Letting Go: It's Not Easy
Melanie Lane and her husband, Noah are 32 year olds en route to Mexico as Career Missionaries. They currently live in New Jersey as they await the finalizations of their children’s adoptions. You can find Mel blogging about foster care, drinking coffee that resembles mud, and posting too many stories on Instagram about her kids. Connect with the Lanes at www.loslanes.com.
“Do not be anxious about anything.”
That’s a joke, right? Even if you’re not your classic Worrying Wanda (is that a thing?), you have come across feelings of anxiety and stress and have succumbed to worrying about one thing or another.
About two years ago, as we began our missions journey and it was muddled with the unknown future of our daughter, this verse popped into my head. Having grown up in a solid, Christian home, it was a verse commonly quoted and memorized. It goes like this:
“Do not be anxious about anything. Instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for what He has done. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” Phil. 4:6-7
All of the sudden, something clicked. These sentences came alive and real in my world. And then something else caught my eye… it was the verses right before.
“Always be joyful. I say it again, rejoice! Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. And remember, the Lord is coming back soon”. Phil. 4:4-5
This is where the rubber really met the road for me. Before Paul even commands us to not be anxious, he needed to set some ground rules.
I think our culture has unknowingly put worry/anxiety on some sort of pedestal. At least I know I have. We have been shaped to think that if we care about something, then worry must follow. But Paul is painting a pretty clear picture of how we are to treat our anxieties, and it starts with JOY.
I remember one Sunday morning, after speaking at a church service, a sweet person came up to me afterwards and said (somewhat frantically): “Aren’t you nervous and scared? What about your kids? Isn’t it dangerous to raise them where you’re going?” I immediately felt this pressure to validate their concern with my own furrowed brow and words of worry. But it felt so wrong. I DID recognize the risk, but I also recognized that this went against everything Jesus had preached. My acknowledgement and acceptance of the cost may come across as carelessness to some, but please be assured if this truth: To have a joyful demeanor in the midst of concern is the foundation of faith. Joy releases you from stress; it releases you from carrying the weight of life on your own two shoulders. Joy creates room for Jesus to take that load and take control.
Paul moves on from joy and encourages us to “Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. And remember, the Lord is coming back soon.”
What do these sentences have in common? Perspective. Keeping these sentences at the forefront of my mind as I pray has changed the way I look at everything. Being considerate in all I do means that I choose to value love and kindness when God asks me to trust Him in ways that don’t make sense. It means I don’t take out my frustrated control issues on the guy next door. We live in a world that is in constant chaos, and the Bible is pretty clear that it’s not going to get any better. We need to remember Jesus words: “Tomorrow has enough worry of its own.” So many of the things we stress over are in the future, and quite frankly, Jesus could come back before any of them come to pass.
We can’t let our grip on “culturally accepted worry” interfere with how God is calling us to joyfully trust Him.
Letting go of anxiety and worry is a long and hard life-long journey that we will all go through together. Every stage of life warrants different temptations for stress, but we have to constantly fight the urge to give in.
His grace is sufficient for today. THAT’S the promise He makes.
So letting go? We’ve got to let go of tomorrow. Of the fear that comes with the unknown. Of the anxieties we place on pedestals to show the world we care. The world needs to see people that are able to trust the problems of life to an all-powerful God. They need to see people who aren’t afraid to love big and dangerously. They need to see people who can daily release their worries of tomorrow to the only One who can do anything about them today.