Philippians 4:4–7 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, 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.
I wish I could tell you I discovered my one word (Expect) for 2017 as I sat in a rocking chair reading my Bible by the glow of the fireplace.
It was chosen in the middle of a full-fledged panic/anxiety attack while I was on vacation with my family. This used to happen often and while it is hard to even admit, I am sure I am not alone.
It is like catastrophic thinking, and it still happens occasionally. It used to always happen when we would leave to go on vacation. It would start with me thinking I left the oven on (even if I hadn’t used it in several days). Then I would think I left the flat iron on (even if it was packed). Eventually, I would think the house was going to burn to the ground and then I would wonder if maybe I left a candle burning.
I wouldn’t say anything, but my heart would race and my mind would go from one awful place to the next and it would consume most of the fun on the entire vacation. I would hide my worry behind a smile. When we would finally arrive home, I would see the house intact and let out a big sigh of relief and start worrying about something else.
Another example would be replaying a conversation over and over thinking I said something wrong. Perhaps I offended them, or maybe they took it a certain way. I should have said it this way instead. What if they are mad at me?
I could go on and on, but what has helped the most is admitting that it happens. Many times my husband bears the brunt of it and sometimes just saying it out loud makes it stop, but not always.
So on vacation recently, it started with a simple “What if” about a situation. Then down the rabbit hole I went and all kinds of worst-case scenarios were playing out in my head. I wasn’t feeling well and was trying to enjoy myself, but these thoughts were firing off like a pinball machine and it was wearing me out.
I told my husband I wanted to just go back to the room and rest for a bit.
I laid down in the middle of the bed and closed my eyes. I said out loud, “God, please help me! Make it stop! I need you to be here for me, now.”
It was as if my heart sensed Him saying to me, “I need you to expect me to be here. In all of your what if’s, no matter how it plays out – I am always with you. I was with you then, and all of the many times before. I am with you now. Expect me.”
I thought about the word – expect. I thought about how I try to solve problems or “perceived” problems in my mind. I automatically feel the need to anticipate what could possibly happen just in case it does happen so I can be prepared.
That’s one of the things about childhood sexual abuse – you are so alone in your mind. So very alone. You can’t ask questions or process what is happening with anyone. You just try to anticipate what will happen next, and the what if’s take off like a rocket. You are simply trying to understand and make sense of your world.
It is incredibly frustrating as an adult to think this way. If I can’t reach someone by phone, panic alarms are going off loud in my head even though I may appear calm. It’s awful. It is so real, I can almost hear sirens.
But there is HOPE, and His name is Jesus. He is near, and He wants us to bring it all to HIM – everything.
- Give Him the what if’s that will probably never happen.
- Bring Him the conversation that no one else has even thought twice about that we keep replaying over and over as if that will change anything.
- Lay at His feet the tragedies that play out in our minds when we are fearing the worst.
Give it all to him. He is near and He knows. I realized on that hotel bed that I don’t have to feel so alone in my mind anymore. I am not alone, ever. He wants to help me, and He’s right there to help me. I just need to expect Him.
As I whispered, “I expect you Lord” it hit me.
It really was a big deal to expect God in these moments. I no longer had to figure it out on my own and work through it alone in my mind.
Just like I expect Him to hear and answer my prayers, I need to expect Him to work through these lonely panic/anxiety attacks with me. I expect Him to lead and guide me, but I also need to expect Him to help it stop.
I need to give it to Him every time.
I fell into a deep sleep thinking about the word expect. Peace filled that room in ways I can’t even begin to describe, and when I woke up a few hours later it was so much better.
As thoughts would come to mind, I would simply say Lord, I expect you and the thoughts would lose power. The “what if” I had worried myself silly over never even happened.
Letting God into those lonely “I have to figure this out by myself” places changes everything. It takes a lot of pressure off of me and the little girl inside of me.
Lord, we expect you.
Most of all, friends, always rejoice in the Lord! I never tire of saying it: Rejoice! Keep your gentle nature so that all people will know what it looks like to walk in His footsteps. The Lord is ever present with us. Don’t be anxious about things; instead, pray. Pray about everything. He longs to hear your requests, so talk to God about your needs and be thankful for what has come. And know that the peace of God (a peace that is beyond any and all of our human understanding) will stand watch over your hearts and minds in Jesus, the Anointed One. Philippians 4:4-7 (The Voice)