Come to the Father

In the past few months I’ve learned things about myself I never expected to be true, I guess it’s the natural progression for a gal on the cusp of adulthood. God has faithfully pulled back layers and layers of experiences, lies and doubts that shape who I’ve been up to this point, and replaced them with Gospel truths about my identity as His daughter.

This revelation from Jesus is sweet, but it requires me to wrestle with the lies I’ve believed for so long.

My natural bent is toward anxiety, and I’ve fought with it more these past few months than I have all my life. Physically, emotionally and mentally I have been tossed about by the waves of anxiety, becoming all the more worse for the wear. Inescapable, that’s the word running through my mind. Anxiety tells you you’re alone, that no one would think to help you or would understand. Anxiety lies and says you have to face it by yourself, but at the same time, anxiety’s favorite word is avoid. And so, like any reasonable person, I lay awake at night feeling alone, helpless and avoiding the problem.

As a Christian, I knew in my head my first response should be running to Jesus, but something within me refused. Perhaps anxiety-induced pride dominated my mind and told me You have to find a way out of this on your own. Maybe my loneliness shouted at me that God wouldn’t listen. I wouldn’t be surprised if I avoided him simply because I didn’t want to address it. Those things likely factor in, but the truth is I avoided God because I lacked faith, and because I knew He saw my doubt.

Scripture doesn’t promise physical safety, and this has been Satan’s biggest case for my own anxiety. It’s not enough to me that my spiritual inheritance, the most important and valuable thing I’ve been given (1 Peter 1:7), will not perish (1 Peter 1:4). I believe I must ask God for more; I want him to guarantee my protection. I demand that He give it to me because I believe it best for me. And I question His character if He answers with anything but yes.

On the perhaps my darkest night wrestling with anxiety, the Spirit prompted me to search for a passage I treasured as a child but had long since forgotten. So, pulling out my Bible, I propped myself up in bed and began praying that God would show me the verse. In that search, God led me to countless promises of security and rest. I thumbed through chapter after chapter of Psalms, searching for peace and finding an unexpected abundance.

“Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him. Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will will not be shaken. My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge. Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.” (Psalm 62:5-8)

Throughout the book of Psalms, David cries out to God; he lays his whole heart before the Father and says “Help me, hear me, answer me!” Why don’t we do the same? I think many Christians feel shame for struggling with anxiety. We are told it is insensible to fear things like physical safety or that it’s spiritually immature to worry about anything other than our souls and the souls of others. When we believe those things, we shy away from the truth and avoid God. Instead, in our anxiety and in our doubt, we should pour out our hearts to Him. Come before His throne and confess our fears, plead with Him for peace. He may not promise us safety, but He does promise us security.

Even as I write this, I feel the Holy Spirit pressing me to prayerfully seek out an explanation for my present fears, to approach God and ask why.

Father, why? Why this? Why now? Why does my spirit wrestle with anxiety? What are you trying to show me? What gift are you trying to give me?

In all of this, let us not be ashamed of our anxiety; guilt and shame are not of Jesus. Let the Holy Spirit’s conviction replace self-reproach and push us to the feet of the Father. Let us be reminded that our inheritance is sealed (1 Peter 1, y’all) and that there is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1). And finally, let us approach the throne of God with confidence.

He loves it when we call on His name.

P.S. Those passages that comforted me when I needed peace? Favorites are … Psalm 61 & 62; 63:6-8; 68:19; 70:5; 71:14-16; 73:23-28 and especially Psalm 77—woo, it’s a good one. Rest in Jesus, dear friends.

EssaysMary Grace Metheny