Thursday, October 24, 2013

From Contentment to Fear and Back

I apologize in advance for the length of today's blog. I just couldn't seem to edit it down. If you  don't have time to  read it, I do hope you'll revisit when you do have the time.

A few weeks ago, I was living in a state of contentment. It was bliss. It was like nothing I'd ever experienced before, and I'd been living there for several months. I had chosen to be content with where God had placed me, and it seemed to have spilled over into my everyday life. 

The anxiety I'd lived with for most of my life seemed to have disappeared. I was calm. I didn't rush. I really saw the lessons God was showing me. Things that typically threw me didn't seem to bother me. I felt almost drugged, I was so calm. I loved it! To my surprise, my blood pressure had even lowered to a very normal 120/78. I thought I had finally figured out the secret to stress-free living. I even blogged about it! (See "A New Outlook on Stress-9/30).  September 30th. Today is October 23rd (at least it is at the time I'm writing it!) - a mere three weeks.

Three weeks.  A lot can happen in three weeks. I lost a dear friend and a cousin, both in their 50s---my age. My husband, also in his 50s, had surgery (and if you have been following my blogs, you might remember that I had this fear that he was going to die). I had several doctor visits, tests and procedures, then waited for results from those procedures. On two separate occasions, my blood pressure was high-alarmingly high. One doctor, based on some symptoms I presented, told me that I could have something that, when I researched it on the internet (don't EVER, EVER do that!), sounded as if I didn't have long for this life. Saturday night, I'd convinced myself I was going to die.

How did I go from peaceful and content - more content than I'd ever been in my life, to fear-irrational fear? How, in three short weeks, did I manage to convince myself that I'd suddenly developed all kinds of maladies and I should get my affairs in order?

Well...first, having two contemporaries die will do that, I think. It makes you think of your own mortality. Doctors don't help. They mean well, but they scare us. Showing enough concern to schedule procedures, but waiting another three weeks for that procedure doesn't seem to concern them...so...should I be concerned?

But the bigger picture shows someone who is much more upset than I am. Satan. His goal is to steal and kill and destroy (John 10:10). He doesn't want us to be content or peaceful. He wants us to live in a constant state of anxiety and stress because that means that our focus has been taken off God and onto ourselves. Which means another small victory for him.

Back at Black Bear, LLC Headquarters, he calls a meeting in his corner office-in the War Room. Up on the screen is a picture of New Mary, content, peaceful, calm. "This is unacceptable!" He screams at his minions.  "Mary Flaherty is not allowed to be content. She's never been content. You know her; you've followed her all her life. Come on, this is a brainstorming session. What's her weakness?"

"Oh, that's easy!" Anxiety, says with a smirk. "Me! And my good buddies, Fear and Doubt. We'll hit her health. Bring her into unknown territory. She won't last long." 

"Do it!" Satan orders. "Bring her down. Do not allow that contentment (this he says with disgust, as if the very word causes him discomfort) to stay. Get rid of it. Overpower it. Do whatever it takes...well, what are you waiting for? Get out of here! Go!"

And off they go. Next thing I know, anxiety is creeping in to that old, familiar place. The fear of the unknown medical issues leave an opening. In the pit of my stomach, there is a door with a nameplate that says, "Anxiety." Anxiety doesn't need my invitation...it has its own key.

Fear comes next. It has frequent flyer miles it hasn't used, and decides it needs a holiday...it takes up residence in my mind and from there, comes the invitation for Doubt to move into my heart. 

I know I'm slipping. I know it's unreasonable. Worst is, I know I've lost my peace. Peace was trying to live comfortably in my heart, but the high blood pressure of Doubt squeezed it out. I've allowed a coup. My usurpers have established dominance. Old Mary is back-they are thrilled! But New Mary is confused...how did this happen? How do we get back our power, our peaceful land?

A counter-coup is necessary. And the only way to do that is through the Word of God. All I need to do is bring these thoughts before God and ask him if they are right and true! Tell these annoying gnats flying in my face to "take it up with my Boss!". Get off the Treadmill of Thoughts! But I can't seem to do it on my own. It's not working! That's when we have to call on the battalion at our disposal!

On our own, we can do nothing, especially when a coup is being launched. Sometimes, the battle is too big, or too advanced, and the only way to take back control is to allow our God to fight the battle. Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God's...You will not have to fight this battle. Take your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you (2 Chron 20:15-17, selected). 

Our position during the Lord's battle is to stand firm. We put on our battle gear and we do not allow ourselves to be moved. We take our positions-on our knees. It gives me great peace just knowing the Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still (Ex 14:14). When the waves of doubt, fear, and anxiety come, instead of trying to hold on, we need only call on Jesus, who rebuked the waves and said, Peace! Be still! (Mark 4:39). Only then did the waves die down and it was completely calm. The only way back to contentment is through peace and the only way to peace during a battle is to let the Lord fight it. Look to Jesus, who is right there in the boat with us, saying, Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith? (Mark 4:40)

Faith conquers fear. Peace conquers anxiety. Contentment conquers doubt. Jesus conquers all. Bow down and look up.

Blessings Along the Path,
Mary

Song(s) of the Day:
Because I needed several quieting songs to calm my soul today, I'm sharing them with you. The first one is the traditional hymn sung beautifully by a boys' choir. Listen as you feel the need...
Be Still My Soul (Libera)
Be Still and Know That I Am God (Stephen Curtis Chapman)
Be Still and Know (Scripture Lullabies)












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