by David Brenneman
"The Lord will command His lovingkindness in the daytime; And His song will be with me in the night, A prayer to the God of my life." Psalm 42:8
I was sharing yesterday with some great guys in our Saturday Morning Group about my bouts with anxiety. Then a Godincidence happened. This verse came up this morning.
It's been a very long time since I wrote something from a PC, 99.9 percent of all the others have been through my phone or tablet. So we'll see how this goes with formatting.
Me anxious? Yes. When did this start? It does have a beginning. It actually began the week we first moved to Columbus, Ohio. I wasn't aware of the depths of it due to being so immersed in what I had been told is the 'culture' that surrounds a very-large, essentially, 'college' city. Columbus is where the Ohio State University is.
In 20+ years of living in that environment you don't realize how quickly you get pulled into being what I term "pro-reactive". You have to anticipate your reactions to other people's reactions. Some today call this 'unconscious bias'. The looking at your behaviors and how you might be reacting to others in your world due to your own preconceived ideas and thoughts concerning them. To me it's much more indepth.
You learn how to be prepared for what 'might' happen and actually form your world around both personal protection and protecting others in your 'circle'. Beit family or friends. While society at large down there goes on concerning all you can do in and around Columbus, in all reality it's just as dangerous a place to live as say Cleveland, Toledo or Cincinnati. The police can't be everywhere. Help honestly can't be everywhere. So you learn how to essentially go out, get done what you need done and return to your 'castle'.
We lived in an ordinary sub-division. Yet most of the time you didn't see your neighbor's. Interactions with them were honestly rare.
For us at least we tried to reach out at just about every church we attended...and yes we attended quite a few trying to find a church 'home'. Hinde sight shows us that we didn't find one due to it not being God's plan for us yet. That wouldn't come until we would move.
My anxiety here is still linked to the associations of feelings and situations from down there. I had a very bad bout of anxiety a few Friday's ago. Just out driving up to get my truck looked at and WHAM there I was in this mind-set for hours. I had no rational reason for it other than thinking that maybe I was trying to figure out how to react to what news I would be told about my truck. That whole pro-reactive thing.
We go out to stores...both my Wife and I have problems being in heavily populated stores and not for the reasons of recent years that others do. Doesn't happen while at church. Just stores.
Before I had found and married my Wife, I used to work grocery. Part of what you learn on the job is to read people. Who's thinking of stealing and who's just there to shop. Take that idea and apply it to everywhere you go in Columbus. Just watch the news from down there and you will see the reasons for being that way. Violence and stupidity are evident everywhere.
So that's the sort of backstory. God's not abandoned us after we got here. The issue certainly isn't with God doing His part. I am re-learning who I am since moving. The hyper-environment isn't necessarily here as it was in our old hometown. After talking with each other on this yesterday we really think this is a form of PTSD. There's just going to be triggers but how we deal with those triggers is the key.
While my Wife was in the store yesterday I saw several Veteran's. Saw a few earlier in the day. People with every right to have PTSD. One, just from the short conversation I had with him after thanking him for his service, well his response spoke volumes. It's not related but in a way it is to how this country treats Veteran's. They wonder why so many have so many difficulties adapting back into this society and yet don't remotely do enough to understand them or their situations. In this one gentleman's eyes I could see the same sort of things that go through my mind when out in public.
In each of us we have the capacity to listen to or to ignore the temptations to give in to fears. We have an enemy of mankind who've turned to Christ Jesus for salvation who loves to get us to doubt our identity. To get us to stay away from others for any reason. He loves it when we justify our own reasons for staying away from other people.
Paul had every right and reason to consider himself unfit for duty in serving Jesus. Look at all the..well..horrors...he lived through. Beatings, being stoned several times, the list goes on. He could have just not gone to Jerusalem. Could have excused himself. Said he had done enough for Jesus now it's time for others to do it. Could have not appealed to Caesar. He would have been released a day later had he not uttered those words. Paul encouraged Timothy to keep on keeping on no matter what he faced as a Pastor. Paul taught to endure. Paul taught that our mission in this life isn't over until we are no longer breathing. He said to 'fight the good fight'.
Anxiety tends to suck the life out of 'fighting the good fight'.
Anxiety and fear tends to try to get us to think a 'detour' sign is on our walk with God. Let's be real here, that's what we think. We hit that wall and think that we HAVE to turn this way or that way to find peace and rest. Psalm 23 tends to disagree with that idea.
Fears and hurts from others, even those close to us, tend to do the same. We take on emotional beatings and hurts and think that's some sign to change the course of our lives.
Well, what if it's not what GOD wants you to do? What if He WANTS to teach you something about yourself and about Him? What if what is a perceived failure on your part or what looks to be a failure on His part really isn't at all?
What then? Well there's a sort of growth list in the New Testament. Perseverance is at the top of that list. To persevere is to push through. In Psalm 23 we are lead THROUGH. Our inclination is to essentially drop to the ground, cover our heads, and not want to move for fear of the situation getting worse. Jesus essentially grabs us by the scruff of the neck and says 'No, My Child. We press on."
In time I know what triggers my anxiety will lessen. Some of it is me just looking for things that aren't there that I was used to looking for in Columbus. The 20+ years in the wilderness are over. I have a Savior and Lord who is with me in my successes as well as my failures. He is with me in my anxious moments and when I'm not so anxious. We are commanded to be anxious for nothing but in everything by prayer and supplication make our requests known unto God. Does He NEED our list of anxiety's? No. Does He NEED our list of things causing them? No. Not at all. But as we often get told unless we admit a problem-in most cases verbally-then we don't acknowledge that problem in reality.
I know that my Savior leads me. Psalm 23. I know that He loves me unconditionally. That will never change. He can love me no less nor love me no more than He does in this moment of my life. His love for you cannot grow or lessen in any respect.
I know that part of my problem, as we talked yesterday, is in that here we are approaching three-quarters of a year into living in our new hometown and weekend after weekend still is often trying to fix or repair something. To find our 'new normal'. Peace and rest often aren't happening when things like this happen. Having a day of rest often doesn't happen. Something has to be done. We're still trying to make new friends. So more often than not we do not see anyone until the following Sunday that we know. In time this may change for the better. It's all in God's timing. People have to be willing to get to know us just as we have to overcome our pro-reactiveness to get to know them.
The song by Matthew West "The God Who Stays" means so much to me in my life right now. Here's some of the lyrics:
If I were You I would've given up on me by now
I would've labeled me a lost cause
'Cause I feel just like a lost cause
If I were You I would've turned around and walked away
I would've labeled me beyond repair
'Cause I feel like I'm beyond repair
Oh, but somehow You don't see me like I do
Somehow You're still here
You're the God who stays
You're the God who stays
You're the one who runs in my direction
When the whole world walks away
You're the God who stands
With wide open arms
And You tell me nothing I have ever done can separate my heart
From the God who stays
I used to hide
Every time I thought I let You down
I always thought I had to earn my way
But I'm learning You don't work that way, no
'Cause somehow You don't see me like I do
Somehow You're still here
You're the God who stays
In my good times and my bad times in my anxious thoughts and at peace...He IS the God who stays with me. Even when I don't know why my life has tumbles and why something just broke or why nothing has broke...He's still the God who Stays.
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