My husband and I fell onto the couch. Our three kids were finally in bed after an unusually busy day. We still had lunches to make and dishes to clean, but we needed a moment to catch up.
“I have to tell you something,” he began. And then he said five words that cut through everything else: “I got laid off today.”
This isn’t true. It can’t be true. It can’t be.
“Are you serious?” I asked.
Initially, we both looked at the positives of the situation. He had been wanting to make a career change, and now he was free to do so.
But as the weeks turned into months of job searching, my suppressed fear of our uncertain future began to show up outwardly in anxiety attacks.
And I hated those moments because I thought I was made of stronger stuff.
I had a close relationship with God. He carried me through challenging and painful seasons at a young age. I’d even had opportunities to mentor other women through their own challenging seasons. So, when anxiety welled up in me, I wondered how strong my faith really was.
I thought I should have been able to handle the uncertainty of our situation and withstand it with inward and outward peace. But I constantly felt a low-level sense of fear, and anxiety would rip through me at unexpected times. I was a mess.
I prayed regularly. But I felt like there was a barrier, like I was holding something back.
That’s silly, I thought. Why am I not telling God stuff that he already knows?
It felt like a struggle to be completely honest.
When I finally opened up about my deepest fears, God put a spotlight on that part of me that was ashamed of feeling fearful and anxious. It was as if he was saying, That shame is not from me. I don’t expect you to carry all of this.
God wanted me so close that I was willing to give all my fears to him, trusting fully in his great love for me; holding nothing back from him.
The apostle Peter says as much when he exhorts believers in Christ to “cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you,” (1 Peter 5:7).
I had inadvertently taken on a responsibility that I was never meant to carry. Instead of opening my hands to God and releasing my fears and worries to him, I had actually closed my hands around my anxiety. I was relying upon myself to muster peace instead of relying on God to give me peace.
No wonder anxiety would well up in uncontrollable ways! I was storing it up rather than giving it away.
It’s fitting, then, that right before Peter encourages us to cast all our anxiety on the Lord, he tells us to “humble [our]selves… under God’s mighty hand,” (1 Peter 5:6). Trusting God with our anxieties takes humility. It takes viewing ourselves as less powerful than we think we are and viewing God as more capable than we imagine he is.
When I hold anxiety back from God, I only prove my stubborn self-reliance. I close my hands, and I say, “I’ve got this, God.”
But when I cast my anxieties on him, I open my hands freely and say, “I need You, Lord.”
I still have bouts of anxiety. But now I don’t feel this weird guilt-laden burden to manage it. I know I can give it to God.
God longs for us to run to him with all of our fears and failures because he loves us.
As we begin this new year, let’s go to him eagerly in prayer as we learn all the more to trust him with our fears, anxieties, and all our cares.
He is more than capable of handling it all.