Tuesday, September 7, 2010

an anxious heart

i have a new besetting sin. i have plenty of other ones, but worrying has not been one of my struggles for a long time...besides the occasional laboring over big decisions, adam has always been enough of a worrier for both of us. some of it has to do with the fact that i have been handling the money (or lack thereof) since adam started residency and though i am fully aware of the fact that we have much more than many, many people, my mind is always trying to figure out how we can be prepared for when our only car that is 10 years old has a problem that costs some serious cash. or what if the ac really needs more than batteries replaced in the thermostat (i figured that out on a call night recently and was so pleased with myself because usually i just break things and wait for poor adam to fix my mistakes). it is just tight...we have enough. barely. we are thankful, but i have been worrying instead of dwelling on the Lord's provision for our family thus far. the other things i worry about lately have been revolving around this belly babe...3 weeks until it reaches term and could make its arrival (with graham early and marit on time, i don't know what to expect). just saying THREE WEEKS made my heart rate go up just a little. it was about this time that i started having preterm labor with graham and was stuck on bedrest dilated to 5cm for 4 weeks. again, why am i not able to move my heart from fear to trust because can't i just look back and see His sovereign hand caring for us? it was a tough month for sure, but dear ones surrounded and supported and graham made it to term. we were not forsaken, but rather tenderly cared for. and then there is this project that sometimes we regret having started. it has been much more time-consuming and expensive than expected...though we know it will make having three (or more) kids a little easier in the long run. the other night on a very busy call night i made the mistake of crying about the impossibility of ever finishing it on the phone with adam after i had spent a harrowing 30 minutes trying to get my very sweet, but still impulsive 2 and 3 year old bathed and in bed without touching a saw of some sort or pile of sawdust or tripping over hammers and lumber and tile. after my pathetic emotional outburst, i was informed of adam's night shaping up to be one of the hardest of residency yet. oops. i just feel so helpless as my belly grows and i have the urge to work and prepare and nest, but i feel so limited in what i am capable of doing until the major stuff is done. we don't have to have a perfect nursery (not started yet at all) before the baby arrives. we certainly didn't with the other two, but i really don't want adam to have to spend tons of new baby transition time working on this beast. i want to mow the lawn and landscape the backyard, but adam says i am too pregnant and he's right...i'd probably pass out. adam did finish tiling the tub the other night (grouting it as i type), but he had to stay up until 2 am to do so between two busy days. i don't deserve him. his sacrificial, patient care of us in the midst of pure chaos in his work life really exemplifies Jesus to us. and then my anxious mind goes to thoughts about how in the world i am going to not just survive, but parent three kids well when i feel like i fail so often every day with the two i've been given. again, i know my life is not necessarily harder than the next mom of small children, but this is just a litany of my personal inner struggles, not any kind of comparison. as a worrier himself, adam has encouraged me to deal with my sin as it certainly does steal joy and hinders my ministry to marit and graham and others. and i have been trying to figure out how to go from fear to trust, worry to worship, anxiety to supplication and have been praying a lot of prayers like "Father, please enable me by Your grace to trust in your sovereign provision and to release my fear, worry, and desire to control..." this desire to control thing is new to me...taking me some time to wage war against this sin. i've also been singing these songs to myself lately:
*weary of earth, myself, and sin
* poor sinner, dejected with fear
*when overwhelmed with doubt and fear (this whole album is wonderfully encouraging and totally worth a download if you like remade hymns)
* pensive, doubting, fearful heart

i read this the other day in amy carmichael's book Edges of His Ways (i also highly recommend this little devotional)
sept 5th
These notes will have been entirely useless if they have not helped to bring us to the place where our happiness does not depend on the work we are doing, the place we are in, our friends, our health, whether people notice us or not, praise us or not, understand us or not. No single one of the circumstances has any power in itself to upset the joy of God, but it can instantly and utterly quench it if we look at the circumstances instead of up into the face of light and love that is looking down upon us-the Face of our own God.
This is the shining path, stretching away from the place where we stand today to the very heart of God. This is the shining path that shineth more and more as we walk in it.

do you see it? there is no perfect way to just tie up my anxious thoughts for good, but it is a constant, active, giving up, refocusing on Jesus and the beauty of the Gospel instead of my very temporary circumstances, desperately clinging to my good, good Savior. there is no promise that "it will all be ok." because, things might go all wrong (according to my plan anyway), my children will not be perfect and we might all suffer at times. we might be financially devastated. i might be tired for the next 10 years...i'm not asked to know, but simply to trust His care of us...

i have rambled enough, but know that i am wrestling with my sin and hoping for fewer emotional outbursts and less freaking out. pray for us as we prepare for huge changes around here...maybe i'll post more about the little people and their cutisms of late tomorrow.


City Grace said...

thanks for bearing your heart so honestly, love you and am so thankful for you.

Motsy said...

Ellen, I am incredibly grateful for your post today. Worrying is definitely a sin I struggle with frequently. Jon and I are going through some changes right now in our finances so worrying is happening a little more than normal. Thanks for the encouraging excerpt from the devotional and music. I look forward to seeing how God brings you guys through this and trust that everything will work out according to His good and perfect plan.

Hope to see you guys next week!

Kevin and Tara said...

"we must focus on our Maker instead of so much on ourselves…there is a confidence that is only found in His enduring love for us" Someone really great quoted this, I think you know her ;) I'm also reminded of God's Word that tells us to "be anxious about nothing but in everything by prayer and thanksgiving present your requests to God....and the PEACE of God will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus." Phil. 4:6 Praying you will find grace to live this out...

charlotte said...

Ellen, your constant care for me over the last couple of weeks when I know you're dealing with so much has meant the world to me. Know that you are a shining window of God's love even when you're struggling inside. I love you, sister!