Wiregrass Hope Group's Christian counselors have written these posts on anxiety based on their own experiences and the book Calm My Anxious Heart by Linda Dillow. Our hope is for you to live free from anxiety.
For the first eight years of my marriage, my husband and I were “missionaries” on two college campuses. This required us to raise all our financial support. We got a late start in our married life and were still paying off seminary debt while on a tight budget. This was fine for five years as we were given a rent-free apartment and were able to live like college students ourselves. Then, three children came along. Our oldest son was two when our twins were born, and my struggle with the “If Onlys” began in full force. I hadn’t really noticed what we did not have or the sacrifices we were making until we moved back to my hometown, Tallahassee, to work at Florida State University. We could not afford to live anywhere near my parents or any of my friends from church, so we moved into a small house near the University on the other side of town. I felt isolated with three small children two and under. My busy, active life of ministry, taking my first born wherever I went, came to a screeching halt! I physically could not get anywhere without heroic effort. I began living day to day, struggling to keep my head above water, battling exhaustion and depression.
Looking back, I would pinpoint those days as some of my hardest of my life. I spent way too many precious moments dreaming about the “If Onlys.” If only I lived closer to friends and family, had a bigger house, and lived in a nicer neighborhood. If only I had time for myself, had time with friends, and could go and do as before. God used this time to show me that the “If Onlys” rob us of our peace and keep us from enjoying each day He has given as a gift. Would all of those things I longed for brought me lasting satisfaction?
I now see that dwelling on the “If Onlys” is questioning the goodness and provision of God. 2 Peter 1:3 says, “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness.” Has God really given us everything we need for life and godliness? Yes or no? Has God really called me for His own glory and goodness? Yes or no? It is okay to cry out to God in our frustration and pain—when life seems too overwhelming and hard. However, God wants the core of our relationship with Him to be one of trust and contentment. He has provided, He is providing, and He will provide. Why? Because of who He is and how much He loves us.
Consider these three exhortations:
- Focus on Who God is. Elisabeth Elliot always said that she might not have understood what was happening in her life or why, but she could personally know and trust Who is behind it all—a sovereign, loving, good God. Psalm 62:5-8 tells us that God is our trustworthy rock, fortress, salvation, and refuge. Go back to what you know of God’s character and meditate on Him.
- Remember What God Has Done. As you meditate on God’s character, also remember how He has provided for God’s people in the past and how He has also been your provision. Psalm 77:11-13 says, “I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago. I will meditate on your works and consider all your mighty deeds. Your ways, O God, are holy. What god is so great as our God?” Then think, “What deeds has God done for me in the past?” You may be surprised how thanksgiving can fight the “If Onlys.”
- Accept God’s Portion for Your Life. Instead of wasting precious time and energy on what your portion is not or should be, how about accepting what your portion from God is, with faith? This brings peace. Take life one day at a time and accept, accept, accept. Then, give, give, give it up to God as a sacrifice of praise. He will help you with acceptance if you humbly lay all your circumstances, your pain, your frustrations, and your fears at His feet, then rest and find peace. Think on Philippians 4:6-7, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
We were never meant to handle life on our own. We are part of God’s family, and God wants to help us as our loving heavenly Father. Ultimately, He is all we need and living in the “If Onlys” is foolish. Run to Him.
Prayer: Dear Father, thank you for your sovereign plan and provision for my life. Thank you for loving me even when I doubt your love and goodness. Help me to remember who you are and what you have done and then to accept your portion for my life.
Further Study: Read Chapter 11 of Calm My Anxious Heart.
Small Group Questions: Questions 3, 5, and 7 of week 11 in the back of Calm My Anxious Heart.
Comments: What are your If Onlys? Do the ideas of focusing on who God is, remembering what God has done, or accepting God’s portion for your life help you?
Please share your answer either in the comments section below or join the conversation with our Facebook Community Group. #undividedwomen.