Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Undercover

[what's brewing: I hope the water is hot enough to kill any germs; I can't get sick; what if I do...]

My somewhat excessive (okay, slightly neurotic) treasure keeping ways tells you something about who I am and how I operate. Beyond being a treasure keeper, this diary of Coffeegirl Confessions has revealed that I am also:

  • an introvert
  • a coffee lover
  • a creative copycat
  • a reader
  • a lover of chocolate
  • a lover of beauty and
  • a learner of language

And now I must confess another quality that is deeply engrained within me: I am a worrier. I don’t wear this one proudly; in fact, I scarcely acknowledge that I am a worrier on most occasions because I am largely an undercover worrier. Undercover not because my worry is so subtle I don’t see it, but because I tend to call worry by a different name which allows me to forget its true identity most of the time.

In the thought world that keeps my mind running in circles instead of resting in His peace, I call my worry by the name of wisdom. As I rehearse different scenarios in my mind and anxiously wonder what will happen in this situation and how I’ll respond and what I’ll do next, I convince myself that the investment of my thoughts and energy in this way is an exercise of wisdom. It’s planning ahead, anticipating possibilities, and developing responses in advance. Worry is something else entirely, I tell myself. In fact, it may even be un-wise not to think things through as I do.

And then there are moments like last Thursday night when my oh-so-wise ways bring me to an emotional breaking point and my anxiety over the unknown feels as if it could literally kill me. In tears of desperation, the veil is lifted and my eyes can see the true identity of my torturer: worry.

This verse is as familiar to you as it is to me:

"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?” (Matthew 6:25)

But I read this and say, yes, life is more important than food, the body more important than clothes; therefore I contemplate worry about these things: life, health, relationships. I am a planner – a self-proclaimed control freak. I long to feel in control of my circumstances; not to control what happens, but to consider and anticipate every possible outcome so that nothing can take me by surprise.

If you remember the Choose Your Own Adventure books from years ago, you can understand what I mean when I say that in times of uncertainty, I create countless combinations and sequences of events to try and gain some understanding and control over what may be coming my way. If I just knew what were going to happen, I could handle it so much better. But again, when the veil is lifted through the power of Truth, I see what is hiding beneath my well reasoned ways: worry. And not just worry, but unbelief.

On Thursday night, in the midst of tears and anxiety, I read these words on a blog that was recommended to me recently:

We are all in His divine, omnipotent care. He has numbered our days. He orders our steps. The more we believe this with evangelical faith, the more we will be set free from worrying because we will see it for what it is — unbelief. God loves us and He loves our children more than we do. What a great relief and blessing the truth always is. Wisdom doesn’t worry.


These words stripped away my well rehearsed justifications and injected truth right where it was needed.

Worry isn’t wisdom. Wisdom doesn’t worry.

15 comments:

MoziEsmé said...

So well said...

kimom said...

I know deep down that worry = unbelief, but I so often forget! Does the Prov. 31 woman 'laugh at the future' because she has faith that God will provide and sustain us? Oh, that we worriers could all learn to laugh at the future in faith!

Maybe living on the mission field brings our impurities to the surface. I know several colleagues who have become more into 'control' than before, and I'm guessing it has to do with living such a chaotic life. Thoughts?

Missionaries in La Ceiba, Honduras said...

Amen sister!

Greetings from Guatemala said...

Thanks for sharing!! I needed this today! LOVE your blog!!!

Stephanie said...

Yes! I hear you and relate. I am a planner and there seems such a fine line between simple organization and control. Oh, Lord, continue to give me your perspective.
Thanks for sharing your heart and your struggle.

Becky Aguirre said...

Thank you for your openness and honesty about this issue! I definitely relate to this...I often lay awake at night with my mind galloping through different scenarios and possible solutions...I've had to do learn to bring those thoughts into captivity and give it to God. Love those verses! Some of my absolute favorites because they speak to my heart.

I've had many people comment on how our family just seems to take things so calmly and be flexible, but I give all the credit to God, having worked in my life in this area! It isn't always true...I am naturally more of a 'worrier'! And I often still struggle with it on different levels...probably not something that will be 'fixed' once and for all...

@kimom-I agree with you, I think that anytime we step out of our "normal" way of life and get stretched, it definitely brings out those impurities! I'm not exactly sure what you mean by "colleagues who have become more into 'control' than before", are you referring to them being more into trying to plan and control their lives while on the mission field?

Ellie said...

I agree with you. I guess I am also a secret worrier...

Recently, I have a friend who doesn't let me worry. If I try to, I get firmly told "don't live in the what-if's"!

