As I sat with my father drinking coffee on the back patio of our favorite little local haunt, we spoke of the events in the last few days, weeks, and months, and how they’ve affected me and our family as a whole. For those who don’t know, there’s been some deaths and some near-deaths surrounding my loved ones and there’s still a lot up in the air that requires more faith in God than most things visibly call for. It’s not been easy, between internal struggles and external physical pain.
I spend far too much of my every day dwelling on one word, one concept: worry. I do it religiously. I worry more than I pray. And where it gets me does me no good – I wind up surrounded by anxiety, I become considerably irritable toward the people around me, and for what? It holds absolutely no ground. It shows on my face. People ask what’s wrong, and I relish in that attention, no matter how aware I am how unhealthy this practice is. It’s no secret that my problems frequently stem from the fact that there has not risen an occasion by chance for me to talk about the minor things that have worried me. So instead, I wait and I wait. I wait until something’s built up into a big old cloud above my head and unleash the storm onto whoever is around. Which is generally my mother or my boyfriend.
During the winter and early spring months, I was surrounded with exams, cold weather, and an icy-themed life built up around me. I was cold when I walked outside, and I was cold to people around me. I won’t lie and say that’s been solved, by any means, and if anything I’m learning to speak my mind with fewer censors than I’ve ever had, and I owe a lot of that to dating somebody who encourages me to not keep anything in. I’ll admit, that’s been a nice and enabling change. So for that, thank you to my boyfriend. Some of it comes from my own personal growth and learning about my real identity in God. That’s been a cool and rewarding journey in and of itself, because my “voice” (paraphrasing my counselor of three years here), which was shut down at a young age, resulted in a severe case of unwillingness to share anything at all. There is remarkable counter-activity that’s grown out of knowing and dating a man who doesn’t share that struggle and uses the perspective that I don’t have to help me grow.
What I did before I knew how to share my thoughts and opinions is simple: I worried. I thought through every possible circumstance and every outcome of every choice I could make. I spent hours poring over what I did wrong and the opinions of the people I’ve interacted with.
Let me take a moment to emphasize how unhealthy this is. First, it’s a delusion of control that absolutely does not exist. I have so much less control than I feel or think. Sure, it’s fun to pretend, to make choices and say we predicted the outcome. But the most comforting thing in the world to me is knowing that it’s not like that. You do your best. You be honest. You talk to people and love people and spend time investing in people. But at the end of the day, every single breath is a gift. A gift that comes straight from God.
So once I’ve come to terms with this, which happens three or four times per day, the next thing that I need to address is that my identity is never going to be in what I accomplish or how much I earned, spent, or learned. Though all these are important in their time and place, it will never have the power to define me. My definition and my identity can come from only one place, and my name is Gwenyth Carol, daughter of God via Jesus the Christ, and I am beloved, I am who I am supposed to be, and every day is only a lesson and opportunity to grow in exactly that. There is so much you can do with this knowledge, though, and that’s where step three comes in. What are you going to do now that you know you are God’s beloved? When the most important thing in the world to my eternal is already taken care of, the most influential thing I can do then is possible. The chief purpose of man, to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. How cool is that? I’ve already got everything I need to do what is going to fulfill the desire in me to be complete. It’s there and it’s tangible.
Keep this in mind as you go through every minute of every day: “Worry is letting something that’s not God speak to you.”
How cool is that?