Today's post was adapted from a talk I did at the The Anchor Fellowship's women's conference last spring. I shared how trusting God and letting go of control helps to ease anxiety, plus, I added journal prompts at the end for reflection. I hope you find this post encouraging! (PS. If you'd like me to speak at your event, small group, or conference just shoot me an email to connect!)
When I was 8 or 9 years old, my Sunday school teacher gave us a print out of the Lord’s prayer. There was cardboard frame around it for us to decorate and some extremely sticky adhesive tape on the back. So when I got home, I was very excited to be a good Christian, so I took my freshly decorated Lord’s Prayer, applied that adhesive tape and stuck it right to the back of my wooden headboard. Slightly sideways, of course.
Every night I turned around to my headboard and recited the Lord’s prayer by flashlight. I felt like if I at least did that, then I’d probably be allowed into Heaven.
Sometimes I’d read it joyously, trying really hard to take in what the words meant. That always made me feel like a “good christian.” And sometimes I’d begrudgingly read it, worried that if I didn’t, I wouldn’t get into heaven.
At a young age, I clung to the idea that my acts would get me into Heaven.
I was missing the relational part of Christianity, skipping the part about God loving me, and going straight to the “fixing.” I was trying to make myself become acceptable to God.
But we were never meant to fix ourselves. That’s literally the point of Jesus.
Even with that realization, I find it hard to process the fact that the Lord loves me just as I am, with all of my flaws and balance that with being disciplined. It’s hard to wrap my mind around the idea of loving and having a relationship with this God that I haven’t seen. And why would I put my trust in Him and relinquish control of “fixing” myself or circumstances if I don’t have a relationship with Him? Why would I believe that He has the best for me if I don’t trust Him?
So the question is… how do we fall in love and build relationship with the Lord?
I think it starts by being present with Him. The exact same way we would with our other relationships...
- By spending time together.
- Asking questions.
- Learning about their perspective.
- Give positive affirmation (aka expressing gratitude).
- Build trust through experiences and time together.
So in the spirit of getting to know the Lord, let’s look at an example of how Jesus loves in John 14. For context, this is one of the last big conversations Jesus is having with His disciples before He is betrayed.
But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you. Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful. - John 14:26-27
If you know me… you might know that I actively fight stress and anxiety. As a business owner, this shows itself to be even more challenging. There’s always something that can stress me out and leave me feeling anxious until whatever it is, is resolved.
- I let emails eat away at me on the weekends
- I worry that I’m not actually good enough
- Or stress about a potential issue with a client that I’ve made up in my head (& will probably never ever happen), but I should probably just go ahead and prepare for it now because if it does happen, then I’ll most likely end up losing the client, then my other clients might all just bail at the same time as well, and then we won’t be able to afford groceries, and then we’ll never be able to buy a house, or car, or dog food, and we’ll DEFINITELY never be able to retire (ever!) and so on and so on and so on….
Do you ever let that type of worry get to you?
There’s this feeling I get of never being satisfied or at peace, until I’ve crossed that finish line. I have a hard time relaxing or releasing the stress of those things that are weighing on me, until I’ve figured out a way to resolve them.
But the problem is, once I’ve resolved that issue or completed a goal there’s always ALWAYS going to be something else... I mean, I’m literally describing life.
And when we let those things distract us from being present in our daily lives, we don’t get to experience that joy and fulfillment that the Lord has for us right now.
Don’t get me wrong, I do think there’s a healthy balance of seeking and growing and trying to reach that next step, while also enjoying the process. But how do we stay present in spite of those stressful moments and the things that tug on us? How do we find that balance?
I think we find joy in those circumstances by being continually surrendering our plans over to God. Because when we're where God wants us, we can let all of that stress slip away and trust that He’ll take care of the rest.
It goes back to us trying to fix things (ourselves or our circumstances) instead of leaning into our relationship with the Lord.
When we are pressing into the relationship part, loving Him and receiving His love, we learn that we can trust Him.
Just the other day I was with a friend who really needed my support and I found myself going through my to-do list in my head! In that moment it felt like the Lord nudged me and said..
“You’re where you’re supposed to be and you’re missing it.”
The Lord loves us, and has the best for us right where we are, whether we’re ready to accept that love or not. Whether we’re willing to take chance on Him or not.
And trusting Him and loving Him with our lives… is going to be a million times better than whatever we’re trying to do because… He wants us to have joy in the process of life.
So if we look back at Matthew 14, we see that even when the Lord was about to be crucified, He wasn’t focused on His to-do list of everything he needed to get done. He wasn’t worried about checking off boxes to be a good Christian… He was focused on US. His priority was to love us and love us well. He was comforting our worries when he was the one that was about to be nailed to a cross.
My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.
And he continues on in John 15, and gives us instructions on how to move forward after He’s gone. I think He’s giving us a way to connect with that true peace and love that He gives.
Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing… These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full. - John 15:4-5, 11
Read that last part again… "These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full."
As I spend more time with the Lord, his love proves to be more evident than ever. When I look at scripture, when I trust Him in the process and when I give Him space to do His work instead of trying to do everything myself… He always shows up.
The Lord hasn’t called us to fix ourselves. He’s called us to come to Him, and let His presence do the fixing. Because when you’re spending time with God, you can’t help but be changed by Him.
And if we can hold onto that truth deep down that the Lord loves us… we’ll learn what it’s like to love Him back.
As I start to love Him, I learn to trust Him.
And as I start to trust Him, I realize that He might actually have the best for my life afterall.
And when I trust His plan for my life, the less I have to try and control things and the more freedom I have to be present and focus on what He’s set before me.
It all starts with spending time, being present, and listening to Him.
So with that in mind, I wanted I’d love to give you some journal prompts for you to reflect or meditate on. Invite Him into this process. Create space for Him to show up.
- Do you believe (deep down) that the Lord loves you?
- Do you believe that He has the best for you and will show up for you?
- What would it look like if you laid down your agendas and openly asked, Lord what do you have for me? What might happen if you did?
I’d love to hear your thoughts, reflections and answers to these journal prompts! Let me know what you think in the comments... and if you liked this post, you might also dig this one on Trusting God with the Unknown.
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