“This must be the end. This is how I go.”
These are the thoughts that went through my mind as my chest clenched and the pain shot across my shoulders.
“Just breathe. Take slow breaths in and out. It’s just anxiety. I’m fine. Everything is fine.”
Except it’s not.
Anxiety is a badge of honor for some. I know there are women who feel like they need that anxiety to feel alive. I am not one of those women. For me, I feel alive when I am lunching with friends, and we are laughing until our bellies ache. I feel alive when my husband and I go on a golf cart ride to watch the sunset. We dance to classic 90’s hair bands, while the sky turns from blue to orange to black. I feel alive when my teenagers banter in the kitchen late at night, share popcorn and laugh at each other. I don’t need anxious adrenaline to feel alive. I abhor anxiety, and yet I make choices every day to live a life full of it.
I am a woman trying to be everything for too many people, and I am failing miserably. I am a wife. I am a mom. I am a friend. I am a church worker. I am a non-profit coordinator. I have a dog. I have laundry, dishes and toilets that need cleaned. My daughter is about to head off to college, and my son is now an upper-classman in high school. My husband manages billion dollar projects for his job and needs me to manage the home front.
If you and I were sitting over a cup of coffee, this is the point where I’d ask you how things are going for you. I don’t have a solution or a way to be rid of any of my things…not that I’d want to be rid of most of them. I wouldn’t. Except laundry and toilet cleaning; although, I try to be grateful for the ability to do both. But I also know that these problems are “First World” issues, and complaining to you does nothing, as you are likely dealing with the same.
We all have too much to do. We live in a bustling, hustling world where everything happens at hyper-speed, and we have to choose between keeping up or falling behind. We take on a lot because there is a lot to take on. We get involved where we can, because there are needs everywhere. But sometimes, I believe, we all need a reminder that everything does not depend on us.
I often imagine myself twirling plates in the air like one of those circus side-show acts. I have tall poles balanced on several fingers, and atop each pole, are various spinning plates piled high with food. On a good day, when my confidence is high and nothing out of the ordinary flies my way, I smile, twirl and spin. I’m tempted to believe it’s due to my ability and talent, and not God’s provision of grace and mercy over me.
On a bad day, when food is falling from the edges of the plates, dripping in my hair and eyes, and the plates all wobble atop my poles, I worry this will be the day God looks down and exclaims, “That’s it! She’s ruined everything!”
That thought implies I have a lot more power than I actually have. I constantly need reminding that God, who created the heavens and the earth, keeps it all spinning in orbit with zero percent help from me. He has never needed me.
God chose me and loves me and wants me to be near to his heart, but he never needed me. The sun rises in the east and sets in the west without my help. Maybe, if I handed him a few spinning plates, I’d have less mess on my head. And maybe, if I handed him all the plates, I stop having anxiety that feels like death.
I am reminded of Philippians 4:6-8, “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.”
I feel like these verses are God’s whisper to me to empty the dishwasher, put the plates in the cabinet instead of spinning them in the air, and trust that he’s got me in the palm of his hand.