I hate this. My heart is overthrown once again and fear runs rampant, unchecked. When it happens I feel so weak, so ashamed.
Whatever maturity I thought I had, whatever “progress” I thought I had made seems lost in an instant. It’s almost like there is a tiny loose thread hanging out of my heart and something trivial latches onto it and won’t let it go until the entire tapestry of my “self” lay in ruins on the floor. Whatever strength and hope I had found in the “beloved” new self in Christ-in-me is quickly wiped away in the thunderstorm fury of the orphan, wreaking havoc throughout my soul, raging for a sense of control (Sometimes I think that there is just a huge pool of anxiety and fear residing within me, waiting to latch on to something, anything).
This time it was some car problems as I tried to get out the door to work. I was in a hurry (as usual!) and unfocused. As I started my 99 Camry, it sounded weird - the engine sounded louder than normal. I decided to turn it off then on again to see if that helped (the extent of my mechanical expertise). But the engine kept running, or at least parts of it (at least one belt and fan seemed to keep going). I tried again, and same thing. My anxiety and confusion was rising by this point. On the third time I started it and the extra sound went away, and turning it off one more time the engine finally stopped.
Already late, I just started it again and went to work without problem, wondering what in the world was going on in my car. I imagined all kinds of “doom scenarios” with me being stranded somewhere, being late for work or not being able to make it to work at all, paying thousands in car repairs which we don’t have, etc. etc. I will wait and see if it does it again; I see my mechanic tomorrow anyway to get a few things done on our minivan so I’ll ask them about it then. From what I’ve found via web search, it doesn’t sound too dire.
The trigger or cause is not really important though. It could be something this small or something big. What it provokes within me is where I desperately need the redemptive healing of Christ. It’s times like these that remembering previous truths and experiences with God is so vital for me. Finally at work, I throw up my “tender mercies” playlist and listen, trying to invite God into this ravaged heart, into the messy chaos of my fearful mind. Slowly, grace seeps in and the wheels of anxious striving slow down. Once the wheels slow down enough I can sense his presence with me. I remember there is no condemnation for broken people like me, that the Lord has infinite tenderness and compassion towards me. I feel his embrace slowly surround even my fear (which seems so big and foreboding), his faithfulness envelop my anxiety. I admit I’m scared as hell. I cry out for help. Repeat, over and over and over.
Turn to me and be gracious to me,
for I am lonely and afflicted.
The troubles of my heart are enlarged;
bring me out of my distresses.
Consider my affliction and my trouble,
and forgive all my sins. (Ps 25:16-18 ESV)
Blessed be the Lord!
For he has heard the voice of my pleas for mercy.
The Lord is my strength and my shield;
in him my heart trusts, and I am helped;
my heart exults,
and with my song I give thanks to him. (Ps 28:6-7 ESV)
Slowly I feel myself being put back together. He is not ashamed of my fear, nor should I be (dang, I just should-ed on myself!). It is at moments like these where I need to show compassion on myself, just as I would to a dear friend or family member who was experiencing this. This episode does not negate anything of what he has done for and in me up to this point, his grace toward me has not been in vain; such episodes are actually required for his grace to go deeper and deeper. They provide opportunity for the life of God to get into newer and deeper places.
I don’t know if in this life I will ever grow to the point where I don’t get overthrown so easily. I do hope and pray that the process of recovery will continue to gain traction and get stronger, and my habits will help me more and more, especially as my reservoir of experiences with the faithful tenderness of God grows and grows. I appreciate any prayers you can send this ragamuffin’s way.