I put it off for weeks knowing that God called me to read, learn and then teach this book Overcoming Fear, Worry, and Anxiety. I just didn’t want to go there in my head and have to deal with the emotions. Struggling with fear and worry came naturally to me, and sometimes it’s hard to confront comfortable patterns even when we know they are destructive because we don’t know what the process will produce.
I finally read the whole book months later, and I am still learning and struggling but with the hope that fear and my feelings don’t have to master me. The feelings may still be there, but they don’t have to control me. I can choose to act in faith even when it is contrary to what my feelings are telling me. There are times, though, when I would gain some ground in the battle in my mind against fear and have some victory, and then it felt like I would take two steps backward—maybe even the next day or hour!
Then, I read a blog that a friend from college, Carey McNamara, wrote about her struggle with feeling shame over taking steps backward. Here are some words from my friend’s blog, and she also quotes Lysa Terkeurst from her book Unglued:
[Terkeurst] encourages us to view our raw emotions as a call to action, explaining that “Outward expressions are internal indications. If our outward expressions are unglued, there’s some brokenness internally. Broken places we won’t address unless we are forced to acknowledge their existence…God doesn’t allow the unglued moments in our lives to happen so we’ll label ourselves and stay stuck. He allows the unglued moments to make us aware of the chiseling that needs to be done.” So instead of condemning myself with statements like, “I’m such a mess,” I could say, “Let God chisel.” Let Him work on my hard places so I can leave the dark places of being stuck and come into the light of who he designed me to be.
I began to renew my mind with God’s truth about who He is for me, and who I really am as His child. But since it takes time to rewire our brains, for new truths to filter down and actually affect our behavior, I needed to be patient with myself. In reality, God was not disappointed in me when I messed up again; rather, He was smiling every time I acknowledged my failures and turned to Him for help. I love the analogy Michelle Perry once used – she explained that God looks at us trying to get things right, like a parent looks at their child learning to walk. The toddler wobbles with uncertainty, eager to walk, but then takes a few steps and trips and falls. But we don’t yell and say, “You should have done a better job!” Instead, we pick them up with joy, wipe away their tears and say, “Way to go – you did it – you took a couple of steps! Now let’s try that again together. I’m right here if you need my hand…and I’ll pick you up if you fall.”
Lysa put it well when she coined the term imperfect progress, “slow steps of progress wrapped in grace.” She writes: “Progress. Just make progress. It’s okay to have setbacks and the need for do-overs. It’s okay to draw a line in the sand and start over again – and again. Just make sure you’re moving the line forward. Move forward. Take baby steps, but at least take steps that keep you from being stuck. Then change will come. And it will be good.”
There is grace upon grace and I’m thankful for it. That grace makes me want to get up, try to listen to the Holy Spirit, and obey again today. 1 Corinthians 3:18 says: we must become foolish so that we may become wise. Maybe that’s what’s going on with me. God is helping me humbly see that I must depend on Him for all wisdom about all things of Him because in my logical mind I can’t make sense of it myself.
Do any of you wonder if you will ever get it right or if the same struggles will be with you for all your days? Then let’s walk this journey together, and with the help of the Holy Spirit, let’s overcome our fears, worry, and anxiety. Join me on September 5th as I lead a study of the book: Overcoming Fear, Worry, and Anxiety by Elyse Fitzpatrick. The study will take place on Wednesday nights from 6:15-7:30pm in Room 108/109. To sign up for the class and order a book, please email: Allie Weaver.
Counseling & Prayer Director