January 22, 2011

“Therefore, do not be anxious for tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” ~Matthew 6:34

I just want to curl up, cozy with a mug of blueberry tea and read.

My deep dark confession: I don’t want to journal tonight.

Hate me. Stone me. Boycott me. Shun me. Cast me out of the synagogue. I don’t care. Just don’t take away my book.

Of secondary interest: Lydia has been purging, and doing a right smart job of it, too. In fact, I dare say her bookshelf looks better than mine.

Amber stopped by on her way back from Mountain Home. “My therapist is so awesome!” she exulted. “She assigned me homework of looking up verses to see what God says about my worth.” I stood my iron up and reached for my Bible as we began to discuss some verses. Because self-esteem is not the issue. We didn’t make ourselves. But recognizing God’s work—and ourselves as His creations—that is the esteem we must cultivate. Amber sat on my bed, carefully attaching flowers to a couple of headbands—creating. In the end, she had a couple of fun, new accessories. Creation. Something we learned from God.

I’ve achieved emotional equilibrium. I decided I would never be anxious again. Or discouraged. It’s just not worth the emotional energy and besides that, it accomplishes nothing. I’ve come to grips with the fact that life is difficult, but I can’t help surviving. Until my time comes to die (which blessing I will embrace with rapture *ooh, a pun*), I will manage to survive everything else that happens to me, whether I try or not. I can’t lengthen my life by worrying. And, frankly, I can’t actually shorten it, either. My times are in His hand. So I might as well forget about worrying.

The end.

I told Tabby of my resolution today, via Bluetooth attached to my ear while I deep-cleaned the far end of the house. On the other end of the line, I could hear a moment of profound silence followed by her giggle. “Well, if you’ve really figured that one out,” came her reply, “then you’d better write a book. It would be a best-seller.”

A pause before I rejoined. “Well, I started to…but it was really stressing me out.”

We were having one of our “entertain ourselves at our own expense” pow-wows. First we make a case for why a besetting weakness is so stupid. Next, we point out how that besetting weakness besets us. If you’re ever hard up for laughs, poke fun at yourself. With someone who knows you well. I promise, you know all the best places to poke.

It’s like this: we can’t stand drama. In fact, we often shrug when we see others stressed out and comfort them with words like, “It’s not such a big deal, really. You’ll survive.” Of course, that’s because we have earth-shaking, ear-shattering, moon-melting, sun-darkening, global-warming-kinds of crisis in our lives. You know, the kinds of drama we look back on and think, “That really wasn’t such a big deal. I survived.” That kind of drama. And we are always calm, cool, collected and…you guess it. Stressed out. You try surviving global warming. If the polar ice caps melt, the world will be flooded!

Which is why I’ve decided not to be anxious.

Besides that, the flood is past and promised never to occur again. The world will be destroyed with fire!

I suppose that would cause some global warming. Nothing a new heaven and new earth won’t solve. And the best part is what dwells in the new heaven and earth—righteousness.

Surprising, isn’t it, how poking fun at yourself can bring you into a proper perspective?

Even between the time I talked to Tabby and the time I am journaling when I don’t want to, that nauseating fear of failure has gripped my mind a half dozen times. Yipes! Someone actually bought into my whole “I am a smart person who can tutor your poor child” ad? My hands start shaking as I type a very pert, very professional e-mail response. Do I even remember eighth grade math? I think I can hear my bones rattling. Eek! Did I totally oversell myself answering that florist that I am pretty familiar with RussVegas? Can I memorize a map before Valentine’s Day? What if he wants me to do more work? Am I capable of negotiating? My heart melts into a pool of wax and drains out a crack in the bottom of my shoe. Oh yeah! Those poor homeschool mothers. Are they signing their kids up for class number boring? Maybe I shouldn’t have revealed that I’m a published author. It’s not like I’ve written a Newberry. Can I ever deliver to the expectations I raised with that one? My adam’s apple swells to the size of a grapefruit. And this CNA stuff. Um. What if I totally fail the boards? And what if I can’t make enough money? What if I can’t hold down a job? What if I can’t, you know, do things right?

And then rushes in the determination. I have to. I don’t have a choice. I just will. Other people do it. I can, too.

On its heels gallops the third horse of the apocalypse: his rider’s name is discouragement. I don’t want to become a CNA and work in a nursing home. Sure, CNA sounds like a wise first step in the medical field, as well as a very useful set of service abilities. And I don’t think medical training is ever wasted. But I can hardly bear nursing homes. I really don’t want to tutor. What if the kid isn’t even willing to work at it? I don’t want a “job.”

Last comes the pale rider of emotional numbness. When I suddenly realize that I’m not feeling anything. Sure the anxiety is gone. And the discouragement. In its place lurks a pale, sunless-moonless sort of existence.

You can see why I’ve resolved not to be anxious.

Jesus commanded me not to be anxious.

Ah! But there is a deeper current to His words than my paltry resolution has demonstrated. “Do not be anxious for your Heavenly Father…”

He knows what we need. He provides. That’s why I’m supposed to seek His kingdom first and His righteousness.

It doesn’t really matter whether it’s a big deal or not.

He doesn’t function on back-up plans like His tiny creations. He just has one sovereign plan. And it includes earth-shattering, ear-splitting, moon-melting, sun-darkening and, yes, some serious global-warming. Followed up by a new heaven and new earth in which righteousness dwells.

Oh yeah! Bring it on!

I’ll probably be hiding in the cleft of the rock until it’s all over.

You spoke the world into existence by the power of Your Word,

And You will slay the prideful devil with the same eternal sword.

This, this power that stretched the heavens from the corners of the sky

Is the power proceeding from You on which a man must feed, or die.

This Word that You spoke, oh so softly, as a fragile, wordless babe

Will be thundering back in glory, turning every word to praise.

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