I used to be scared all the time, which meant I was brave most of the time.
I was brave when I stepped outside my home. I was brave when I met the eye of a grocery store cashier. I was brave when I allowed my kids to climb up a ladder and slip down a slide. Every moment that I fought my panic, I was brave.
I developed a postpartum anxiety disorder after the birth of my second child. The anxiety seized my heart for four long years before the Lord in His mercy lifted it from me. My memories of those years are laced with my constant struggle to be brave. I prayed, I tried, I succeeded and I failed. And I learned.
“Turn from evil and do good. Seek peace and pursue it.” (Psalm 34:14)
First, I learned that being organized actually lessened my anxiety. Without direction, I wandered around in worry, attempting to prevent each possible calamity. I soon realized that I had to be thoughtful and intentional about my life — not just to turn from evil but to do good. I planned out my days and then I gave each of them over to God, bravely loosening my grip.
I also learned that I could fight the fear. Peace was not something I was going to sit around and wait for! Part of being brave was to seek peace and pursue it. I paid close attention to my thoughts and feelings, searching for those things that were causing me anxiety. Then I bravely went to battle.
When I started to panic about things that weren’t even happening, I’d think, No. I trust in God. When I felt helplessly rushed, I’d think, Wait, what’s my hurry? And when I felt that my anxiety kept me from measuring up to others’ expectations (or even my own), I’d think, Who says I have to do that? Does God?
When I left my clinical anxiety behind, I realized that a more pedestrian anxiety lives within all of us. We worry that we’re not being the parents or spouses or children of God we should be. We feel rushed, like we don’t have the time to get to the things that matter. We secretly feel certain that we don’t measure up. But God doesn’t want those fears to clutter our hearts. He wants us to be brave.
What fears and anxieties are cluttering up your spirit? Over the next few days, listen to your repetitive negative thoughts. Some of those thoughts will be useful, prompting you do get organized and do good. Some of those thoughts will be useless and hurtful, and you’ll need to pursue peace by deciding to surrender them to God.
Paul says that we’re to demolish all arguments that aren’t of God, to take captive our thoughts and make them obedient to Christ (II Corinthians 10:5). Demolish. Take captive. How very brave we are called to be when it comes to our own spirits! And how the Lord helps us through the fight.
Organizing You: Finding Your Spiritual Clutter and Using Organization to Clear it Out and Building Your House: A Faithful Mom’s Guide to Organizing Home and Family. You can learn more about Shannon and her ministry at OrganizingJesusMoms.com.