I’m the type of person that always needs tools close at hand to help me relax. Case in point, I currently have beside me a squishy hamburger-stress-reliever-thing and a pair of those sizzler magnets. They’re both very worn out; the squishy hamburger looks like it belongs in a Sad Meal at McDonald’s.
I need them because my mind always seems to find something to be worried about. Mind you, not just some butterflies in the stomach; it’s more like end-of-the-world, trying to maintain my dignity by not ugly crying in front of everybody sort of anxiety. I’m always thinking about what might happen, might not happen, what someone might think or say, etc. That’s one reason why it takes me so long to post these; I start worrying about how it will be received and second-guess myself until I don’t know what to write.
In my conversations with God I find myself using Him as a doctor. I vent all my issues to Him and hope He gives me something to make it all go away. Day after day I’ve spent begging God to take away my fear and anxiety like a hypochondriac seeking relief from a sickness they truly believe they have. At the same time, I’m similar to an unruly patient that refuses the treatment offered because I’ve become so used to how it feels that I can’t imagine not having it in my life. So, what I’m really asking God to do isn’t just to take away the fear, anxiety, and depression, but to take away my addiction to them.
To describe it as an addiction, however, would suggest I get some kind of enjoyment out of suffering. After all, one aspect of addiction is the euphoric or “rewarding” feeling it creates, is it not? So, what enjoyment would I get out of remaining in a festering pool of negative emotions every day of my life? What part of me does it satisfy?
In short, it satisfies my desire to give up.
Truth is, in order to become who I wanted to be, I would have to do that which I did not believe I could do. Change is hard. Admitting defeat is easy. Pushing myself beyond what I’m comfortable doing means challenging everything I believe about myself. Accepting my darkened disposition as my truth takes much less effort.
In order to challenge these beliefs, God decided to give me a taste of the future He has in store for me. A door was opened for me to use my writing in a much bigger way that could impact many people. The biggest obstacle I faced first was having people depend on me to produce results. Of course, the only person putting pressure on me was…me. Because I was looking at this project through the lens of my past, the outcome was predetermined to be exactly the same. You might have thought I was asked to produce a Pulitzer Prize-worthy composition in a matter of days the way I was acting.
Hence the worn-out stress relievers.
What really made the difference this time were the people. When you surround yourself with enough people who genuinely believe in your gifts and see the potential you’ve become blinded to, it will start to rub off eventually. That’s why living most of last year in near isolation was so detrimental to my mental health. The only voices I could hear were the whispers of lies and half-truths from within my mind.
I started opening up about what was going on inside my head (kind of hard to avoid the subject when you randomly burst into tears). That’s when I realized that all this pressure I’d been feeling was entirely my own doing. I thought that if I didn’t knock it out of the park the first time, then I would let everyone down and I would go back home to my bedroom and throw in the towel. After all, giving up is easier than trying to do the impossible.
Turns out, they were never looking for perfection; they chose me according to the potential they saw in me. I’m starting to see now how this reflects the character of God. He sees the potential in me, and now He’s molding me and preparing me for the purpose for which I am called to serve. It’s passion He seeks from me, not perfection. After a few very helpful conversations, I started to set more manageable expectations and place more trust in God’s faithfulness than my limited perspective.
For so long, even though I’ve been saved and given a new nature, I allowed my old nature to retain the throne of my life. Every thought I have, every action (or lack thereof) has been dictated by the old. I’ve been stuck in an old season I should have left long ago. God is preparing me to step into my new season. It’s up to me to make up my mind that I will not miss another opportunity.
I imagine I’ve missed plenty of opportunities because that fear of failure. Slowly, however, I’m learning to be okay with not knowing how it’ll all turn out. When I changed my perspective from, “I’m going to fail because I’m not good enough” to “even if I fail, I will still trust in God’s perfect will for my life”, I felt the old nature becoming dethroned.
Suddenly, I don’t have to be afraid of not knowing how it’ll turn out, because God holds my tomorrow. I don’t have to buy into the same old lies that kept me from ever being who God called me to be. Now I can say it’s easier to persist than to give in and risk missing out on all the abundance God has in store for me.
Maybe I don’t need those stress relievers after all.