The Victory

by Rhonda, September 06, 2022

I awoke on a Friday night with a start.  It was 2 a.m., and my mind was racing.  The anxiety was back, and it came for me with a vengeance.  I felt like I couldn't breathe, like knives were being slid between my shoulder blades.  I panicked over a difficult work situation.  I pondered everything I've ever been angry about in my twenty years of marriage, which ended in divorce.  I wondered if my kids would ever be self sufficient.  I felt sick inside, and I just wanted to curl up and disappear. 

I gasped for air.  I begged God to help me.  "Please calm it down," I prayed.  "As your child, I am an heir to your peace.  Help me find it."

That must be a big difference between heaven and earth, don't you think?  In heaven peace will just exist as part of our being.  But on earth, we have to continually pursue it.

I fought it for several hours before falling back asleep.  Soon, the alarm was going off, and I needed to get up and move.  I was hosting a party (a typical trigger for me), and I needed to start cooking and get to decorating.  I didn't have time to do some of my typical coping activities.  Or, at least that's what I told myself.

As I was getting ready for the day, my daughter came into my bedroom and made an off-hand comment that didn't sit well.  So, we argued.  But, let me tell you, when the guests came to the door, we smiled and you would have thought you were entering the House of Peace.  Isn't it funny how we can be nice to guests but argue with one another behind closed doors!  

We got through a very nice party, and everyone had a good time.  Once everyone left the kids and I decided to attend Saturday night church services.  I really, really didn't feel like attending.  I was worn out.  But, it was the only time this weekend the three of us could attend together.  So, I did my best to ignore my feelings and get ready for church.  

My anxiety was still in full-force.  My daughter was still moody from the argument before, so we picked up where we left off on the drive into church.  We argued all of the way into church, but once again, when we got there, we were all smiles.  Thinking about it now makes me laugh so hard.  But, at the time, I was fuming mad and so was she.  I honestly don't even remember what we were arguing about, but I'm sure it was stupid.

As worship began, and church progressed, I finally began to get some relief.  Church always helps me.  I don't know why I think I have to do God a favor and attend church.  The blessing is mine.  Halfway through the service, my daughter slid her arm around my shoulder.  "I'm sorry," she whispered in my ear.  I squeezed her hand, and my mind was flooded with much-needed relief.  I felt so guilty, and so stupid, for allowing myself to let my temper get out of hand.  When my anxiety is hyped up, one of the hardest things for me is when I allow myself to take it out on others.

I asked God for forgiveness.  I asked my daughter for forgiveness.

The Lord immediately reminded me of a quote I'd written in my journal.

"The devil's cause is never more in danger then when we no longer desiring, but still intending to do God's will, look round upon a universe from which every trace of God seems to have vanished, and asks why he has been forsaken, and still obeys."  C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters

God saw my day as a victory!  Isn't that the craziest thing?  I battled anxiety, yet still had a nice family party.  I argued with my daughter, yet I still went to church.  I didn't accomplish my day without sins, no, that's for certain.  Yet, He saw my heart.  He saw how hard it was for me, and He saw that I didn't give up and did my best to remain faithful.  God's perspective is so refreshing.  At my worst, He sees the good.

It reminds me of Paul's musings in Romans:

Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean He no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? ... No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. (Romans 8:35)

Even my anxiety, at its absolute worst, can never separate me from the love of Christ.  It will try to convince me otherwise, but I have the truth sitting in the text in front of me.  And, the truth clearly states nothing can separate me from Christ's love.

I'm not sure how a day of such struggle could end in victory, but it did.  When God reminded me of how He sees me, I was able to have an evening of peace instead of a pity party soaked in guilt.  His ways are certainly not our ways, and His thoughts are definitely not our thoughts.  

For that, I am grateful.

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