“For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord. They are plans for good and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11
This biblical quote has been given to me twice this week. First, it was part of the readings in church this past Sunday. Yesterday, another member of the Christian Mompreneur Network, quoted it to me after I posted a prayer request on their Facebook page. I don’t really need a third to tell me He’s trying to get my attention, that I need to learn how to trust that He is a loving God and Father. To trust, period.
Ironically, today’s post in my Al-Anon daily reader, Courage to Change, traveled along the same theme: “‘Let Go and Let God’ teaches us to release problems that trouble and confuse us because we are not able to solve them by ourselves.” But maybe it’s not so ironic. Because this is exactly what I need to keep hearing right now. That I am loved. That I have not been abandoned.
I am a chronic worrier. And only He knows how many years I’ve probably sheared off of my life by doing so. You’d think after years of stressing and worrying–and all of the myriad stress-related conditions that I’ve developed from it: Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Acid Reflux, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Chronic Epstein-Barr, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder–that I would have gotten the memo decades ago. Granted, many of these maladies are also a result of a poor diet growing up. Mom has ever been the queen of packaged, processed junk food. But it is the combination of the two that really sets it all off. And, of course, it is a vicious cycle. The poorer the diet, the more stress on the body, and, what do many of us do when we’re stressed? We reach for the junk food.
Why do I worry so much? Because I am a control freak. Growing up, scary things were always happening in my home. Having a cold beer or two, or a glass of wine isn’t inherently bad, and I’m not a tee-totaler. However, the step-father kept going until he was raging drunk. From the age of 5 and up, he skulked about looking for any opportunity to get me alone so he could do things that were frightening and painful. We had pictures hung in odd places from a fist or a foot colliding with the wall. And, on more than one occasion, the police were at our door. I know that I have a choice now. And I choose to live without such a scary environment. Albeit, I do so by somewhat isolating myself from friendships, both new and old; I seem to have forgotten how to make those needed connections. But the scars run deep. And I am perpetually driven to find some worth in myself.
Actually, I’ve gotten better with the self-esteem thing. Around 12 years of age, the skulking thing stopped. For the most part. Albeit I still slept with a pocket knife under my pillow…just in case. The drinking raged on. And we all heard almost daily how stupid we were; how we couldn’t do anything right, etc. All of the little jabs that pepper an alcoholic’s speech. Yes, I understand it is a disease. And this is the disease talking. But, growing up hearing it, you start to believe. It didn’t matter that I was a straight-A student, that my name was often on the honor roll. I was also perpetually laughed at and picked on in school. And my first “crush” in high school? When he found out I liked him, told me he wouldn’t go out with anyone as ugly as me if I was the last girl on earth. By that point, I already believed myself “damaged goods”. I’m divorced twice. In more immediate times, I’ve had family members bad-mouthing me behind my back. I’ve allowed myself to be taken advantage of. People close to me do not follow through with things they’ve committed to–and I don’t always hold them accountable. And, most recently, I’ve lost a lifelong and close family member because I wouldn’t shut my doors and my heart to other family members with whom she was feuding. So, yes, the self-worth thing has been a long road to travel to a healthier self-image.
To be honest, today I am quite comfortable in my own skin. I’m too old to be a candidate for Miss Universe but I am confident I wouldn’t qualify as a blooper either. I don’t write any of this to be wearing my heart on my sleeve but merely to explain where some of this journey started, why trust is such an issue with me.
The biggest thing I have struggled with throughout all of my life is the belief that He is a loving God. Or, more appropriately, a loving Father. The condensed explanation of my life is that my biological father has never wanted anything to do with me, and my step-father wanted too much to do with me, so the concept of a loving Father in heaven has been tough to wrap my mind around. For other victims of abuse, this is quite common (I’ve had 20+ years of therapy). And, where I start to wane, is in the “waiting on the Lord”. I tend to be impatient. I know the best things in life are worth waiting for but the waiting makes me anxious. And I’m apt to sabotage my own efforts if the waiting goes on too long.
This is happening in my life now.
I left work on a Friday in 2008 with 30K in a 401K account to plunk down as a down-payment on a property in Maine. This is when the crash happened. I came back on Monday with only 3K available for that down-payment. I let it go. A year later, I was laid off from the corporate position. Though I would miss many of the friends I’d made in that position, I cheered as I drove out of the parking lot. The last few years there, I’d driven into work raging and miserable. It wasn’t what I wanted to do. As I began the long, arduous journey of unemployment, never suspecting how long and arduous it would be, I turned my focus back on my current property, determined to create a small homestead here. And it definitely has potential but I’m looking to spread my wings and fly; I’ve kept them clipped for way too long now. However, as the world spreads out before me, my lack of trust that He will provide, that everything will work out in better ways than I could ever imagine (i.e. step out in faith), keeps me worrying that when I finally do spread those wings, I’m liable to go splat on the pavement.
Family members and close friends parrot predestination platitudes about things being “meant to be”. While I believe in predestination in some areas, such as death and taxes, falling back on these platitudes keeps one perpetually in a victim mentality. Yes, “Let Go and Let God” but haven’t we all heard that He helps those who help themselves? That means we cannot have a lukewarm faith; we have to have an active faith. And I have to step out in that faith, flapping those wings like ain’t nobody’s business, trusting that I will be airborne, rather than a half-hearted rustling of those feathers that will surely result in that splat I live in fear of. Fear is the opposite of faith. And it keeps me grounded…and not in a good way.
As for wrapping my mind around the concept of a loving Father in heaven? While I may not have an earthly image to compare it to, the scared and scarred little girl often dreamed of what a loving father might look like. While he may have worn the faces of Pa Ingalls, John Walton Sr. or Mike Brady, I believe my Father in heaven is equal to all of these images…and more. My personal God will never leave me. My personal God will not abandon me.
It’s time to fly…
May God bless you & keep you!
“Worry is like a rocking chair. It gives you something to do, but it doesn’t get you anywhere.” – Anonymous