Greg and April – December 2013
Upon deciding that I must stop the emailing portion of my ministry to wives last week, I experienced intense anxiety for a few days – unlike any I have felt in a LONG, LONG time. I so don’t miss that awful, horrible feeling! I used to live with that kind of anxiety every day when I was controlling and had SELF as god on the throne of my heart, trusting myself to make everything turn out “right” as if I were sovereign instead of God. That was a lot of pressure – trying to take on the responsibilities of God, when I am (very obviously) not God!
I have enjoyed living in God’s peace these past 5 years SO MUCH! What a treasure His peace and rest are!
As I realized that I needed to let go of the 100-150 emails per day and the 3-6 hours of emailing per day – I began to panic. I could understand intellectually that spending 40-50 hours per week on ministry at this point was too much – the volume just kept going up and up and up. But I want to keep up with it, no matter how great the volume is. Every single wife matters to me and is very important to me. I don’t want to hurt anyone. I don’t want God’s work and miracles to stop! I want to be faithful to disciple those women God brings to me. So – this has been an excruciating decision. I started thinking things like:
- What if I am making a huge mistake?
- What if these precious sisters of mine feel abandoned?
- I’m letting them down!
- If I don’t minister to them personally in emails, what will happen to them?
- Lord, am I really hearing You correctly?
- Am I being irresponsible? I HATE being irresponsible!!!!
- I’m afraid to let go of all of these women, will they be ok?
- What if they need me?
- Where does my responsibility end and Yours and theirs begin, Lord?
I wrestled spiritually and emotionally for a few days after laying down the email ministry. The anxiety would get pretty intense at times, causing such tightness in my chest. YUCK!!!!! I don’t want to go back to that awful place of anxiety anymore! I probably am grieving a bit, too, I am sure.
THANK YOU, GOD, for delivering me from the bondage of anxiety and worry!!!!!!!
Your anxiety-producing situation is probably different from mine. Maybe you realize you need to cut your hours at work, or tell someone “no” or make your husband a greater priority or begin to trust him more with the children. Whatever the cause of your anxiety, I believe the steps out of spiritually-induced anxiety are going to be pretty much the same no matter what the details of the specific situation.
What did I do? Well, it took me some time to hash through the issues. I may still have more hashing through feelings to do as I get my bearings and wait to hear more direction from God and figure out exactly how to restructure things in the best way. That is ok. When there are big changes, we have emotions. That is not wrong. We just have to work through them and lay them before God and talk about them with people we love and trust. 🙂
1. I got on my knees and turned to Christ
I got out the old passages that I used when I began this journey – Philippians 4:4-8 and slowly, conscientiously walked through each step of
– rejoicing in God for all He has done and for who He is
– giving thanks to God for all the blessings and gifts He has so generously lavished on me and my family and this ministry
– laying my petitions before Him for my husband, myself, our children and all of the women who read my blogs
– focusing on the good things about every aspect of my life
– embracing and receiving the gift of God’s peace, welcoming His peace into my heart
I laid all of the many hundreds of women I am concerned about before Jesus and placed them at His feet – knowing, they are actually His, they are not mine. Then I have to leave them there and not pick them up again. That is something I have definitely learned to do many times in this ministry. I cannot carry the weight of other people myself. Jesus alone can do that. This is all about HIM, not about me. He is ABLE to take care of His daughters and His lambs.
2. I immersed myself in God’s Word
I focused on God’s sovereignty and I looked at many of God’s servants He has used to shepherd His people in the past and the example they left for me.
I know I am going to need a LOT more time with God in prayer, Bible reading and study. That is very clear to me. I cannot crowd out my time with God and be prepared to be the wife God desires me to be or minister to others if I don’t take the amount of time I need to get recharged in Christ myself.
3. I focused on thanksgiving and praise and God’s truth
I sang praise songs to God. Loudly. At the top of my voice. I worshipped God. I humbled myself before Him. I thanked Him for all He has done, all He is doing and all that He has in store. I rested in His love, protection, leadership and wisdom and in Greg’s love, protection, leadership and wisdom.
4. I looked at my hidden motives and expectations
This was REALLY key!
What did I expect of myself and why? I had to write all of that down. I do better if I write things down – then I can see more clearly and tease out all the little hidden ideas, thoughts and sin that may be infiltrating my thoughts. When I feel anxious, I know that there is sin in my heart of some type. Usually, I have some kind of unbiblical expectations or I am trusting self more than God about something.
Some things I wrote down and contemplated:
- Do I think people need ME more than they need Christ? I have to guard against that like the plague!!!!!! There is NO ROOM for any of my pride to rise up and contaminate my soul here.
- I am not the key. Jesus is the key. God’s Word is the key. Jesus must greatly increase and I must greatly decrease.
- God is sovereign. These are His women. He can use me to bless them, yes. But ultimately, they are His, not mine.
- I am not the Holy Spirit. God may speak through me to people, but it is His Spirit that opens people’s eyes. I cannot do that.
- Am I trusting SELF more than God here? What a dangerous place to be! I have got to be sure my trust is only in Christ alone!
- God is able to speak to people without me! I have to remember that this is all about Him, not about me. I am not indispensable. God is. I was so amazed, last Friday, the day I announced I wouldn’t be able to do the emailing part of my ministry anymore, God gave me such a gift! He allowed me to see a dear friend for whom I have been praying for a LONG, LONG time. She was completely regenerated by the power of God’s Spirit. I had not spoken a word to her in weeks. But God convicted her of her sin, brought her to complete repentance and brokenness and was speaking to her clearly every day for the past few weeks. She was listening and obeying Him fully – without any input from me at all. 🙂 WOW! What an amazing God we serve! He really doesn’t need my “help!” 🙂
- Greg has been asking me to cut back on emailing. God leads me through Greg. I want to cooperate with him. He told me that he and the children are going to enjoy having more of my attention. I have to keep my priorities straight!!!
