“And he did not do many mighty works there because of their unbelief.” (Matthew 10:58)
Yesterday as I sat in the middle of the forest alone, gazing around at the absolute beauty, but with tears streaming down my face once again, I suddenly felt done. Done with stress, done with sadness, done with striving. It’s as if those three ‘s’ words have been Satan’s Hisssssssss in my life for the past 5 years.
It started with an auto-immune diagnosis about 6 years ago. In an attempt to treat myself, I began taking hormone supplements which caused an extremely high anxiety reaction within me. Although I was a confident and capable leader at work, managing a team of about 10 people, I started to feel surges of adrenaline pump throughout my body at even just the slightest of discomforts. I knew something was very wrong was when my boss casually asked to speak to me in the conference room (a slight anxiety inducing event), but my body responded with total shaking from head to toe as if I just stood out on a stage in front of 1000 people. I started attempting to try other doses and brands, but my anxiety wouldn’t diminish. I now was popping multiple Xanax’s a day and started to feel afraid of nearly every social interaction. Of course I stopped the hormones, but the sensitive nervous system remained.
I often avoided bible studies where I might have to introduce myself, work meetings and events if I could, social dinners out, any situation where it might be noticeable if I suddenly felt my body start to shake. I felt fear everywhere I went. It become a constant inner struggle with me always attempting to stay within my comfort zone of people and places, which often lead to copious amounts of wine to calm my nerves.
This debilitating social anxiety struggle led to serious depression which I would try to comfort with nightly bags of M&M’s washed down with wine. My weight had risen along with my sadness and I was now at 205 pounds on my barely 5’3″ frame. It was July of my 39th birthday, 2.5 years ago when I declared that I needed a change and would become a ‘fit’ person before 40.
I then took the next two years, lost 40 pounds, gained a ton of strength and confidence, reduced my anxiety (but it was still there) and added a new shiny idol in my life as well. After about a year of fitness being my identity and self-worth, all started to crumble.
It began with a nervous system crash because tons of caffeine, fat burning supplements, not enough sleep, 7 days a week of intense training is too much on an already sensitive nervous system. As my system began to crash, my emotions and body were completely out of wack, I started to uncontrollably cry all the time, had constant insomnia and fatigue, lost strength, felt my fight or flight response on constant high alert.
In conjunction with this, I experienced a lovely, humiliating rejection from a guy that I had liked for 8 months and finally worked up the courage to talk to. It may not have seemed like a big deal to a person outwardly looking in, but if you knew how much social anxiety I had to work though, how much energy and courage it took to put myself out there, it was a huge crash, that which I managed to obsess over for way too long.
The year continued on and I turned 40, got laid off, experienced two unfortunate failed job attempts, agonized over what to do next career and money wise since I suddenly couldn’t bring myself to sit in an office any longer, ended up selling almost everything I owned, moved into my friend’s garage, then my parent’s house, then half across the country with two roommates, one of which we just had to evict for drug use. All while my nervous system never fully recovered, causing me to have to give up the one thing I felt I had left, which was my fitness, at least the intense training and heavy lifting that I loved. That brings you mostly up to date with me, sitting in the forest, tears streaming down my face wondering why everything seems to have to destroy me to move me.
And just as suddenly as I decided two years ago that I WILL become a fit person, I said to myself, I WILL become a FAITH person. I looked back on my life and although I’ve had some really great times of being used for God, and I’ve experienced accomplishments, and joy, I would overall define my life as a near constant struggle. A daily struggle for survival. My thoughts were brought to my prayer life and I had the realization that my prayers are always, “Lord, get me through this day.” I am never asking for more. I have so many hopes and dreams, but in reality, I am not believing God for them. And even if I did, I’m truthfully terrified of them.
Sometimes I think it’s easier and safer to stay in survival mode, never believing God for greatness, because then we will never have to step out into it.
God has said in his Word that He will do abundantly more than we dare even ask or imagine. (Ephesians 3:20) How am I not asking, how am I not imagining?
I don’t want to be the place that God leaves without doing many might works because of my unbelief. I know the answer may be no, and I know the hard things are always actually grace, but it’s time I start asking for my hopes and dreams, the miracle things that only HE can accomplish. Because I believe that God is waiting to respond to our faith, waiting to perform the miraculous, and waiting for us even to ask.
Your Personal Reflection
Are there dreams that you have but are afraid of actually receiving or accomplishing?
How can you let go of the hiss (stress, sadness, and striving) and instead have faith in your current situation today? What does that look like for you in your actions and attitude?
What mighty works can you ask God in faith for right now?
“Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.”