I meant to post this back when it happened, but my life was a little crazy at the time...just starting my Christmas break after being sick and needing to restore order to my classroom. I was trying to get as much school stuff done at the beginning of break that I could in order to not have it hanging over my head the rest of the 2 weeks. My devotion book Jesus Calling by Sarah Young is amazing. God is ALWAYS flooring me with His small whispers each night when I read this. I was thinking about times when God tells me things. Like when I asked Him why my mom had cancer years ago or when I watched so many dear friends get married in the same short period of time and I asked Him when it was my turn. God doesn't always answer those questions for me. Those specific two He did, but the majority of questions I ask don't get straight answers right away. So in my thought process I came to the conclusion that God doesn't speak to me that often. But then I thought about my Jesus Calling, and I changed my answer. God speaks to me almost every day!
I do my devotion at the end of the night when I need to wind down and dump all the craziness on His shoulders so I can sleep in peace. Jesus Calling is very short but is jam packed full of important messages that always seem to be EXACTLY what I need to hear that night. December 18th was awesome.
I have been revisited by my friend Anxiety. The craziness of teaching during the holidays, pushing myself even more to be creative and fun and make school the best place ever for my 19 little kinders has been no match for me. I've succumbed daily to the tension headaches mixed with nausea every morning. It heightened in the last 3 days of school when I came down with a fever and had to take a couple sick days. Shortly after that frustration, God gave me His Jesus Calling message. Here it is:
When you are plagued by a persistent problem--one that goes on and on--view it as a rich opportunity. An ongoing problem is like a tutor who is always by your side. The learning possibilities are limited only by your willingness to be teachable.
In faith, thank me for your problems.
Ask me to open your eyes and your heart to all that I am accomplishing through this difficulty. Once you have become grateful for a problem, it loses its power to drag you down. On the contrary, your thankful attitude will lift you up in heavenly places with me. From this perspective, your difficulty can be seen as a slight, temporary distress that is producing for you a transcendent glory never to cease!
Because the entries are so short, the only way that I think they can be read is slowly--constantly stopping to savor and absorb each truth every couple of lines. Can you see the one that knocked me over? "In faith, thank me for your problems." I stopped still when I read that having a slight debate with God in my head. Well my problem is obviously anxiety right now. I've tried so many things, and I'm at the point that I'm losing more sleep and weight than is healthy for me. This seems so wrong to say 'thank you' for though. I've always just thought 'consider it pure joy when you face trials of any kind' meant to have an overall thankful attitude--knowing that You're in control of it ultimately. I didn't think it meant to actually vocalize the thankfulness. I guess it couldn't hurt though.
So I stopped and prayed--thanking God for my anxiety because I knew He was teaching me with it. He was giving me a great opportunity to rely on His strength in my weakness. I couldn't experience that with quite as much understanding if I didn't have anxiety. So I said "thank you." I wasn't entirely sold on the idea while I prayed it, but in spite of the small skepticism, I prayed very genuinely.
The most amazing thing happened. Some nights I go to bed with a little anxiety. It's worse in the morning, but it's not uncommon for me to go to bed with a tightness in my stomach. It hasn't worked its way to nausea at this point, and I usually scramble into bed quickly to try and fall asleep before I allow my mind to dwell on it enough to make it worse. This particular night, I had the tightness. As soon as I prayed in thankfulness, I felt the tightness slowly loosen its hold on my stomach and slip away. It didn't come back. It was incredible. I wasn't praying for God to heal me. I wasn't praying for Him to please make the discomfort go away and keep nausea out of the picture. I just said "thanks," and it was gone.
I had an image of Satan being defeated in that moment. I don't believe that God gives me the anxiety; that's why it felt so weird to thank Him for it. But choosing to thank God for the things that He could "work together for good" in that problem, it was like me and God joined forces and the evil that Satan intended to do with it diminished. Now it wasn't about the evil. It was about the good. It made me laugh, "Haha! Satan, you can't have this anymore. God's doing good things with it. You don't get the credit anymore!"
There's been a few times I've prayed this prayer when I feel the uneasiness settle in again. I think there's a part of my mind that is skeptical because I'm on Christmas break right now while I praying it. I'm not back in my highly stressful environment that is causing it. I think the real test will come when I'm faced with the nausea in the mornings that my pace has picked up again. I'm desperately hoping and praying that it won't happen anymore. I'm making a lot of lifestyle changes to try and better this situation and alleviate the stress. I worked with God on my new schedule last night. I've incorporated a strict bedtime, a small amount of time for unwinding with an enjoyment book each night, a full day of rest without any school related work, and a little bit of exercise 4 days a week. Every other month I'm planning to get a massage, and I lessened my commitment to church again. Over the break I've been making a very conscious choice to have a positive attitude. I've been choosing to focus on things I have to look forward to instead of monotonous constraints that bring me down. And most importantly, I'm thanking God for my anxiety.