Friday, January 25, 2013

Surpassing all Understanding

The other day I sat across from my doctor and listed the symptoms. Anxiety. Racing heart. Nausea. Shaking. 

Before he responded with his diagnosis, I could already hear the words he was about to speak whisper into my ear. Panic attack. And sure enough, seconds later, he proceeded to confirm what I already knew. We talked about options; we talked about a solution and thankfully, underlying his words was the reaffirmation that I needed to hear: you'll get through this.

The other night, as my mom sat across from me on my bed, and I recounted to her the conversation between my doctor and I, she frowned and put words to questions I too have wrestled with. "But I don't get it," she said. "How can you have panic attacks when you have the peace of God?"

And I sat, stumped by her question, because in all reality I just really don't know.

But tonight, questions stir in my heart because I wonder.

Does the peace of God mean the absence of anxiety? 

If there's anything my life has taught me, it isn't that Christ necessarily seeks to take away trials from us but rather He seems to want to walk through them with us.

And I just wonder, if even in the midst of a panic attack, His peace is found in the Hand that holds mine and gently whispers, "Breathe. You've got this. You'll be okay." And in doing so, those times of severe anxiety don't reflect a lack of peace but rather peace that surpasses all human understanding. Instead those times reflect the great presence of Peace.

I'm reminded of the verse in Exodus, "The Lord will fight for you. You need only be still." The battle was never averted but rather God promised to fight it for them. He was just as present in the midst of the battle as He would have been in its absence!

And I wonder if maybe, just maybe, His Presence and Peace are just as present in the midst of anxiety as they are in its absence.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Just a Little More Grace

The other day I got a text from a friend:

"So, any new year's resolutions?" 

I thought about it for a moment. The freshness of a new year brings new hope, new encouragement, the blessing that your actions will be fruitful if you just put your mind to it. The past year, the slate listed with failures is wiped clean, and the new year promises steps forward and no stepping back. It's the perfect opportunity to dream. To resolve.

But for me, I've learned not to mark the beginning of a new year with ways to change because I want my life to be one where I'm always changing, always challenging myself, and always growing.

So instead I choose my word. I choose a word that sums up what I want to learn this year and how I want to grow. Last year my word was wait, and without a doubt 2012 was a year of waiting. Sometimes painful waiting. But I learned patience, and I learned trusting in the waiting {but even then it will probably be a lesson I learn again and again through this life}.

This year my word is grace. Because it's in His grace that I am made new, and it's through His grace that I experience His love. It's in the grace that has been offered to me by His Church that I found the freedom to offer grace to myself. And I've been wondering what my life would be like if it was marked by the kind of grace that He offers me. 

What if I turned the other cheek more often than nought?

What if I offered forgiveness when it was least deserved, when it hurt so much to offer that grace that it made me cry?

What if I, in grace, held my mouth closed and only offered words of conviction when the Spirit led?

Grace. I'm learning that grace reflects Him, because we live in a world where grace isn't offered very much. We choose to give what's deserved. We chase after the one that's wronged us. And I just wonder what this life might be like if we all gave - and received - a little more grace.

So that's my word. Here's to a beautiful 2013, filled with challenges and laughter and tears and grace.

{Linked up to the OneWord community here.}