what we call "stress" is actually just plain old fear - but knowing that didn't really help me this time. This particular stress was so bad that it was barely even trying masquerade as anything but fear anymore; a couple of times over the course of the year I had seriously thought it was going to erupt into a full-blown panic attack.
So, there I was, at the end of my rope, fresh out of ideas, and I knew that the only thing I had left was Jesus. That sounds very pious and comfy, but if it ever happens to you, you'll realize that it is NOT a fun place to be in. It can feel very scary.
I was not enjoying myself. I was not feeling confident. I was crying out to God... which also sounds very pious, except I wasn't being pious. I was being raw. I was being honest. I had discovered something about myself: I had grown up in a subculture of Christianity that proclaims God's grace, but still tends to apply certain rules to Christianity. Do this, and this, and this, or else you may stop God from blessing you. Approach God with proper reverence as your King while also approaching Him as your Father. And don't phrase your sentences a certain way, because if you do, you are displaying a lack of faith. Sometimes in my prayers, I bring those things with me, and I wind up sort of formulating a prayer instead of just being me talking to God. What I discovered was that what I had thought was faith and humility was actually insecurity and pride.
So this time, I wasn't following the Christiany rules. In fact, I was being very deliberate to avoid trying to follow the rules. I needed help, not to feel like I was doing things right. I was clearly not doing something right, was how I figured it, because the situation wasn't resolving! I made a decision that I had no reasons left to try to do anything right. I basically just took out my heart and showed it to God, without trying to dress the situation up at all. Look here, God. Look at this heart. This hurts. And I don't know what to do. I know you can help me... will You?
You, my friend and reader, are right now telling me that yes, God would help me. And that's exactly the point. I know the Word of God says He can and will. But I couldn't see it happening, and I had to bring my sadness and fear and discouragement to God, not my solid theology. My brain was fine; it was my heart that was having problems. So that's what I brought to Him.
And the strangest thing happened. I told God that I was going to leave the situation up to Him. I wasn't going to try to force things anymore - I would do what needed to be done, but I would let Him bring the right results to me in His time. And to my amazement... God gave me peace. Not an immediate solution: peace. Peace with no visible results to back it up. Peace with no logic to it at all. Mind-blowing peace. I was not stressed at all. I was not panicky. I was just filled with peace.
Fast forward to now. I wanted to tell that story here, and I want to share over the coming weeks some things I've been learning from the Word about peace. Of course, you can also check out what I've written in the past here about both Peace and Fear, but stay tuned for some new entries coming up. I hope you get something good out of them!
The situation I mentioned still hasn't completely resolved itself, by the way. In fact, I've had a couple of fearful moments since then, and I've had to deliberately return to this attitude of approaching God as someone who is helpless without Him, not someone who thinks he can pray the right prayer to get Him to spring into action. But when I do approach Him with humility - and, honestly, with faith, because if I know I can't do it and I don't even try, then that's putting all of my eggs in His basket - when I approach God that way, not only do I immediately begin to receive His peace, but sometimes amazing things start to happen before too long.
Maybe I'll share one of those stories soon!