- My anxiety about letting this thing go shows that there is probably sin in my heart. I’m so thankful for the opportunity to examine all of this.
- I had a couple of rough days, and a lot of tears. But I know that I have to hold all of these things loosely. I don’t need to have control here. God does. If I am not in control and am not personally emailing every wife, God is still so powerful, so sovereign, so loving and so good that He is still able to minister to each of these women personally. He DOES talk to each of us individually. And, He can raise up more godly mentoring wives to meet the needs. He is also able to give me wisdom and to pour His Spirit through me and through other wives to accomplish His purposes in whatever ways He sees fit through the blog posts and comments.
- The worst times for me were when I was sitting doing “nothing.” I tend to feel like I need to do something “productive.” I am pretty horrible at relaxing. And I am awful at moderation and balance. I am wonderful at doing something 110% or not at all. Balance just gets so tricky! But, God blessed me with some very sweet times of intimacy with Greg and some real rest. I have not been sleeping well for a LONG, LONG time. Usually, I only sleep from 12:00am-ish until about 5:00am almost every night. So, a lot of times, I work on the blog way before anyone gets up – and while Greg is at work and our children are at school. Then I would often work on emails after the kids were in bed and I would sit beside Greg in bed. But – I NEED times when I am doing nothing. I don’t like it at first. But I need some down time. It was wonderful to go for a walk at the River Walk with Greg on Friday afternoon, then he took me out to eat at an Italian restaurant. We had a relaxing bath and lots of time to talk and intimacy. It was so beautiful to just slow down and enjoy my husband. I have been enjoying him. But – not as much as I need to. I see that I NEED this. God will show me the way.
- Greg is VERY low maintenance. But – are there ways I can be more available to him that would greatly bless him that I am missing sometimes? We need those times of just relaxing together and joking and talking and even times of not talking but just being together where I am completely available to him.
- What are my expectations of myself? Are they biblical? Are they from God? Where do they come from? Are there some expectations that I have that are not healthy that I need to drop? These are questions I need to ask any time I find myself getting anxious or overwhelmed. I think we will have to do this kind of “spring cleaning” in our souls on regular intervals, just laying everything bare before God and allowing Him to show us what needs to go.
- Where is my security? Am I finding any of it in ministry instead of in Christ alone?
- Where is my identity? Am I finding it in ministry instead of just in Jesus?
- Am I willing to live in obscurity if that is God’s will?
- Am I willing to give up anything that God ever asks me to give up? I want to be able to say, “Yes!” anytime God calls me to give up or start anything.
- Am I seeking affirmation or the approval or attention of others?
- God is still allowing me to do the blogs. I am so excited about that! I can still minister to women and bless them and be available to them. But I need to balance things in a more godly and healthy way. I cannot continue to spend 40-50 hours/week on ministry. My goal is to spend about 20 hours/week now.
I was walking through Wal-Mart this morning – and it hit me:
I think some of the biggest causes of my anxiety would be that I want do much to please and obey God. I don’t want to fail Him. I know His commands to go and disciple all nations and for the older wives to teach the younger. I want to obey Him and please Him so very much!
That is not really a “bad” reason for anxiety. For me to long to please my Lord. How it grieves my heart to imagine failing Jesus!!!!!! 🙁 I almost started to cry in Wal-Mart just thinking of that!
I am so acutely aware of just how much work is left to do in this world! I don’t want to stop working for even a moment. I don’t want to let any opportunities slip by that I don’t take advantage of. But – I can lay this down and trust Him to give me the wisdom, power and strength to do all that He calls me to do. That has to be my focus.
5. I will continue to be still and listen to God
He spoke to me through some David Platt sermons, through our Sunday School lesson on Sunday, through the pastor’s sermon, through Greg and through His Word and many of the wives here on my blog.
I don’t like changes and transitions! But I want to be flexible and able to hear God and respond in obedience to Him when He calls me to do something new. I will continue to seek Him with all my heart and to strive to hear His voice. I will continue to seek to be filled with His Spirit and pray that He might pour out His Spirit through me to speak to many women’s hearts for His glory.
- This has been humbling.
- I have had to let go of some control.
- I have had to acknowledge my limitations.
- I have had to see sin in my heart and am so thankful for the opportunity to shovel it out and repent of it.
- I have found peace in finding shelter in God’s wings and also in finding protection and cover under my husband’s authority and leadership.
I am so thankful for God’s familiar and calming peace flooding my soul again. THANK YOU, GOD!!!!!!!!
I still have MUCH to learn!!! I can’t wait to see all that God has to share with me and with us.
Thank you for being on this journey with me! I appreciate your friendship, love, support, encouragement, prayers, updates, stories, questions and sisterhood.
What causes you anxiety in your life?
How do you deal with anxiety?
How has God healed you?
You are always welcome to share updates, stories, questions, concerns, prayer requests and what you are learning! Thank you for this incredible community of women – for the love, concern, compassion and encouragement you give to each other.
If you would like to share what God has been doing in your life as a post, you are welcome to share your story with me, and I may be able to use it as a post to bless many other wives, as well.
Much love to each of you! 🙂