Anyone else’s stomach in knots lately?
Between our upcoming move, writing deadlines, parenting dilemmas, daily life, and grieving unthinkable headlines, I feel like my head is below water and I’m still expected to breathe. Perhaps you can relate?
In my head, I know. I know that God is sovereign and God is good; I know that He has given me everything I need for every moment. I know that as I’m struggling to love my kids well, He is parenting me and will not leave me alone in the struggle. I know that He is our only hope in the face of evil—that tragedy forces us to look our own mortality straight in the face and be reminded once again of our true eternal Home.
I know these things, and yet the knots keep coming back.
I have a chronic case of crossing over from belief to unbelief. One moment I am standing firmly on the truth of, “I trust you, Lord. You are only and always good, even when circumstances are not.” The next moment, I’m jumping into the deep waters of unbelief and drowning in the lies of “Your plan is not good and You will not give me what I need. It’s all up to me.” I begin to spin plates and of course, I can’t spin them all at once, especially when I’m fighting to keep my head above water. I can’t keep my children content and I can’t prevent mass shootings and I can’t manufacture a happy, peaceful home at all times and I can’t remember all the doctor’s appointments and I can’t prepare my kids for every hardship they will potentially face in a cross-country move. My stomach tightens, my breathing quickens, my voice raises.
Can you feel it? Those moments when you know you have a choice…when the heat of life is turned up and God says, “Will you trust me, or will you take matters into your own hands—either by controlling with your own efforts, or drowning in despair?” When we say no to trust, we cross over into unsteady waters in which we were never meant to swim. The knots tighten. We feel afraid and alone. We frantically tread water, our strength zapped with every flailing stroke. We say awful things. We see no way out. But when we choose to trust Him—when we choose belief—our circumstances don’t necessarily get easier, but our perspective shifts. Our eyes are on Him as the One who holds all things together, and we breathe easier. We stay calmer. We hopefully dismiss those words in our heads that, if spoken, will leave us in a sea of regret.
Every single time I cross over to unbelief and take matters in my own hands, the plates eventually come crashing down. As I swim amongst the broken shards of my own resources, my own strength, I whisper, “Jesus, forgive me. I’ve crossed over again. Lead me back to belief. I do believe; help my unbelief.” He takes my hand and together, we head back to firm ground.
How thankful I am that He does not tire of me.
Can I make a few suggestions? First of all, pay attention to warning signs of unbelief in your own life. Does your heart rate quicken? Does your stomach tighten? Do things spin in your head and eventually come out of your mouth that you know are harsh or not true? Do you feel like it’s all up to you? Pay attention to these warning bells so you can repent and head back to belief. Secondly, make sure you have people in your life who are able to discern when you’re headed to the choppy waters of unbelief. Give them permission to name unbelief for you when you can’t see it for yourself, and to lovingly lead you back to the stable ground of truth. We all need friends like this.
Belief is a moment-by-moment choice to rest in the Father’s love and provision, and no tragedy or teen meltdown or family dinner-gone-wrong can negate our ability to choose to believe Him, to take Him at His word. And when you cross over to unbelief and need rescuing again? He’ll gently pull you back to safety, and His eyes will be kind.