I’m doing something a little different today. Instead of waiting until I feel cleaned up and inspired, I’m coming to you in the midst of an anxious day. I woke up, and instead of feeling clear-headed and optimistic, my mind feels a bit jumbled, everything around me seems a bit blurred at the edges. I can’t explain why, but my heart feels in a state of unrest. This would normally be a day that I would avoid writing altogether, and especially social media–or I would look at my newsfeed and wonder how everyone else always seems to have it all together.
Let’s be messy together.
I’m inviting you into my messy space right now. Dishes are in my sink, my coffee is cold, and there are trails of toys throughout the house. The kids are bickering in the background, blasting their favorite Jana Alayra song, “Jump Into The Light” and tossing brightly bedazzled dress-up dresses like confetti.
It’s spring break which has been hard for my anxiety-prone brain. I do better with routines and plans, instead of long, lazy stretches of undesignated time. I feel restless and unsatisfied. Amidst these confusing contradictions, my heart feels weighed down with the needs of kids, unmade meals, and unmade beds. My mind feels on constant overload with kids buzzing underfoot looking for new ways to make messes, and asking for a snack every fifteen minutes. The worst though is the guilt that pokes at the back of my mind, inviting in the other bully, shame. Yes amidst the hard anxious feelings, the worst of all might be the guilt that shames me when I don’t feel grateful, satisfied, and serenely peaceful with my circumstances.
I am grateful and satisfied with my life, and God offers me peace again and again as I enter into hard places. But that doesn’t mean that I always feel grateful, content, and peaceful every day, in every moment.
So here we are, in this mess of life together, with tangled emotions and untidy hearts. I could wrap all these hard emotions and struggles up in a tidy bow of encouragement, but I won’t.
Instead, I’d like to tell you that these days will come. I believe there are ways we can walk through the hard feelings and unsettled nerves of these days, and allow God and others to walk beside us. I believe that these hard days might be the places where God is shaping us for His greater purposes.
Here are a couple thoughts that are helping me get through this day. I hope they can help you too.
Be honest with those around you. If you feel messy and uncertain, then invite others in and let them speak truth to your heart. This could include your children. When I have an anxious day I will tell my family, “today is a hard day.” My four-year-old daughter will nod with a look of concern, and love. She’ll hug me and remind me “Jesus loves me.” My husband will give me more understanding and grace. I try to offer myself more grace and space as I move throughout this tender kind of day.
Colossians 3:16 “Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.” (NIV)
Be Honest with God. I find it hard to pray when I’m having a hard day. My prayers come out as run-on sentences and unfinished thoughts. But God doesn’t need me to have it all together. He doesn’t need a pretty prayer to meet me–I believe He wants all of me, in whatever place my heart is at. Jesus himself prayed in soulful shouts and desperate pleas.
On the hard days, moving through the long hours is an act of obedience to God; obedience when I give my heart to Him each time my thoughts threaten take me down a dark winding path; obedience when I show love to people around me even when it doesn’t flow from me effortlessly. On these hard days, from my first breath to my last waking thought, my prayer never ends. As I wrestle to turn my face to Him again and again, my day becomes a living, breathing prayer.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (NIV)
Serve others. There are some days when all I can do is tend to the people God has placed right in front of me. I need to accept my limitations and set healthy boundaries. Then there are the days when the best thing I can do is get outside myself. Sometimes talking to a friend that’s struggling, sitting and reading silly stories to my kids, or cooking a delicious dinner for my family is the best thing I can do to get out of my own head.
Take His power in place of your weakness. (2 Cor. 12:9) Once this hard day is over, we’ll be wiser, stronger, and more compassionate. We are empowered by Jesus who entered into the weakest, hardest places in order to bring reconciliation and grace. I remember that somehow, by God’s power, he can use my anxious mind to grab hold of Jesus more and more–and by some kind of miracle, He can use my brokenness to make others feel wholly loved through Him.
So join me in entering into this vulnerable place, friend. This world means social media, and surface conversations, polite smiles, and hidden truths, but we can crack open these exteriors and let His love seep into the secret hurts and struggles that need His healing. It starts with being honest in front of God and others. My prayer for you and I is that we find space and time for that. I pray that we embrace the slow sacred work that He does in our hearts, minds, and lives, even in these hard, anxious days.