I try. I at least acknowledge that they are "what if's". It is a step.

But, then I watched a program about responding in a disaster like a fire or airline crash or anything like that. It said that there are ten percent of people who respond the right way and live, and others follow them and live. It is as if their mind is able to assess the situation, and in a split second react well, as if they had practiced and prepared for it. So.... some mild, wise worry... might not be bad? Enough worry to look for the exits in a large room... to know to drop to the floor when you hear gunfire... to run instead of freeze...

But perhaps that is not worry, but wisdom.

Perhaps it is about where we run to when we are struck with a sudden attack of umm.. "wisdom"... Do we run to God or to our own resources?

I tend to run in circles for awhile. Until God quiets me down enough to sit still and look at Him.

kimom said...

Becky -I meant missionary wives who obsess over every last cleaning detail or who insist on creating regular 3 course meals that take 2 people all day to create. Some would say 'anal', but I think a desire for control over at least ONE aspect of life can seem at least temporarily reassuring. Have you known any people like that?

Becky Aguirre said...

@kimom, sounds like you mean people who overcompensate for the chaos in their lives by becoming super controlling in other areas...yes, I've seen it and it can be very damaging to themselves and others around them if it gets out of hand. Nothing wrong with setting limits or establishing a routine if you can, but I've seen some missionaries who seem to have allowed their desire for control turn into an obsession in one or more area...then there is the danger for that control to become more important than relationships or ministry. And that can bring a lot of problems...

I think I am discovering that it is really hard to remain emotionally healthy on the mission field, therefore even more important than ever to establish a close walk and dependence on God, releasing control over every part of my life and offering it to God for service. I think that letting go and just 'going with the flow' sure helps a lot to not get so uptight about things!

Sojourning Together said...

Again well said! My prayer is that each of us can ask God to enable us to grasp hold of His love for us because I have found that that has changed my whole perspective and I trust and even look for expectantly His hand at work but moreso than anything else my fear of the unknown (or known in some cases) is banished. And this is my normal state of thinking feeling now...Besides He loves it and gets the glory when we find Him sufficient...and He is...will we let Him be sufficient in our lives?

Ellie said...

@Becky - "I'm finding that it is really hard to stay emotionally healthy on the mission field."

Why? Not asking from a "I know better than you" - you know I don't! But a real, why? Let's talk about this. Because I am finding the same thing... even harder to become emotionally healthy again when you've become "cracked".

How can we do this better? How can we help each other with this better?

I was just at a team retreat where the leaders at least knew that we've been going through a really rough time, and all we got was a cheery, "Hi! How are you?!" from them. Get this - the topic was about being real to help each other more!!!

So - open question: Why? What makes it hardest for you to stay emotionally healthy? What helps? What doesn't? How can we best help each other?

Becky Aguirre said...

@Ellie-good questions! One of the things that threw me off the most was moving too many times and not taking into account how that would affect me, and our family, emotionally and physically. It was a real transition time for a lot of us in Venezuela when the missionaries were getting kicked out of the tribal works and we were trying to regroup, so to speak. We were just plugging along, doing what we thought we were supposed to do and somewhere along the way forgot to take care of ourselves!

And you are right, once you become 'cracked', it's hard to fix...although for me it's been a really good time of growing for me as well as I learn to throw myself on God. Maybe the important thing is not so much whether we're 'cracked' or not as what's the glue we're using to hold ourselves together...God's power in our lives or trying to control the things around us?

Lately, I find myself feeling very aware of the 'cracks' and needing quite a bit more 'God glue' than 'normal' (what's normal anyway?!) to hold things together...I am making an effort to get up before the kids do to read the Bible and pray, even if I don't necessarily feel God's presence, because if I don't, then I seem to be an easy mark for the enemy-which could be another reason that it's a struggle, that we are a bit more of a target because of the nature of our ministry?

Thoughts, anyone else?

Grammy said...

Honest post, thanks, Becky we do need God Glue!! I'm finding so many women on the mission field needing to take medicine....how true that we label things differently to sound more acceptable. I've been clinging to: God won't give me more than I can handle...so far so good

Tim and Susan said...

Thanks for sharing. It IS so hard not to worry, especially when we want to know what will happen and plan for ourselves and family accordingly. Sigh. God has had us in a stage of uncertainty for several months now and it looks to continue for more....sigh. He sure must have a lot to teach us as we are forced to Trust Him.

Susan

Rebecca O said...

HI,I'm Rebecca. Please put me on the blogroll.

www.allthelittledetails.blogspot.com

thanks!

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