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.
A precious, funny friend tells of when she bought her children a nativity play set, and they kept losing the baby Jesus and finding it in the oddest places. She caught herself announcing after every search and rescue, “I FOUND THE BABY JESUS.” This reminds me...
I have misplaced God at times as well. God never lost me, but I made an idol out of a job and a family picture of utopia! I pushed God out of being the most important relationship in my life. Idols can be funny things. Rather than being concrete statues we bow down to, we bow down to material possessions, approval, work ethic, reputation, and perceived significance. The pursuit of things or relationships other than God can become our most important pursuit rather than pursuing our relationship with God.
Our only significance comes from our Creator. My idol was my home (approval), successful husband (approval), 2.5 perfect children (reputation), good job (work ethic), and meaningful ministry (perceived significance). Each and all of these I had constructed in a collective picture that I worked hard to keep tidy. That perfect picture was my source of contentment, yet I had anxiety and stress everywhere.
For a decade of my life, I worked hard to build an ideal life. I appeared to be ‘successful’ for a while although I was never quite sure how to achieve the .5 children!
And then, that picture got shattered. Gone were the relationships, the job, and the achievements. That gold framed, family portrait seemed to have broken. A glimpse of that woman in the picture was desperate, broken, and pathetic. How do we replace the picture of ourselves with the image God intended for us and His view of us after being washed by His Son’s precious blood?
Well, we draw on every help God offers.
For me, God led me to a biblical study of conflict resolution where two words ‘truth’ and ‘prevail’ permeated throughout the message. Live in truth. Prevail to point others to Christ. The leader of the study used Luke 18, the parable of the persistent widow. This parable was not an immediate ‘fix,’ but it was encouragement to pray and not give up. At that time, I did not understand the message of God's Word. But God Prevailed.
Then, God used the prayer journal I’ve had for the past ten years.
Mine is a mess, with heart pleadings, praises, and questions written in it, but what an encouragement to see God’s faithfulness throughout the years. God used the mess in my journal to show me the widow in the story desired something. We’re not sure what it was in her story, but suddenly, I saw what I desired. It was approval, reputation, significance, which affected every relationship I had (husband, children, friends, Jesus, etc.). All my relationships were suffering because they were out of order. God’s used the Bible study, the prayer journal, and people who pointed me to Him to realign my relationships so He was first and all others came after Him!
We are all designed with a vacuum inside of us. We seem to try to fill our restless hearts with stuff, people, or accomplishments. Augustine said, “Thou hast made us for Thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in Thee.” Our groping, desperateness, anxiety, and striving are the manifestation in our lives when seeking anything - relationships or material possessions or anything that might become an idol before Him. God calls us to, “Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Matthew 6:33
As a counselor of women, I try to communicate our lives are to reflect seeking Jesus first. Whatever your needs are whether they are material or relational, seek God first before you seek answers somewhere else. There is a place for ‘friends wearing flesh’ (pastors, doctors, counselors). In fact, I am eternally grateful for the friend that God used to point me to Luke 18. By all means, let us surround ourselves with Jesus loving people, but let us remember they are our second line of defense. God is first. Our ‘friends wearing flesh’ are not equipped the way our Savior is. He is our real help and contentment.
Jesus promises that our justice comes from God. In the story of the persistent widow, Jesus says, “And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off?” Before you go to the phone or anywhere else, make sure you have taken your burdens to the Lord. The persistent widow got from the judge what she wanted. Our precious Lord Jesus provides all we need!
When I realized ideal marriage and family had become my idols, I tore down that utopian photo hanging in our hallway and replaced it with reminders like the little wooden nativity we gave our new son-in-law to be when he asked to marry our daughter. My husband told him, “Marriage works when you keep Jesus central.” We gave him this visible reminder for his desk to daily depict one man and one woman together with Jesus in the center to avoid squeezing Jesus from his proper place.
Should any of us replace Christ with some graven idol, I hope it won’t be long before we can say, “I FOUND THE BABY JESUS.” So whether you struggle with material possessions, relationships, or your reputation becoming your idols, there is always hope as we remember God has called us to seek Him first, and He will provide for all we need.
Prayer: Father, forgive us for having idols above you, make us sensitive to when we allow other things to take your place in our lives.
Further Study: Read Chapter 6 of Calm My Anxious Heart.
Small Group Questions: Questions 3, 4, 7, and 8 of Week 6 in the back of Calm My Anxious Heart.
Question: Where is it hard for you to trust God? In the midst of the loss of a job, position or income, the death of a dream, the uprooting your family, an illness or severe diagnosis, or the reconciliation of relationships how can we keep God first in our lives?
Please share your answer either in the comments section below or join the conversation with our Facebook Community Group. #undividedwomen.