Friend, there is so much I would like to be able to tell you.
It sounds like you are striving so hard to make everything work out the way you think it “should” Trying to please other people, to meet their expectations as well as your own. On top of all that we add the “shoulds” of how we are supposed to live the right kind of Christian life; pray more, serve more, read the bible more, give more, be patient, kind, loving and forgiving all the time. No wonder we get anxious. There is no way to do it all and do it well.
The good news is God knows this. He knows you cannot do it. You cannot be good enough to please Him. You cannot even always please other people. God knows we perfectionists are never good enough to please ourselves, we are our own worst enemy. But here it is – you don’t have to. Right now, from this moment on, you never have to do one more right thing in your life ever and God would still love you with a perfect, all-encompassing, unconditional love. When you come to trust this as an absolute certainty in your life, you will be set free from anxiety.
Your head is full of worries, doubts and fears because you are looking at yourself – what you have done in the past that you regret, what you haven’t done which you think you should have done, and the things you are doing right now that aren’t good enough. I’m going to let you off the hook right now – you aren’t “good enough” It is impossible. No one else is either. Only Christ is truly good enough. Stop trying to be Him 🙂 You can’t. If you could do everything right, to the degree you think it ought to be done, you would be God. You aren’t. You are a mess, just like I am. I am ineffective, lazy, selfish, judgmental, full of pride and clueless. And I can’t change any of it.
God can though. He can transform my life. He can take away anxiety forever, without drugs. But only when we get our eyes off ourselves, off of judging what we are or are not, judging whether the situations in our lives are good or bad, and keep our thoughts focused on who God is. He is good enough. He is capable, courageous, competent, all-loving, all-knowing, sinless and perfect. We can take on those qualities, but not by anything we do ourselves. We change only as Jesus is revealed to us by the Holy Spirit. The more we know Him, the more we become like Him. It is not our job to try and be a better person or to do all the right Christian things. Our one and only job is to develop a deeper relationship with Christ by seeking Him first in every moment. Talk to Him. Ask Him to reveal Himself to you in fresh new ways every day. He will. And as you see Him more and more as real in your life, you will start to change by the work He does in you, not because you are striving to do better yourself.
Knowing good from evil is our downfall
Do you know what the original sin in the Garden of Eden was? It was Eve’s desire to know good from evil. Have you ever thought about why that might be a bad thing? I always wondered and one day it came to me. Only God is big enough and all-knowing enough to judge good from bad. He sees the whole picture from beginning to end. He knows why everything happens and He already has a plan in place to make it all, everything single little thing, work out to His glory and our good. We are not in any position to judge the events and situations of our life as good or bad. We can’t see the whole picture. We are not in charge of directing our lives. We are not in control. But we want to be. We want to look at something like a car accident, or a messed up presentation at work, or a physical pain and say “this is bad. I’m stressed about what might happen or about how I am going to deal with it.”
That response comes from our fleshly self, trying to judge good from evil and take over control of our lives from God. He tells us not to worry. He tells us He has everything under control and it’s all going to work out for our ultimate good. When we get anxious and stressed out it is because our thoughts are telling us lies which are in direct opposition to God’s truth. We are sinning and disobeying a direct command from God!
Here is what Rick Warren has to say about anxiety: “The number one reason you’re under stress is because you’re in conflict with God. You’re trying to control things that only God can control. You can’t control your husband or your kids or your wife or your job or your future or your past or any of that stuff. The more you do it, the more you’re trying to play God, and that puts you in opposition to God. Not only are you going to lose that conflict, but you’re also going to be tired.” Rick Warren.org
I have taken to writing down in a little book all of the verses I come across in scripture that speak to my specific needs. I review them regularly because it feeds my spirit and strengthens my trust that God’s word IS true in my life. Here is just one of them:
Psalm 5:12 says the Lord will bless those who trust in Him, His favor surrounds them like a shield. The word favor here means God’s pleasure, good will and acceptance. To those who trust Him, God himself, personally, surrounds them with his love and acceptance. No weapon of the enemy can penetrate that shield. Learning to trust fully in the Lord, letting Him take care of every burden, means we enjoy the fullness of His provision instead of striving to provide for everything ourselves.
God is taking anxiety out of my life and one of the major sources of help for me was Neil Anderson’s book Freedom from Fear. ( that link will take you right to the book ) I took a couple days off and worked through the book carefully and thoroughly. It changed my life. God is using it to complete change my thinking and to set me free from the lies I use to believe. I hope it blesses you as well. God led me through this season so I can share His hope and His truth with others. Please feel free to share your struggles and your triumphs below so we can all bless one another.
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