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Fighting Anxiety… Like a Child

Posted On July 23, 2018

I sunk into bed during one of those awful, pre-dawn hours of the night after a day where my required tasks had far outnumbered the minutes allotted to me. One of those “Come again, Lord Jesus” moments when you decide you’re utterly unable to wake up and take all the breaths and steps required to get you from one end of the day to the other. The mere thought of the sun coming up — brutishly forcing me to open my eyes and behold the whirlwind of problems and duties that would be there to greet me (in a far too short amount of time) — seemed to feed on my exhaustion and tension, convincing my sleepless-self that I hated the sun and its horrible inevitability, and I had no desire ever to see it again.

But it rose anyways.

And after its arrival, one of those inevitable duties toddled into my room to greet me. While the rest of my children have developed varying degrees of self-sufficiency and self-awareness, this freshly-turned-three-year-old grasped my hand, pulled herself up, pressed my tired face between her palms, and candidly informed me of her wants and her needs for the moment. She wasn’t hesitant, or even demanding — but expectant. Because she knew she was incapable of getting through the morning and meeting her needs by herself. Yet she wasn’t troubled by it because she knew I was there, and I could. And my heart ached because as I watched my sweet child, I realized that though I know my God is there and is able, I can’t seem to figure out for the life of me, how to talk my heart into resting in this truth and my feet into walking that path of child-like reliance.

The Calmed and Quieted Soul

I longed to be able to proclaim Psalm 131:

“O LORD, my heart is not lifted up; my eyes are not raised too high; I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvelous for me. But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me.”

Instead of a self-propelled soul that instinctively presses on, desperately trying not to forget those “oh yeah,” mental sticky notes to remember to seek the Spirit, I yearn for a childlike-soul that doesn’t even know *how* to take a step apart from him. Not out of fear, but out of a confidence so strong — in his strength, and goodness, and love — that I couldn’t even imagine trying to find my way through the day without clinging to him. O LORD, wean me of *myself*!

The Weaning Soul

I’ve raised enough babies to understand the difference between a weaned child and a weaning child. That one syllable is the difference between peace and anxiety, contentment and worry, rest and struggle, surrender and striving. …A weaning soul is a weary soul. One that needs to be stilled and soothed as it’s weaned from its desires and thoughts and ways because something far better is being offered.

From Inward to Outward

We need to follow the path of the psalmist as he seemingly describes his weaning of self, venturing from inward to outward — from heart, to eyes, to actions: “my heart is not lifted up; my eyes are not raised too high; I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvelous for me…”(Psalm 131:2).

Until my heart is able to say that it trusts in Christ above all else, I will continue to be broken and betrayed.

Until my eyes can look to nothing but God to satiate my desires, I will continue to taste disappointment.

Until my actions are spurred by the Spirit and his strength alone, I will continue to trip and fall.

The road to that place can be long and trying, but rather than allow our anxiety to falsely prophesy hopelessness, let’s instead rightly proclaim the hope we have because we know who is leading us, and we know to whom we are being led.

“After a period of prolonged and painful struggle to have its longings answered, the little one gives over striving any more, and is at peace. …Like a weaned child, its tears over, its cries hushed, reposing upon the very bosom that a little ago excited its most tumultuous desires, his soul that once passionately strove to wring from God an answer to its eager questionings, now wearied, resigned, and submissive, just lays itself to rest in simple faith on that goodness of God… It is a picture of infinite repose and of touching beauty—the little one nestling close in the mother’s arms, its head reclining trustfully on her shoulder, the tears dried from its now quiet face, and the restful eyes, with just a lingering shadow of bygone sorrow in them still, peering out with a look of utter peace, contentment, and security. It is the peace of accepted pain, the victory of self-surrender” (Rev. James Vaughan, 1876).

The Sun Also Rises

Stressful days will come and go, and I doubt my nights will be forever absent of restlessly watching the clock advance as my brain mentally counts all the seconds I’m not sleeping and all the things I’m not doing. But every night when the darkness comes, I can remember that my sins and anxieties can die with it. And every morning as the sun faithfully rises, I can remember whose mercies for me are new—regardless of what the day brings — because death (and everything in between) was forever conquered.

Dear Lord,

Help me open my eyes in the morning and immediately seek you rather than the world and its worthless things. Make my weaknesses clear and your strength blindingly clearer. Help me rest in your hope rather than wallow in my fear. Thwart my feeble yet habitual attempts to rely on my own abilities. Burden my heart with what distresses you rather than what stresses me. Help me seek you more than answers, pray more than worry, and worship more than grumble. Be my peace in the chaos and my rest after sleepless nights. Help my mind wander to you when I’m weary and anxious. May I hope in the LORD, from this time forth and forevermore.

Amen.

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