Last night, as I was heading for bed, all of a sudden my heart started racing. I sat down, the lay down, and tried to relax. I was exhausted, but every time I seemed to drift off toward sleep, I awoke with a start, heart pounding, muscles tense, afraid something must be very, very wrong.
I woke DH up twice to pray for me. I tried to pray myself as well, but it all seemed to sound like, “God, I just don’t know what’s going on. Help!” It was finally this morning, after everyone else was awake, that I got a few hours of good solid sleep. I still don’t know what happened. To all appearances it was a major panic attack. Usually, though, when I experience anxiety, I can pinpoint something that I’m worried about, something that’s set me off. I just couldn’t figure out what that was last night, which made everything seem that much scarier.
Today, I’m feeling worn out. I’ve been sick with a nasty cold for about a week and a half. The kids seem to get sick, then get better a few days later, but when I’ve caught something, it just seems to hang on and on and on, long past when I need to be back to my regular activities. I want to rest when my body tells me to rest and take time out to heal, yet I never seem to have the time I need. So I worry that I’m doing real damage to myself, wearing out my heart or something.
Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. (II Corinthians 4:16-18, NIV)
I need some of that inward renewal today. My body is exhausted. Stress and illness and too many months of broken up sleep and not eating very well and whatever else I’m fighting in this uphill battle. Yet, as Paul points out, all of this is temporary. Even the burdens that last for years, it’s only a few years in a lifetime, and just a moment in light of eternity. I know that, yet in the middle of such troubles, it’s sometimes hard to see past them to You.
Maybe that’s the problem: I’m letting these “light and momentary troubles” come between You and me. I have trouble seeing You because I haven’t invited You past my fears and anxieties and sickness and stress. I’m asking You to come take them away, without letting You close enough to do so. I’m afraid that if I really share this all with You, You’ll look at the mess of my life and be disgusted.
“She’s made such a mess of the life I’ve given her,” I’m afraid You’ll say. “Such a shame. She had such potential.”
I don’t want You to be ashamed of me. I want to make You proud. I want to make good choices in my life that glorify You. But I lose heart. I feel defeated by my circumstances. I am afraid that I don’t have what it takes, I can’t please You because I’m just not good enough.
I forget that none of us is good enough (Romans 3:23). Even as I look around me, comparing myself to the “better” people, the ones I see who seem to have it all together, who are going out into the world and doing big things for You, I think that they must be different somehow than I am. They must have more self-control or greater willpower or otherwise something better inside than I do. And yet, the only difference between the “great” people and me, is You. If they have something better inside, it’s You (Acts 1:8). And You are the One who shines through them, it’s You showing the love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, and everything else (Galatians 5:22-23).
God, I want You to be Lord of everything in my life. Not just the pretty parts. Not just the parts I’m proud of. I want You to be closer to me than my fears, closer than whatever stressful situation I find myself in. I want these cracks and holes and ragged edges in my being to serve a purpose–to allow Your glory to shine out from me (II Corinthians 4:6-7).
Thank You for making me worthy of Your love. Thank You that Your grace is not dependent on my behavior or good will or getting all the things on my to-do list accomplished. Thank You for loving miserable, messy me. And thank You for picking me up, above the mess and the misery, to make me perfect and holy (Hebrews 10:14).