Out of my distress I called on the Lord;
the Lord answered me and set me free.
The Lord is on my side; I will not fear.
What can man do to me?
Psalm 118: 5-6
It was a regular weeknight, I was in my jammies, looking through some e-mails and then…anxiety. Panic. I couldn’t breathe. I started pacing around the bathroom floor. I was thinking, “Oh no, what am I gonna do? This has to happen…” I was just returning to school from a three month medical leave to work on my mental health. Anxiety and panic attacks seem to be getting the best of me. I was still in recovery. It was time to be returning to school, so in checking my class schedule, I noticed that I was enrolled in a Senior Paper class, which is usually completed within the last few months of your degree program. I still had six to eight months until completion.
It was the beginning of January so students and staff were easing their way back into their routine from being on a holiday break. I was thinking, “Ok, we can just get it switched. No problem.” I reached out to my advisor and the response came that ordinary weeknight. I had learned that there may not be a class available for me to enroll in. I may have to wait until February. Normally, I would think, “Cool, another month on break.” But no. Since I was returning from a three month medical leave (which was the max you can take), I had to be enrolled in a class in January, otherwise my financial aid would get messed up and I was at risk of paying my student loans sooner, rather than later. This is when the anxiety that I was in process of learning to manage, the panic that I was understanding how to control through therapy, wanted to come back with a vengeance.
One of the reasons I believe my anxiety decided to camp out in my mind over the years was the fact that I would keep things to myself. I thought I can fix it. I am in control. Or, I would just stuff it under a rug and ignore it. Or, when I felt I needed to talk about it, I would go to a trusted friend. Why would I need to go to God, the creator and controller of all?
In my recovery process, I was grasping onto the word “Surrender.” It seemed every worship song, every Bible study, or word I came across in my Bible, brought up “surrender” or “giving up control” to the One who is and always be in control. I thought I was already doing that in my life, until I finally figured out that I always wanted to keep some things for myself. You know, when we tell God, “Ok, you can take this and that, but I’m gonna hold onto this. Hmkay?” I wasn’t praying in full worship and surrender. I wasn’t giving God my everything, including this little situation with school, in accordance to his will.
Yet, in this moment, on the cold tile floor in my bathroom, in response to the email I had received, I didn’t stuff my feelings. I didn’t let anxiety and the lies the enemy tried to fill my head with, making me think I was in control, it would all be okay, and it would all work out. Nah, this was different. I didn’t lay before the Lord, giving him my idea of a “fix it” or how I thought it should go down. I don’t know about you but I have been guilty of giving the Lord my plans and simply asked him to bless it or to make it match his will or plan for me. You too?
In the pacing. In the fear of the consequence of having to pay my student loans sooner, causing more financial burdens for us at the time. In the fear of having to tell my husband who worked diligently on our budget. Anxiety is a stinker. This little thirty minutes brought enough anxiety and worry that some endure for a lifetime. That’s what it feels like. It comes on strong and fierce. I responded to this anxiety and the enemy, “Not today, Tammy don’t play that game.” I gave everything to the Lord, every detail, every feeling, every worry, and every fear. But that wasn’t all. I didn’t leave it at that. I didn’t leave it to God, saying, “Ok, do what you will, let me know if you need me,” and get on with the rest of the night.
This surrender, this kneeling before my bathtub, on the cold tile floor, was so precious. It’s like I almost felt my heart was being lifted up, along with my hands, open wide to him, even though I was holding on to the side of the tub. In giving him my all, I was also praying that he answer according to his will. I affirmed that he was in control, that he was good no matter the outcome. If my financial aid got screwed up, he was still good. If it worked in my favor, he was still good. I accepted whatever consequence or result would come from this situation. I claimed all that God is and all that he does, and that… It. Is. Good. It’s hard to describe this precious moment, friends.
Now, I am so grateful that he answered this prayer in my favor. It all worked out. I was able to get in another class in the nick of time. I completed the last months of my degree program, including the daunting Senior Paper class. He never left my side.
But this story isn’t about me. This is all about the goodness, faithfulness, mercy, grace, and extravagant love and provision of our Father. I shared this Psalm with you, to encourage you that in our stress, in our anxiety, in our panic, in our worry, we can give it all to God. Every bit. Even the parts that we think we can handle. Yes, the Lord answered my prayer. But does this verse say that he will always answer the prayer according to our will? Nope. He answers. Period. He sets us free. Does he set us free from the daunting consequence or result that come from that answered prayer? No. He sets us free from the fear, the worry, the anxiety, the pressure we put on ourselves to always be in control, the “I gotta do it”, the “I can’t tell anyone else, they can’t help me” or “I’ll go to my friend, she’ll know,” now putting pressure on that friend, making them our god or go-to.
This was that pivotal moment that I truly and finally felt free. As I am writing this, reflecting back on that night, I have tears. No, not tears of sadness. These are tears in response to how good God is. He beautiful he is. He is who he says he is, friend. He does what he says he will do. I pray that you, sweet friend, are able to give him your ALL and to claim this freedom that he only can give us. Free from feeling like we are in control. Free from the lies the enemy tries to whisper into our ears.
So, here we go, let’s kneel down on that cold tile floor and together, lay it all down, at the feet of Jesus, in full surrender, in full worship, and in full belief that he is in control. He knows us best. He knows what is best. He is good, sister, all the time. All the time, he is good.
Hugging you so tight,