Five months, almost to the day, after finding out I had cancer, I found out I didn’t anymore. During that five months, I went through some of the most intense times of soul-searching and emotional baring of myself that I have ever experienced. I leaned on and trusted in God in a way that I had never done before. There was a peace to it, almost supernatural, a knowledge that this was of God, and in his hands, and it would be all right, no matter what happened. I knew it was for God’s glory. I didn’t just read the Bible – verses came alive with meaning. When Isaiah 41:13 said “I, the Lord your God hold your right hand and say to you ‘Don’t be afraid; I will help you’ ‘” – that meant to me that God was holding my hand and I didn’t need to be afraid. And I wasn’t. When it came down to life and death, I was able to lie peacefully in the arms of God and rest.
But when it comes to just life – normal, everyday life, eh- not so much. I still want to control what’s happening. I still worry about what people think about me. I still tend to play out worst case scenarios in my head. I was taking a personality quiz once not too long ago, and it asked if I had a vivid imagination. I realized that yes, I do, but only toward the negative. I imagine the car crash, the heart attack, the mugging, the plane going down. I imagine the things “they” are thinking about me, about how I look, or talk, or dress. I imagine failing.
Today I realized that I have been spending a lot of time, without really being aware of it, stressing over a situation that hasn’t happened yet. Running scenarios in my head. Making myself miserable over what other people might do or say. Giving myself headaches while those other people are going happily through their days. What I haven’t been doing is resting in the arms of God. What I haven’t been doing is trusting that “Don’t be afraid, I will help you” means more than just for cancer. What I haven’t been doing is looking for how God can be glorified in these less dramatic situations. Instead of “what will people think of me”, looking for opportunities to say “how can I shine the love of Jesus here?”
A very wise person (named Sam) told me that when he had a similar problem of ruminating on a negative situation, he made a choice to say to himself “Stop. I don’t want to keep thinking this. This isn’t the person I want to be.” and then to pray for the person that he was stressing over. What a great idea. To take the negative thought pattern and turn it into a cue to pray.
Earlier today I was praying and talking to God about some of the things that really seem to be hard for me to let go of. I told him that I want to give this to him and leave it there, very badly, but I didn’t know how to get it out of my mind, to stop thinking about it. As I prayed, words came into my head so clearly – “Fill your mind with something else – with Truth”. Verses that applied to the situation started coming to mind, and I felt myself calming down. My breathing slowed down (I didn’t realize it wasn’t calm until then) and I started to feel so peaceful.
Filling my mind with the truth of God’s word is the way to overcome the craziness of my own thoughts, and let go of my need for control. If I can trust him with my cancer, I can trust him with the rest of my day-to-day life.
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD. Isaiah 55:8
Don’t be like the people of this world, but let God change the way you think. Then you will know how to do everything that is good and pleasing to him. Romans 12:2