The last few weeks have been a roller coaster ride in my head. I’ve gone from the glorious heights of assured confidence and trust to the deep dark depths of I-can’t-breathe anxiety and back again so many times that my heart is in a perpetual state of confusion. One day I am sure of God’s purpose for my life and His ability/willingness/plan to keep me on the track He has prepared for me, and it’s a good day. There is nothing like the joy that comes with trust and hope to soothe the soul and make the heart hum happy melodies.
But the next day – the very next day – I develop a knot in my chest that is confident in only one assertion: I have no idea what the hell I’m doing. I’m 11 months from graduating from college with an impractical degree and a few vague long-term goals that have not to this point come with instructions. I have no plans. No ideas. Not even a hint of an inkling of a clue about where my life is headed.
I’ve got nothing.
And lest you wonder, let me assure you that there is nothing like heart-pounding, existential anxiety to rouse the soul from its happy humming into a chorus of terrified screaming. And yes, such screaming brings with it a terrific headache.
It’s strange to find myself battling so many old enemies, demons that the sword of the Spirit slashed to pieces ages ago but have somehow taped themselves back together and returned for another round. I find lies that don’t even make sense coming out of my mouth (or, my pen, to be more accurate). Just a few days ago I wrote in my journal, “But at least worrying is doing something. It feels like taking an active part in the process instead of just waiting for my future to happen.”
There is so much wrong with that statement that I barely know where to begin. First of all, it sounds like I’m advocating worry, as though worrying about the future – or anything, for that matter – could affect its outcome in any way. Secondly, it sounds as if I believe that I can trick God into thinking I’m doing my part as an active participant in my future by worrying about it.
Let us pause to ponder the full breadth of ridiculousness embodied in that statement.
If foolishness is a water droplet, I just created an ocean.
I feel like a pendulum rapidly swinging between two extremes: truth and lies, faith and fear, hope and my-future-is-a-deep-dark-pit-of-unmet-potential-and-missed-opportunities.
Here’s the thing, though: I know the truth. I know that my God has good plans to prosper me, to give me a future and a hope. I know that I am His daughter, the creation of His heart, made in His image to fulfill His purposes in the earth. I know that. It’s not a trite platitude; it’s not a Christianese cliché. It is truth.
Sometimes my head freaks out, but my heart, held tenderly in my Father’s hands, is not afraid.
So, three things that He has used to snap me back to the truth/faith/hope side this week:
1. This email from a sweet friend who heard my anxiety on Wednesday night and sought to hug me with her words. She wrote in part, “God created you specifically the way He did for His purposes and has those exact purposes in mind even now. Personally, I am thrilled that He made you who you are – and that He’s allowed me to know the wonderful you He painstakingly and perfectly designed. He gave you capabilities even greater than you can imagine and you will fulfill your own and His highest expectations because that’s what He will lead you to do. You don’t have to know what they look like (even though you may want to), you only to have the open heart and willing obedience to act out what He says when He says. And you most certainly have that.”
2. This beautiful song that I’ve been singing all week. It says, “All my hope is in You / All my strength is in You / With every breath my soul will rest in You. / All the earth beneath You / All my life before You / with every breath my soul will rest in You.”
3. The following quotes, all of which I became aware at different times through different mediums, and that once again prove that God speaks truth into our hearts exactly the way we need to hear it.
From W.H. Auden’s “In Memory of W. B. Yeats” “Poetry makes nothing happen […] It is a way of happening, a mouth.”
From Letters from Heaven by the Apostle Paul:
“We have become His poetry, a recreated people that will fulfill the destiny He has given each of us, for we are joined to Jesus, the Anointed One. Even before we were born, God planned in advance our destiny and the good works we would do to fulfill it!” (Ephesians 2:10)
And the author’s note for the verse: “The beautiful Greek word used here is translated ‘poem’ or ‘poetry.’ Our lives are the beautiful poetry written by God that will speak forth all that He desires in life.
Our lives are a beautiful poem that, in its own power, makes nothing happen, but is instead a way of happening, God’s way of speaking forth His glory into the earth.
So for today – at least today! – my soul rests in the simple joy of being the poem rather than the poet.
As for tomorrow…I will (try to) relax and continue to walk with Him and allow that to be enough.