Do. Not. Fear.
Those words are written numerous times in the Bible. So many, in fact, that there could be a different scripture provided for every day in the year in which God guides us through worry, anxiety, and fear.
God says “Do Not Fear.” Instead, He instructs us to be strong and courageous. We know these words. Yet so many times we find ourselves buried in worry and anxiety; overwhelmed with everything that life brings us; overcome with the expectations we put on ourselves.
Oftentimes we hear the phrase, “Oh, it could be so much worse.” Or, “Instead of focusing on the negatives, focus on the positives.” Maybe you find that you are telling yourself, “This is nothing compared to what other people are going through right now. You should be happy with what you have.”
But let me tell you, when you’re in it, you’re in it. And sometimes you don’t even know WHY you’re in it. Things could be going really well, and there are so many blessings all around you – but you just can’t feel it. You just can’t connect. Yeah, I’m focusing on the positive, but why do I still feel so hollow? So distracted from what’s right in front of me?
People say “Give it to God!” And you know what? I’m giving it to God. But I can still feel the weight pressing down on my shoulders, barely able to stand because my yoke is so heavy. When? When will Jesus come and take this away?
Friends, I can tell you that if you’re feeling this today, I am right there with you.
As a mom, how could we not have worry? As a woman, how can we not have fear? As a human, how can we not be anxious?
Living in this technologically advanced age, we are so bombarded with information. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a fabulous time to experience our ability to access and explore the wealth of knowledge and creativity of human existence. Books, music, podcasts, movies, visual art, theatre…it’s all so amazing. But what is happening is that we are experiencing an overload in our minds, our bodies, and in our souls. We just can’t keep up. And if your temperament is anything like mine, we just want to do it all.
But we can’t.
To be honest, this past week with a full and satisfied heart, I dismissed the warning signs of my mind and soul reaching a critical breaking point. You see, there are so many things that I want to get done, other things that I need to get done…dreams and responsibilities. But because it sat there so cluttered and disorganized in my brain, in my heart, I couldn’t get a handle on any of them, and instead, added more little things here and there: make a new recipe for dinner, finish the last chapter of a book, taking a nap, doing a load of laundry, making a new playlist, writing a new Instagram or blog post. I just kept adding more and more.
Instead of addressing what actually needed to be done, I swept it under the rug and proceeded to do the little things in order to feel a sense of accomplishment. And whenever a small bit of anxiety would arise from not getting to those major things, I dismissed it. My prayers and quiet time became fewer and far between as I struggled to “accomplish” things. Coping mechanisms kicked in and my eating habits got worse, and my smartphone bingeing increased. Creativity began to slow, and soon, I just didn’t want to do anything. Chronic migraines returned, and I felt completely burnt out.
I asked God to take my worries, my fears, my anxiety. But the thing is, I wasn’t really giving it to Him. They were still there, swept under the rug, with a million things piled upon them. Toxic dust and clutter filled my heart. And here I am, expecting God to come and do ALL the work. And as I finally sat down and prayed this morning, in a quiet space, in a quiet house, no music, no podcasts, no Bible, no distractions, I forced myself to empty my mind, and invited the Holy Spirit into my cramped and cluttered, disorganized soul.
“I’m sorry, Father. It’s been a while. Thank you for being here….”
And as we talked, He assured me that the dreams, the goals, the responsibilities, covered by the deep layers of shame, anxiety, fear, and unworthiness are still there. Together, step-by-step, we can remove the dust, the clutter, and recover what only seems lost, what only seems impossible. For He is with me. And with Him, I can do ALL things.
It’s a slow and arduous process. One that I have to want to do. One that requires no distraction and full attention. One that I’ve dismissed for so many years. One that is necessary to properly heal the broken pieces in my heart.
And He gave me a verse that I am clinging to today:
Friends, I’m in the midst of it. And I’m okay. I’m okay with not being perfect. I’m okay with being broken. But I’m not okay with staying broken.
God has given me words. Words to share with you. Words to help you, and restore you. But just because those words move through me does not mean I am exempt. I need those words just as much as you. So, if you’re willing, let’s move together upon the words He’s given US. Let’s take the time to slow down and be intentional. Let’s take those quiet moments in our day to not fill our minds and hearts with meaningless small things, but to release the things that clutter and harm, so we can reveal and focus in on the dreams and goals our Father has set upon us. Step-by-step, one at a time, acknowledge, breathe, and let it go.
You are never alone. God is with you. He is with US. Always.
And You Are So Loved.
This article originally appeared at JenniferLTanaka.com, published with permission.