Thursday, January 17, 2013

Panic or Peace

I used to be one who was easily worked up. I thought I was stuck with panic attacks and uncontrollable anxiety forever. My tendencies to over think were always justifiable. I felt it was only right to want to understand everything, even to the point of which it left me anxious striving on my own. I look back and realize how miserable I was, and how uncontrollable it all seemed as I watch others struggle with the same things. It seemed that this would be my affliction, just as Paul had his. It seemed I needed to learn to be content with the way things were and the issues within myself...but God.

Of course I have been saved for years prior but nothing ever changed in this area of my life. I got to my breaking point, as we all have to do, and I cried out for help because I couldn't take anymore of this constant stress that seemed to be making me sick. Of course I thought about trying medication but I felt God wanted something more from me. I couldn't take anymore of this lack of self control over my own mind. God heard my cries for help, brought me in close and put a desire on my heart for intimacy with Him. It was because of that intimacy that I was changed, not because of my own doings. It was because of the strength I see in Him, that I can rest just knowing that no matter what - He is still in control.

This is not to say I never fail, or never get worked up. It's not to say that I never for a moment forget what I've learned. But I will say this, I don't fall near as far and I bounce back in a fraction of the time it used to take me. You won't find this peace in owning things, your dream job, your family, or anything else for that matter. And I firmly believe that our peace, as a believer, speaks louder than anything we say or do.

He isn't going to force His way on us. We have to want it. He wants us to seek it. We have to realize that our way doesn't work first and then we have to ask for His help. Until we are sick and tired of our own ways, we will be constantly at battle with His ways.

It's obvious to me, as I watch people get so easily riled up and carry the weight of the world on their shoulders, that we can't change ourselves. We can't even see our desperation until we are far beyond it. Even then, we scramble around in the dark looking for someone to help us and we cry out to God mostly because He's our last option - but why shouldn't He be our first?

You see, the problem with we humans is that we want help but we don't want to have to give anything up - especially our "cherished" mindsets. We want to do things our own way...so we have to learn this lesson before we can move forward.

I've put together a list of thoughts He has taught me and I want to share them with you.
  • Don't over think things. You don't have to understand it all, no matter what your brain tells you. Faith is sometimes believing and obeying in the absence of proof.
  • Don't bottle it up or lie about how you feel. This stuff has to be addressed or it will come out the wrong way. Talk to God about it, ask for explanations from others when it makes sense, or ask for insight from Him. But don't let your issues turn into hate and resentment. A hard heart and unforgiveness will hinder your prayers.
  • Learn that other people's issues aren't about you, even when they affect you. You can only work through your own. The best thing you can do for them is be consistent, love them and pray for them.
  • Don't get defensive when facing accusations or insults. It's always a good thing to explain yourself, but if you are doing what you truly know is right you have nothing to defend. Notice that Jesus didn't get defensive. He said very little. It's not about being confident in yourself. it's about having a godly confidence.
  • Don't expect other people to fix you or heal your pain. They can't even do this for themselves any more than you can.
  • Don't overreact when things aren't going your way. Life isn't about making you comfortable and happy...our best opportunities as Christians is during our suffering. We were never promised a rose garden as believers.
  • Love others for who they are, and accept that you can't change them. I've learned that if I ask God for understanding, I can learn far more about a person. Showing love doesn't mean we don't set healthy boundaries in how they treat us, it means we show them love no matter how we feel.
  • Don't be cynical. That just shows your over-dependence on people to fix you and your lack of faith in God. I don't believe we have to be cynical to be realistic and faithful. Being cynical comes off as angry to others...and anger never made anyone feel loved or at ease. Anger is selfishness 99% of the time. Jesus wasn't selfish.
  • You don't need the approval of others. When you think you do, you are at their mercy and a prisoner to human emotions and actions. You only need the acceptance of God and you already have that.
  • Trust God - no matter what. Trust His timing, trust that He can make any situation good for you spiritually (because that's where it matters most.)
  • Don't let other people determine your relationship with God. People are going to fail you...you are going to fail them. Being let down isn't the end of the world when your God is still in control. Focus on Him and on serving Him, not so much what's in it for you. I have found that if I focus on people for too long, I become resentful and sometimes angry. This impacts my relationship with Him.
  • Don't focus on your wants and needs more than you focus on serving others. There really is healing in putting others first.
  • Ask that He make you more like Him and ask that regularly. Focus on who He is by staying in the Bible. Ask for more faith when you are doubting. Focus on the reasons to believe and not the ones not to.
  • Study and read His word regularly. You need His truths implanted in your mind in order to combat the old man in you.
  • Pray....I can't emphasize enough that He wants us to seek Him and spend time with Him. Even though He knows our heart, He blesses prayer. There are countless places in the Old testament where the Israelites cried out and He responded to their cries. It had nothing to do with how great they were, but how great He is.
  • Continue godly habits even when it seems they aren't working. It takes time to kill off our old ways. And Satan wants you to think godly habits don't work.

I want to encourage you that it doesn't have to be this way--you don't have to bottle it up, over think it or fix issues everywhere. We as believers, don't have to be victims to every circumstance, situation or the thoughts / actions of others. Faith overcomes that. We were meant to be overcomers in spite of suffering. People are watching and they desperately need to see us live what we say we believe. Our attitude shows our measure of faith more than we realize.

2 comments:

  1. Amazing advice. Your list of steps detail a pathway to a much calmer life.

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