It was a wednesday morning on vacation. I got up to run on the beach to clear my head and my heart. The night before, we had lost our son in a sea of people for 8 minutes. For 8 minutes, my world quickly began to cave in all around me as my anxiety flooded my lungs, leaving me gasping for air. As my husband began his way to the stage of this outdoor pavilion to hijack the band microphone, the crowds parted and I saw my sweet boy crying while being led out by a God sent stranger. All at once I felt a surge of gratefulness, sorrow and the intense feeling of needing to vomit. "How could I have let this happen?" and " I am the worst mom" were the string of sentences that were blasting my head and heart with every step we took back to the car. I was consoling my son, while assaulting myself.
Running has been therapy for my anxious heart. However I only started running 6 years ago when some friends and I committed to running a half marathon to raise money for our friend Libby, who had just been diagnosed with cancer. (I had never even run a mile) The Lord knew that race would essentially change my entire life. After all, that was the year that I finally began to deal with my past and sift through some trauma. I needed something that would steer my concentration and let out some steam. After all, when you are running, you really only have the option to concentrate on your breathing and whatever song, sermon, silence you are listening to. And YOU get to choose what you put in your ears, which inevitably will ALWAYS reach down to your heart.
Unfortunately, anxiety is something I battle with on a daily basis. My natural hard wiring coupled with my life's chain of events has bent me towards a daily acknowledgement of what cripples me the most. The Lord and I have done a lot of work in this area. And yet, somehow It can still cripple me in 8 minutes. It seems like this will be something I will forever cling to with my Jesus. Now, it would be weird if a mom were not anxious about her missing child, I know that. But anxiety will take that moment and slam you to your knees in the comforts of your own living room with all of your children playing a board game by your side. Anxiety sets off every trigger in your mind and begins to feed a steady stream of lies to your thoughts all while tightening straps around your heart. It can hit you anywhere, anytime- using any memory, any fear that it chooses. You can try to control it. But then you realize, you have absolutely no control over anything and then crap hits the fan; all hell breaks loose.
So I run. I run and let it out and I talk to the Lord. I listen to truth so that I can combat the lies. As I began my run on wednesday morning, I decided to run the beach. I HIGHLY recommend this. I turned on the "Of Dirt And Grace" Album by Hillsong United and went off. With every step I felt the Lord stripping off layer after layer, chain after chain until I was bare. Exposed by my heavenly father gently telling me that HE is in control. Not me. Not ever. And that is equally terrifying and calming.
As the music played, "Prince of Peace" came on. I listened to the words and felt hot tears stream down my face.
Your love surrounds me when my thoughts wage war
When night screams terror, there Your voice will roar
Come death or shadow, God I know Your light will meet me there
When fear comes knocking, there You'll be my guard
When day breeds trouble, there You'll hold my heart
Come storm or battle, God I know Your peace will meet me there
Again and again
Oh, be still my heart
I know that You are God
Oh, fear no evil
For I know You are here
It seems i'm constantly praying for peace. I'd say these are my loudest and most repetitive words to my Jesus. Peace to not cripple me. Peace to focus. As I began to see this image of Jesus roaring over my fear, surrounding my feeble body, I saw this hunk of a log on the edge of the ocean floor.
On my last lap, I stopped to stare. I watched the waves crash over it as it laid there heavy. And I thought, "Even if I am a log on the sand and can't even manage to climb into the ocean, the waves of God's grace will STILL crash over me." All at once I was overwhelmed at the thought that I do not have to have it all together. Even when anxiety threatens to leave me paralyzed like that log, The Lord will still reach me. He will still hover over me, washing me over with his Love and grace. He meets me where I am at. And friends, I have SEEN it. I have seen it in my dear friend, in her last week on this earth. I have seen it in my deepest wound. I have seen it in my friend who lost a child. I have seen his All encompassing power and His unconditional, unfailing love. I have seen His PEACE that transcends all understanding.
I want the waves to be the first thing you see in me. I want to be honest about the hard stuff. But If there was ever a picture of what I want to be known for and the truth I want to drench my bones with- It would be this image of the waves crashing over the log. Whatever my log looks like for that day- let the waves of God's mercy and control be the thing that others see. Let it be the image I see. Let it be the image I remember when my thoughts wage war. My Jesus who meets me where I'm at. Takes the anxiety and floods me with His peace.