Updated on December 6, 2015
Updated on December 6, 2015
I’m going to confess something. Sometimes I avoid you, conversations, interactions. I’m one of those people who, more often than I’d like to admit, sends your call to voice mail, turns quickly down another aisle at Target, or pretends not to see you just so I don’t have to have an uncomfortable conversation. The thought of some interactions, like a complaint from a client, a call from someone in my past, or seeing someone with whom I have a negative history, cause me a great deal of anxiety. I try to avoid it at all cost.
Yesterday I had one of those calls. I knew he’d be calling, and the story I made up in my head was that he would be unkind or angry. I also knew he was experiencing a great deal of suffering, and I didn’t know what I would say. So, I allowed the call to go to my voice mail, while I spent the next few hours inflating the story in my head, avoiding the inevitable, and allowing my anxiety to grow.
My husband kept telling me “Just make the call.” He reminded me that the other person isn’t in control of me, that if I would just get it over with I would feel better. I put it off until I was “ready,” drowning out the voice in my head that kept reminding me,
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything bring your requests to God and the peace that passes all understanding will guard your heart and your mind…
Oh God please help me with this conversation. If he’s mean and angry, help me to be kind. If he accuses me, help me to not be defensive. Give me words of comfort and healing. Please.
I stepped out on the patio and made the call. Contrary to the story I made up in my head, he was kind, he was thoughtful, he was doing the right thing. I was able to express my condolences. I was compelled to offer a gift and in the offering, I received a gift: relief and a teeny tiny bit of repaired relationship.
I sighed, thanked Jesus for helping me, and walked back into the house. Can I just tell you that it was down right dumb for me to have put off that conversation for three hours? How many peaceful moments did I miss because I let anxiety have it’s way instead of releasing it to my Savior and allowing him to hold me in the midst of it?
“Jesus’ definition of faith is the opposite of anxiety. If you’re anxious, if you are trying to control everything, if you are worried about many things, you don’t have faith.” (Richard Rohr, Jesus’ Plan for a New World)
I have a lot of work to do in this area friends, and I’m confessing to you that it’s a work in progress. It’s a daily surrender of my need to control outcomes, letting worry and anxiety rule my heart instead of quiet faith and trust that Jesus’ love for me is bigger than the story I make up in my head about what may or may not happen.
This season of Advent, where we have the opportunity to stop and pay attention, is the perfect time to reflect on the baby Jesus who came small and unassuming into our world. His coming was missed by so many, because his smallness wasn’t what they expected. The outcome they wanted wasn’t wrapped in forceful power, it was swaddled in quiet and stillness. How often I miss his appearance in my days.
Thank you Jesus for your ever-present peace that passes the understanding our feeble hearts and minds can contain. Thank you for never giving up on us no matter how many times we choose anxiety and control. Thank you for loving us enough to never let us stop growing in your small graces. Amen.