But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
2 Corinthians 12:9 (ESV)
While I was in Ho Chi Minh City this summer, it was second nature to lean on Jesus for strength and joy. I was away from home’s comforts and routines. I missed spending time with Dellan, my family, and my friends. I was trying new things almost daily (like eating snail and hopping on the back of motorbikes and sharing my heart with hundreds of precious souls, to name a few).
As a young woman swayed easily into bouts of pretty severe anxiety, this was terrible; however, it was also the beginning of something really amazing. Praise God!
My morning alarm would sound. In a fog, I’d remember where I was and begin to worry. Worry about failure. Worry about being uncomfortable. I have never experienced such immediate, as-soon-as-I-wake-up anxiety like I did during those 8 weeks. I learned to begin praying as soon as my eyes opened: Jesus, I know you love me no matter what I do. You are present. You are good. You can be trusted. You help me when I am afraid. I give all my fears to you. Help me to step out in faith and show your love to others. Your love for me keeps me secure. He faithfully filled my soul with peace in any moment I cried out to him. And whenever I stepped out of my comfort zone, I saw Jesus work through me in incredible ways.
Fast forward to today. There’s not a lot of “new” or “scary” happening back in Ames. I wake up with little to fear. I pack my lunch, go to class, go to work. I sometimes work out. I chat with my roomies. I watch movies with Dellan. I go to church. I do my homework. I watch Grey’s Anatomy. I clean for fun. It’s all pretty simple.
If I’m careful, I don’t have to be anxious very often. I can easily avoid the sweaty palms, the racing heartbeat, and the churning thoughts.
But, then, it can become so easy to live as though I don’t need Jesus.
And, oh, I want to need him more. A self-dependent life is so unsatisfying. There is little pain, sure, but there is also little adventure or joy. When I imagine a life marked by years of routine and monotony in the name of avoiding discomfort, I am saddened because I know this is exactly where Satan would like to keep me. He despises God’s power. He does not want my weakness to display the glory of Christ.
So I’ve started rebelling against him in small ways (and I mean tiny ways) as a first step toward leaning on Jesus more in my everyday routine. I force myself to embrace my anxiety and allow Jesus to show up when I am powerless. And. it. has. been. awesome. Here are a few ways I’m currently practicing dependence:
I raise my hand in class. Yes, my heart speeds up even during this seemingly small task. I start sweating. I sometimes fumble over my words. I have, on a few occasions, said an answer that was completely wrong. But I’m also finding so much joy in trusting that Jesus is greater than my anxiety and loves me even when I make mistakes. My identity is not in what I do, it is in his care for me.
I know you love me no matter what I do. You are present. You are good.
I gave blood a couple of weeks ago. ISU’s blood drive was in the midst of a busy week and I had to carve out time in my schedule to go. Even though I’d donated before, I started worrying about possible pain and nausea and dizziness. I battled these thoughts with prayer. I felt peace after giving my fears to God; he is much bigger than needles, for sure.
You can be trusted. You help me when I’m afraid. I give all my fears to you.
I talk to complete strangers on campus. I offer compliments or ask questions about their day or what they’re studying. This morning I saw a girl wearing an adorable navy coat with white polka dots and said, “Hey, I really like your coat. It’s super cute.” I worried, as usual, that I’d receive a hardened or annoyed response from her. She smiled wide and thanked me. I praised Jesus for the opportunity to bring small glimmers of light into a dark world.
Help me to step out and show your love to others. Your love for me keeps me secure.
Even in these teeny practices, I am witnessing the abundant life that comes from leaning on the power of Jesus.
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have in abundantly.
John 10:10 (ESV)
My prayer is that these small steps of faith would, in time, turn into larger ones. I pray that Jesus creates a spirit in me that is willing to go, to do, to move, and to change whenever he asks me to–one that does not fear being anxious because it trusts in his promises. I want to keep pushing myself to be more and more uncomfortable.
He created me for adventure and risk and joy and peace all for the glory of his name.
…for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.
2 Timothy 1:7 (ESV)
What are some ways you push yourself to step out in faith? How are you embracing weakness to allow Jesus to work in your life? I’d love to hear!