Tag Archives: trial

Suffocated by fear

9 Jan

I am seeing more and more that this is the reality of my life: I am being suffocated by fear. Specifically by the fear of man.

Let me back up: ever since we returned from Christmas vacation, I have felt depressed and gloomy. And not just like “This day sucks”–more like “My whole life sucks.” I have been questioning my job, my activities, my abundance of down time and feeling like  all I do is vain and worthless. My days are filled with nothing but idle fancies and mediocre attempts at life. But I’ll stop there lest I bore you with my “woe is me” babblings.

Even though I feel like being dead to the world, I have continued to exercise and get in the Word. And I went to my Women’s Group last night. (But I don’t care right now about my house being clean and tidy.)

The most helpful thing I’ve done is think. And ponder. Just in the past 24 hours, I’ve realized big things with even bigger implications.

I avoid human interaction.

It’s not that I don’t like people. I’m scared that they won’t like me.

I never thought I was a people pleaser. I thought I was confident enough of myself that I would do or say what I wanted.  Until today. I saw it with complete clarity and it explains a lot…

I’m not a people pleaser in the stereotypical way. When I hear “people pleaser,” I think of  a woman who bounces around, talking to everyone, never saying anything mean, always happy and cheerful, never a drag or downer on anyone, etc. I am definitely not that woman (Travis will vouch for that).

Instead, I want so much to please people–and am so scared that I won’t–that I don’t interact with them at all. I avoid them, pretend I don’t see them, don’t call them back. I’ve gotten a lot better at this since becoming a Christian (mostly because I’m mature enough to push myself to do it anyway) but I always get a sinking, panicked feeling when I know I’m going to have to talk to someone I don’t know that well. “What if it’s awkward? What if I don’t know what to say? What if I say something stupid? What if there’s a dead silence? What if? What if?”

Case in point: I go to an aerobics class 2 times a week. It’s at 5:30 AM in the morning so only the same ole die-hards go at that time. Pretty much the same women are in every class. Do I know a single one of their names  (besides the instructor’s because hers was posted on the schedule)? Nope. Do they know mine? Nope. When someone tries to talk to me, do I encourage the conversation or do I answer their question and then move off in a hurry? You guessed it…the latter.

Case in point: When a vendor who I’ve been working for almost a whole year now calls me on the phone, my stomach still sinks in the “I have to talk to him on the phone?” kind of way.

Case in point: The graphic designer I’m working with has had to make umpteen changes to our youth leader conference notebook. When my boss came over today with yet another change, I didn’t want to tell him that I didn’t want to ask our graphic designer to make another change but I didn’t want to disappoint my boss either. A tough decision of who to please…the graphic designer won. (But only until Monday when I need to ask Phil about paying him more money for all of those changes…dangit!!)

I don’t make time for other people. And I don’t go out of my way to talk to people. Besides my boss and people I work with directly (and them only when it’s necessary), I rarely talk to anyone at work.  I mingle at church but only when I’m “in the mood.” I don’t talk to any strangers. Most of the time I don’t even say hi. Even with the women who are in my care group, the women I know the best out here in CO, I feel unlike myself and very conscious of what I say and who I am around them. 

I didn’t used to be like this!! In college, I met and interacted with new people all the time. I discipled girls. I had close friends. I talked to lots of people at work. What is happening to me?!?!? I feel so far from that girl I used to be that I have no idea where to start in getting back there…

These realizations coupled with the challenges at my job and the exhaustion I feel for no apparent reason make me want to both cry and throw my hands up in defeat. I feel defeated. I feel so overcome with failure and incompetency that I feel suffocated. I feel like I’m stuck underwater, breathing through a straw.

I do believe that God is sovereign over everything and that He loves me…so He is in control of the way I feel right now and ultimately, He is using this  life reckoning for my good. I know that good will come out of all of this…which is why I haven’t allowed myself to give up hope or to stop thinking about what’s wrong and praying for God to mend my life. It may be broken but it’s redeemable.

But I do look at other people, even other Christians, and envy their contentment in life. They are finding joy in their everyday lives. They feel like what they do everyday, no matter how mundane or anticlimatic, is right and they understand their life. At least that’s what it looks like. I’m pretty sure they understand their lives better than me. Because I don’t understand mine at all.

I know God created us to be humans and to do humans things, like shower and drive cars and read books and laugh and joke and sleep. But there is a voice inside me that won’t stop saying “There’s got to be more to life…”

I’ve been reading through Romans since the new year began and yesterday and today I’ve been focused on 1:21-32. The verses illustrate what humans are like without God’s grace and loving restraint in their lives. Verses 28-32 show all the sins that result from having a depraved mind–there are a lot of them.

I’ve been very aware of my mind lately and how it has been questioning and arguing with God, the gospel, and what I thought I knew of reality. I know that I have a depraved mind. I see in myself a complete inability to believe anything about the gospel without God enabling me to believe it. So I am very comforted by another verse, Colossians 3:16, which I will end on.

“…Put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its Creator.”

Amen.

Gulp.

7 Jan

I found out Monday afternoon that, in addition to Mandee leaving for grad school, the other Mandy is leaving in March to help out with her husband’s company. So the people left in MarComm are me and…me.

Gulp.

