The last thing I needed to combat physical pain was the fear of forthcoming suffering. I have a lot of fears, and am at war with anxiety much of the time. It's strange; I sort of "grew into" this sin, because as a child I was carefree and happy. As a teenager my biggest fear was getting a pimple or forgetting my cheerleading socks on game day. As a college student, I feared getting less than an A in any class of my major, or less than a B in any non-major class. As a newlywed, I became a little more tenuous; was my cooking good enough? Did my husband regret getting married to someone so flawed? When the baby came along, forget it. My self-confidence went kaput. I felt guilty practically from the day I found out I was pregnant. Mother Guilt looms larger than a 9-month preggo belly and sticks around till...I least till after college graduation (because none of my four has reached that milestone yet).

In the middle of all this, I had the gall to say I wasn't a worrier. I poo-pooed others for worry, thinking things like, "Are you crazy? You worry about something THAT small in the whole scheme of things?" or "Just get over it. It's only money." Or, of shy people I'd think, "That's stupid to be anxiety-ridden over meeting new people. Don't be so self-conscious that you're not others-conscious. Shyness is selfishness."

Fast forward to about the year 2001. Suddenly I began to experience anxiety, not just depression. Little things I would've counted as trivial concerns suddenly became larger than life, like those dumb inflatable chimpanzees at a new car dealer's lot. Claustrophobia kept me from sharing an elevator with more than four people. Lying flat on my back put me into panic mode. Driving made me nervous (not altogether irrational since I'd been in two accidents, not my fault, in the year 2000). Feeling like I was always forgetting something made me fear early-onset Alzheimer's. Choosing the wrong word in a conversation made my face turn red. Stupid, huh?

Fears mounted to large scale. Fear of paralysis. Losing a child. Losing Paul. Infidelity. A house fire. Drowning (which really did nearly happen in 2000 at Rehoboth Beach, with two of my kids when we were pulled out by undertow).

A decade is too long to contend with anxiety and fear. What am I truly believing about God when I quake inside, when I try to avoid situations in which I have no control? Am I deceived into thinking I even HAVE control? Do I believe He loves me like a good father? My own father gave me every proof by example that God is a good Father, so why have I doubted so many times?

It's probably that I want to share control--to let God give me the "feel good" stuff while I stay on guard against anything uncomfortable. At the core, I believe I don't deserve to suffer. That's my #1 problem.

------------More later---------------------


Rachelle said...

This hit close to home. I remember a few years ago when I first experienced anxiety. You're right on, it is about control and the belief that we don't deserve to suffer...can't wait to read more.
Great word for the new year.

Laurie said...

Thanks Zo! Write on! Suffering is strange. It draws us out and calls us deeper in, yet holds us back until we yield, surrender and abandon our fears to the God of our lives (and deaths). It's truly a spiritual exercise and battle!

"Lead on, O King eternal,
we follow, not with fears,
for gladness breaks like morning
where'er thy face appears.
Thy cross is lifted o'er us,
we journey in its light;
the crown awaits the conquest;
lead on, O God of might."