I think I need to tell this story.
This semester has been the nicest, hardest three-and-something months I think I’ve ever had. I’ve had lovely experiences and not-so-lovely experiences; all schoolwork aside, though, things’ve been kind of difficult. It’s a good difficult, I guess. Anyway, I’ve realized this semester how much I think that I never say (hence this blog), and I’ve realized how much I want to just say things. I’ve realized that I worry all the time.
I don’t want to worry all the time–I want to be known as the sort of person who is not stressed out by circumstances, who has a peace from God that isn’t shaken by constant overthinking. Maybe I’ve fooled some people, I don’t know. In general, though, it’s those things that I want to be known for that I struggle with the most. Worrying is one of these.
This morning I woke up thinking about a struggle that I thought I’d already given to God. I guess I’ve been more-or-less preoccupied the last couple of weeks, alternately worrying then remembering to be patient and trust God. Well, this morning was kind of rough–I’d be looking up one minute, thinking, in an Anne of Green Gables vein, how “lucky I was to live in a world with [Novembers],” and the next I’d be close to crying–I don’t know why.
I didn’t mean for this story to be a pity party, but I meant to get across the point that that’s what I’d been having the past few days: a long, drawn out pity party where I hold on fiercely to “what I wanted” and “what I thought,” even though I know those “what might have beens” are driving me slightly insane.
So I got to chapel, not expecting much to happen…and God did it again. Taught me the same lesson I’ve been learning most of my life: namely, that He knows me better than I know myself–and He cares for me in a way I can’t really understand right now.
I remember sitting with my homework opened to some random page, and then the speaker started reading the scripture passage, and I couldn’t see the page clearly anymore. He started reading Philippians 4, and this is what I heard at exactly the moment I needed it:
Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy–meditate on these things.
Be anxious for nothing. In everything, by prayer and supplication–with thanksgiving–present your requests to God and the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
The speaker didn’t know the state of my heart, the state of my mind–he didn’t know that the moment he started reading, my soul felt lighter and gladder than it has in a quite a while. God knew.
The funny thing is that all this has happened before. I mean it–all of it. Well, maybe not the chapel part, actually. The last time I learned the lesson was at the beginning of last semester: I was stressed out over piano lessons and other things (which I barely remember now), and went to help with the AWANA club at a local church. Similar to today, I was near tears the entire time, thinking about how hard things were, and the kid I was helping read held up the verse she’d received. Philippians 4: 6-8: Be anxious for nothing. With thanksgiving, present your requests to God. The peace of God will guard all of you–heart, mind, and soul–in Christ Jesus.
The great thing about this passage is that it doesn’t tell us to stop thinking. We’re not told to “quit thinking about anything;” in fact, we are given a whole list of what to think about. It’s a better list. There’s nothing really that even tells us to stop thinking about what’s worrying us–we are only told not to worry about it, not to be anxious about it. We are to present it–whatever that frustratingly hard “it” may be–to God, and trust Him with it.
I guess I am just slow to learn. Over and over again, Jesus offers me rest and freedom from worrying; over and over again, I accept His offer; over and over again, I take it all back. Maybe this time it’ll stick. Maybe, this time, I can trust Him with this situation for good. Probably I won’t fully learn my lesson ’til I’m with God, because after my current worry fades, another will come and I’ll learn this all again.
God’s a patient teacher.