Tristan is the only other person technically part of the MarComm department but he doesn’t help with mailings, advertising, PR, tradeshows, partnerships, strategy, etc.–in short, all the things that are now on my plate (and my boss’ too).

“Well at least you have job security,” Mandy said.

I guess…

I’m trying to not freak out; really, I am. I’m trying to trust the Lord with it  and believe that I can learn the ins and outs of PR and advertising in a month and a half. I can handle this.

I’m still freaking out a little. I mean, I’m in the department alone. Me. I AM the Marketing Dept. I feel overwhelmed and underprepared. I am daunted by the tasks ahead. But I’ve been reminding myself of Philippians 4:13–“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” So with the Lord’s help, I can get through this season.

But still, a little voice says…

Gulp.

Living for God’s glory

8 Nov

Oh, how hard I struggle to do this: live for God’s glory. It seems every time I turn around, I have yet another selfish, narcisstic, vain, sinful ambition or motive. Nothing brings these times out like marriage. A few days ago, I listened to a couple sermons on marriage by Tim Keller and in one of them, he says that marriage is used as a santificiation tool. Now, I knew that before I got married, and I do believe God was sanctifying me through Travis even before we were married. But nothing prepared me for this!

If marriage is a sanctification tool, then sanctification happens quite a bit differently than I thought it did before getting married–because I see all my sin coming out, but don’t feel like I’m being “sanctified” from it. I’ve heard it said before “When you pray for patience, does God give you patience or does He give you situations that you have to be patient in?” Marriage is a constant situation that requires so many virtues, all of which I feel I have only a microscopic sliver of–nowhere near the full amount I would need to be a good, humble, servant-minded, submissive wife.

Travis frequently tells me “You’re such a good wife.” While I know that he says it in knowledge of (and in spite of) my sinfulness, I truly feel like I don’t deserve such gratitude or compliments. So I respond “No I’m not.” I fall SO SHORT of who I want to be–and who the gospel says I could be! Just this past weekend, I kept saying and doing things I immediately regretted (over stupid stuff!) and got to the point where I wanted to just go to bed and sleep so that I didn’t have to deal with the stupid, horrible, sinful person I was being.

I know that I’m not believing the gospel. Reading Knowing God by J.I. Packer and listening to those sermons by Tim Keller, I have been shown that I am not resting in God’s opinion of me and in the hope of the gospel. I am living in a “world without windows” as Tim Keller says–meaning I am not living with my eyes set on the hope of heaven but rather set on the concerns of this moment–namely, my own desires, needs, and happiness. When I don’t get MY way, I get angry (and most of the time, I also get even.)

I just read a blog post about marriage and the struggle to believe in the sufficiency of Christ and the gospel by my friend Katie. She wrote, “I know I am being changed daily to be more like Christ, but it seems such a slow process…If I’ve been radically forgiven by Christ for all of my short-comings and for all of the sin in my life, shouldn’t I freely give grace to those around me, especially my husband?” I feel like I could have written those words. Except I probably would’ve said “I know I am being changed daily to be more like Christ…wait, do I know that? It doesn’t seem like ANYTHING is HAPPENING!!”

I have come to realize that while in the bubble of Campus Outreach, I was guilty of using all those truth phrases of the Christian life that have been so conveniently encapsulated into bitesize nuggets (so that the Christian can suavely throw them out in any conversation). Well, that bubble has popped. And all those phrases are still floating around my head–except I no longer know what any of them mean. Oh sure, I could explain them with WORDS. But the practical side of those truths got lost somewhere on the highway between Minneapolis and Denver.

Take, for example, living for the glory of God. I can sort of wrap my mind around the concept. But I can’t for the life of me seem to figure out what that truth means for my life.

Or take Living in light of the gospel. I understand the idea. I also could tell you what the gospel is and why it should effect me. Here is what I would not be able to explain: why it DOESN’T affect me. Why I am left with being the sinful, selfish, stupid person I was before I became a Christian. I know that I will continue to sin as long as I am on the earth. I just didn’t know I would still be so…pathetic.

I feel like I am at a stalemate, like the apostle Paul (oh, what glorious words!): “I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!…There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 7:18-8:1)

The Bible doesn’t mention specifics in its exhortations to “live for the glory of God.” It doesn’t say “To live for the glory of God, you must work for charities in addition to serving the homeless, all while caring for sick animals and doing at least one mission trip every year.” It doesn’t say “To live for the glory of God, you must work at a job that contributes something to the greater good of society.” There are no specifics like that in the Bible. In fact, to illustrate this point about living for the glory of God, the apostle Paul uses eating and drinking, 2 things that every single human must do or else they die.

Even though there aren’t any specifics, I have been trying and trying to discern them for my life–and to no avail. I am starting to realize (through the help of the Holy Spirit no doubt) that the specifics of how to live out the Christian life come out of the principles of the Christian life. I need to understand the principles before I can understand the specifics.

That very thought leaves me completely empty-handed. I have seen increasingly more over the past year how completely incapable I am of discerning any spiritual truth without the Spirit’s guidance and prompting. Each time I blog, pray, read, or think about these things, I am left without my own resources, but utterly dependent on God’s spiritual provision in my life. To be sure, without Him, I am nothing.

“Wretched woman that I am! Who will save me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” The gospel is all I got.