Proverbs 3: 5-6 Trust in Jehovah with all thy heart, And lean not upon thine own understanding: 6 In all thy ways acknowledge him, And he will direct thy paths. ASV
When I was going through the various anxiety disorders through the years (OCD, panic disorder, and chronic anxiety), my focus was clear: self protection. I was terrified of “what might happen” to the point where I was afraid to leave my house.
This focus was greater than the focus I put on my child, my husband, my family, my friends, my joy, and my Lord. It overwhelmed everything.
Right now your focus is also on self-protection. Even if your anxiety thoughts or behaviors seem to be about keeping others from harm, truly it is still about resolving your anxiety more than protecting others. You don’tt want others to come to harm, of course. But you do not want the anxiety yourself either of losing someone or having someone else hurt. What you do to prevent harm to yourself and others is not reasonable, but is emotional, panicky, and illogical. It is driven by your anxiety.
We Christians, however, are not to dwell on self. The nature of “self” is in the flesh. It is natural, but it is carnal, just like anger is natural but carnal. We who are in the midst of anxiety disorders are indulging in the natural and focusing on the natural. We are risking our souls to save our stomachs. We are destroying our minds to save our bodies. We must stop and look rationally at what we are doing.
Our focus is supposed to be on the Lord, right? Praying to Him in frantic, desperate, doubt-filled pleas are not enough. We have to be brave enough, be strong enough, be obedient and thankful enough to Him that we offer our lives for Him. Understand that that does not mean He is going to ask horrible things of you. He is not cruel or unkind. He loves you! But He cannot work His mercies, His protection, His kindness, His blessings for you in your life while you are focused on self-protection. You are missing out on more than you have right now. You are not protecting yourself from harm, but causing it.
You are choosing you over Him, which is evil. I did too. I loved Him, but I did not trust Him. I did not obey Him. I did not allow Him to work in my life, but rather spent time in constant anxiety and self protection. I was taking a swim in “Lake Me”. Your priority, right now, is your self, not the Lord, not anyone else. That might be painful to hear—it was painful for me to understand that about myself! I did not want my priority to be me! I wanted it to be the Lord, my family, etc.
However, deep down, our priority really is us. How do I know? Because we are consumed with our own anxieties about our own lives. If our priority was the Lord, then nothing He could ask of us would be too much—truthfully we would not be filled with anxiety. If we really put our families above ourselves, then our families would never have to accommodate our fears or anxieties. But since they do, then we know that what we say is our priority and what really is our priority are two different things.
Right now you are staring at your belly button, so to speak. Your focus is on your health, safety, protection from fears or emotional pain. Even if your obsession is the safety of your children, it is not the godly protective parent that is coming into focus, but a desperate, panicked “what if”. It is a lack of focus on the Lord, a lack of trusting that He loves your children more than you do.
However, wonderful things happen when you trust the Lord! When you are focused on God, the yoke really is easy and the burden really is light. I promise that you will find that what seems impossible now is easy when you trust Him.
Now, you might still be afraid of what He will ask of you if you trust Him. You are afraid because you are focusing on YOU, and because you are taking the Lord’s role as director in your life.
Why do we do that? Do we know better than He does? Do you see Him as unable to bring about blessing?
Is the Creator of the universe so utterly incapable that He needs you and me to touch doorknobs or count light posts or wash with bleach or avoid restaurants in order to make our lives in the universe run better? Really? God needs us to touch light switches? He needs us to store up a huge pile of magazines for Him? The universe will run so much better if we count cracks in the sidewalk?!
Think about that, I mean DEEPLY think about it, not just “No…but….”. I did, and it makes me feel silly for the anxieties I had, the behaviors I did. As if He needed me to help, as if I could do a better job than He. Next time you worry about something, ask yourself if the Lord actually needs your help to solve the problem. Next time you want to touch a light post, ask yourself what the Lord needed your help doing. Next time you have a panic attack in a restaurant, ask yourself if you saved yourself from something, or if you prevented the Lord from working in your life, allowing you to enjoy a blessing with friends.
I think you will find, as I did, that all of your anxiety did nothing at all to help the Lord. He knows what He is doing, and we just have to be ready and obedient. Ask Him for forgiveness. Decide to start right now to stop trying to protect yourself, because we simply do not have the knowledge or the ability to do so. Allow the One who really knows what needs to happen in your life–what real dangers you face, what real blessings that He wants to give you–to work in your life. He is faithful, He will do it.