She was quoting to me the exact same chapter from the exact same book I so often use to help people understand boundaries. In the hour we spent together, my counselor said nothing new to me, nothing I myself don’t regularly say to others. And yet it was hugely helpful.
Sometimes familiarity with principles and processes weakens their effectiveness. Not because they no longer hold power; like gravity, the laws don’t change. Truth will always set free and God will always be good. But like the people we are prone to taking for granted, good habits and gospel truth can slip into the grey zone of oblivion, even while we look right at them.
My descent down the slippery slope into stress began when necessity required I step into new roles and responsibilities. Unfamiliar territory with new giants. Or rather, old giants in new disguises: Worry, Anxiety, and Control, all from the tribe of What-If.
What if provision doesn’t come? Worry.
What if I make a mistake? Anxiety
What if my husband makes a mistake? Control.
In the nights, thundering heartbeat, dry throat, and exploding headaches woke me up.
In the days, my capacity for compassion was drained and my ability to listen compromised by the loud chaos inside. Temporarily, I could shoo the imposters away with “It’ll be fine,” but they always returned with a vengeance. I got so used to them that I forgot they weren’t welcome.
Until they reared their voice in a conversation with Heather. Fighting for her daughter, Heather has been to hell and back. In the process, she faced some scary giants of her own, and through some very, very fierce battles, she stared them down and won back her freedom. So now, she doesn’t mess around. When she spots evidence of the enemy at work, she calls it out. As she did for me.
Which led to me booking an appointment with a counselor to get help sifting through the stress and the stressors. So there I was, hearing such familiar words and concepts, and because of their familiarity, I was tempted to dismiss them.
“Only God can provide for people; you cannot”
“We don’t have grace for “what-if,” only for what is.”
“Your are not your husband’s Holy Spirit; second-guessing his every move doesn’t help him.”
I know, but….
I know. No but.
He is God, and I am not.
For the first time in months, I feel the relaxing warmth of peace spread from my mind to my body, deeper than I could will it. This isn’t mind over matter – it is stronger. Places I didn’t know were tense, let go.
Truth always sets free and lies always entangle.
Somewhere in the swirling newness of this season, I swallowed the lie that the weight of my life and those I so love, rests on my scrawny shoulders. Had you asked me, I might have denied it, because I know better. But I still swallowed the poison.
My counselor prayed that I would see the boundaries between my responsibilities and God’s – and because He gives sight to the blind , I did. It was like seeing through the right prescription glasses again, and my soul found and finds rest in the quiet wisdom of His Word.
“Be still, and know that I am God;”
And still, it’s a process.
That one counseling session didn’t neatly tie a bow on the complexities of living by faith in a world where nothing adds up, as far as human eye can see. More than a ready-made solution, it was a seismic shift underground whose shockwaves still are radiating, closer and louder, a continual shaking to sift the human from the divine.
Weeks later in my car one night, my friend asks a question that triggers the ingrained guilt over my insufficiency. Tears burn in my throat as I list to her the balls I’ve dropped: unanswered emails, phone calls, the usual suspects, but each representing a life I care deeply about.
With sweet simplicity, the most healing salve, she just says, “I guess that’s where faith comes in, right? That He is God and you are not. I guess that’s where trust comes in: that He can handle what you can’t.”
As she states the obvious, I see His concern laced with humor in her eyes.
Well, is it true, or isn’t it?
“No guilt competes
With innocence crucified.
No grave can hold what your grace has justified.
With breath that brings the dead to life,
With words that pierce the dark with light
Only by the blood are we set free.
With mercy strong to carry shame
And nail it to a tree You alone
Hold the power to redeem.”
~ Lauren Daigle
Since then, the underground rumblings have become continual tidal waves rushing me further and further from the shore of my control into the ocean of grace. I fear drowning less and enjoy the splashes more.
His way is fun and free.
I’m not looking back anymore.
“Then You crash over me and I’ve lost control but I’m free
I’m going under, I’m in over my head
Whether I sink, whether I swim
It makes no difference when I’m beautifully in over my head.” Bethel Music