When I was in high school I used to struggle with pretty bad anxiety. It stemmed mostly from this club I was in but, dang, was it crippling sometimes. (I think the lack of Jesus in my life definitely made it worse) One day, right before an AP test, my normal anxiety just disappeared. I recognize now that that was a crazy grace by God but it was so strange to me that this thing that I couldn’t control just poofed out of my life. I thought it was gone for good but God has recently been revealing the little ways in which I still struggle with it and has called me out in how it affects my faith.
See, I have this fear of disappointing people, of messing up someone else’s plan. Two examples of this would have been 1) in Iceland when I was in charge of getting two different AirBnbs but I realized on the day we were supposed to check in that I scheduled them for the wrong week in March. It was like suddenly I ruined the whole trip for everyone and I got so stuck in my head that my friend had to be the one to find a new place. The second time God called me out in this was yesterday. My friends from camp are coming to visit me and I honestly couldn’t be more excited! I messed up the dates in my mind and one of my friends (who is a seminarian so he can’t just sleep anywhere) came a day earlier than planned and I didn’t know what to do. My mind was immediately taken over by anxiety and the first lie I heard in my brain that haunted me even until after I dropped him off was – you ruined his whole trip.It was kind of a hard realization about myself to accept but when I brought it to Jesus He opened my eyes to all the different ways I have slowly let this one source of anxiety to creep into my faith. First and foremost – this fear of disappointing someone is tragically present in my relationship with the Father. I see it now in my guilt of not praying enough or fulfilling my promises to Him like I so desire to. I see it when I feel like I’m not good enough for God’s mercy or when I sit in silent adoration but my mind won’t stop moving with all the things I need to do.
So, I asked God to help me find the root of it. LOL, I thought it was going to be this deep insecurity in my heart that I didn’t know about or some obscure thing that I needed to work on, but God showed me two days ago that it’s actually pretty simple and something I feel like most of you struggle with in some ways… I can’t let go of the reigns in my life. A priest the other day was telling us about the woman in Matthew 14 who poured a jar of perfumes that cost over a year’s wage onto Jesus’ head in preparation for His burial. The priest was explaining that in this time this jar of nard was this woman’s whole future. It was what she presented to the man she planned to marry as a representation of her wealth and without it she lost every chance of a secure future.
On that night Jesus asked me if I was willing to break the jar… and I didn’t know if I could say yes.
I’d always thought I was such a go with the flow kind of person who was ready to trust in God’s crazy plan for me but this week made me realize that I’m still scared of putting my future in God’s plan – not because I doubt His goodness but because in my heart there is doubt of Him. In some ways, I desire to have a backup plan just in case this whole faith thing doesn’t work out. Honestly, guys, I didn’t even know that this was in my heart until I started writing it for you right now. It is kind of scary to admit but I do it because I think that in some ways all of us can relate to it.
God is calling us to trust in Him completely – to know that He is real and that He desires to give us a future greater than we can every image. We just have to be willing to break the jar. Ask God to show you the aspects of your life that you are still trying to hold onto. Trust me when I say this anxiety I experience is because I, as a broken human, was never meant to have control of my life. I can’t control anything about my future and I can’t control when I mess up or if I disappoint something but if there is one thing I can be confident in is the never-ending love my Father wishes to give me if only I am open to it.
Pray to the woman who broke the jar at the feet of Jesus and gave her whole future in service of Him (I like to think along with many biblical scholars that she is actually Mary Magdalene) and ask her to help you do it. Ask her to intercede for you as someone who has gone before us as a perfect example of serving and trusting out God with everything she had. This is something we can’t just poof away in our lives but with the grace of God, we are called to work on every day.