A good portion of my life was spent living riddled with anxiety. My family should have bought stock in Pepto-Bismol because I carried the pink cocktail everywhere I went...just in case I might get a stomach ache.
Instead of living like the lilies of the field, I was anxious about what I wore and what everyone thought of me. Especially my dad, who didn’t seem to know how to communicate acceptance in a way I understood, so my performance never seemed to be enough. Living to please others created a fear of man, instead of fearing God.
I didn’t grow up submitting to a Heavenly Father because in my little girl mind, I equated God with my earthly dad who despite many great qualities, seemed harsh and demanding. It’s taken me a long time to bask in the love of God within the context of reverence, awe, and a healthy fear of Him. How about you? Have you unknowingly resisted the love of God because of an absent or abusive father?
Exploring religion as a way to find God left me hungry for more than rules and regulations. I’m so grateful to be living proof of the truth of Jeremiah 29:13:
“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”
Finding a relationship with God through His Son Jesus Christ set my heart free from the regulations of religion. It would be many more years though, before I would be free of anxiety.
You see, deep in my treasure box I stored feelings of inadequacy, desires for control and issues with trust. Under those emotions were deep seated questions I was afraid to ask and a layer of pride I didn’t recognize. Ever feel that way? Trapped by emotions you’re afraid to share?
It’s impossible to seek God’s kingdom first when we’re busy building or protecting our own.
None of us truly have the control over our lives we think we do. Choosing what to eat, drink, and wear brings a level of comfort, but a false sense of security and control.
Instead, we have the option of clothing ourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ. We don’t have to be slaves of sin, always seeking to gratify the desires of our flesh. Spoiler alert: our flesh will never be satisfied. Living for self always leaves us feeling empty, longing for more.
Jesus tells us to love our neighbor as ourselves; so it’s important we have a healthy love for ourselves as the person God designed. We are created in His image and therein lies our self esteem. He has a special plan for each one of us; giving us self worth. Unfortunately, we live in a culture obsessed with self.
We must guard against self care slipping into selfishness.
As God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, we are encouraged by Paul in Colossians 3:12 to clothe ourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.
We need to gift ourselves with those qualities as well lavish them on others. When we seek to build God’s kingdom, our anxiety will lesson. Focus on the Father can turn worry into worship. Anxious thoughts slowly find their way to accepting trust, and fear will find the path to faith.