Do you ever need tangible reassurance when anxiety and self-doubt whack you around?
I’ve had the kind of week where I realized nothing was in my control. Maybe you’ve already figured this out, but I still find myself thinking I’m at the helm. It turns out I’m really not.
Nothing earth-shattering was wrong. It was more like low-level frustrations piling up. I chased down a new specialist for one of my children, playing phone tag for days. I could not get a professional I was working with to fulfill an expectation. My traveling husband was gone when I needed to be in three places at once and could have used his help. Christmas wrapping and packaging exploded all over my bedroom. And some of the goals I set for myself post-publishing to market my book were not working out. One of my kids is learning the responsibility of texting and emailing apps for the first time, and her emails went out 70 times to a friend because of a glitch. Yeah, that was just awesome.
Not being able to control other people’s end of an interaction (or computer glitches, LOL) can feel like personal failure some days. But the truth is: It’s not. Some days we wait for a reply, a response, someone to do something we asked them to or paid them for, a problem to come right that we’re working on. It may feel like we’re spinning our wheels on so many things in life. I felt like I could not propel myself forward in any way this past week. Everything I attempted fell flat on its face or blinked at me like a “No Walking” signal that allows traffic to keep moving from all directions but never seems to let me cross. The world seems so slow in those moments, as if the clock is ticking only intermittently, and it can feel like everyone is looking at us waiting for our next move.
When life moved that slowly for me this week and I could not accomplish anything, the temptation was to spin into endless cycles of self-doubt and catastrophic thinking. Know what I mean?
I will never be able to market this book well enough to keep momentum. It will never have reach.
I will never get these packages out on time. I’m a Christmas gifting loser. (What even is that? I don’t know, but it’s what came into my mind.)
My child will not see this specialist in time to present new findings for IEP meeting. They will throw him off the plan altogether, and it will be my fault for not calling this doctor enough to reach him.
I haven’t blogged in seven days because I thought I’d be accomplishing XYZ by now, and now I forget what I was even going to write about. Why do I think I can even keep interest in this going?
I went into the grocery store for only five things and came home completely forgetting two of them. Now I have to go back. Will I ever keep anything in my own head?
I could go on and on, but I’m sure we all know some variety of these ridiculous self-taunts.
And then I came back to my darker, colder days when it wasn’t a week of annoyances and frustrations but more like months of wailing agonies and wondering when and if “normal” would ever return when a child was in crisis.
And I remembered this:
The warm hand of Jesus.
I never knew it was warm until I put down my self pity and endless striving and invited Him to hold it—for more than just a minute. I asked Him to be the warmth in the icy patches of winter in my life. And as soon as I grabbed it—I mean really held it and gave Him my personal inner stirrings to settle and soothe—I felt the warmth first tingle my fingertips and eventually stretch into my hand, working its way up my arm until my heart relaxed and embraced the glow of His love.
It’s a love that—once we start accepting it, believing it, receiving it—melts into everything, softens our perspective, teaches us that He valued us enough to die for us on a cross.
That’s the love of Christmas. That’s the glow flickering from a hay-filled manger stretching out with baby fingertips to reach a darkened world.
But the thing about the warm hand of Jesus is: We don’t really know it until we reach out to grab it. It’s a choice.
I go into scary/intimidating medical procedures with my palm open asking Him to hold it. I enter confrontations asking Him to come along and hold me steady. I take a deep breath and reach for Him to be palm-to-palm with me when I am about to hear news that might scare the life out of me or make me feel inadequate, like so many specialist appointments right now for one of my kids.
His hand is right there ready for those of us who believe and want to touch it. But, it’s never forced. It never grabs. Just like His abiding love, it is an invitation. We can take it or try to go it alone.
“Going it alone” brings me back to striving. Striving brings me back to feelings of inadequacy and failure. To fear. Fear brings me back to self-doubt and thinking somehow I am in control. And thinking I am in control brings me back to striving. It’s a vicious cycle.
But that Baby Savior reaching out to touch the world with those cute little fingers? He later spread those same hands on a cross for me and you and let soldiers hammer holes into them.
In His hands aren’t empty promises. In His hands are life, abiding love, mercy, grace, faithfulness, goodness, kindness, forgiveness, peace, joy, and strength. They are warm and inviting. They have been through anything we have and more.
And they are still open to hold our hands and walk through life with.
Where can you next take His hand into an area of your life? Where is there unknown territory where you need Him to lead?
The icy storms around me (the challenges, the heartaches, the loss) sometimes still loom, but when I grab my Savior’s hand and invite Him into the crisis to walk it with me and take over—to lead—I find that there is warmth and light in the darkest of places. I am not alone. And I am deeply loved.
The best way to battle self-doubt is to ask Jesus to join the conversation. His warmth scatters self lies and condemnation and helps me grab His truth and hold onto it.
What do His hands mean to you?
Isaiah 41:13, Isaiah the Prophet narrating, ESV
For I, the LORD your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, “Fear not, I am the one who helps you.”
Acts 11:21, Luke the Physician speaking, ESV
And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number who believed turned to the Lord.
John 20:24-28, Apostle John narrating, ESV
Now Thomas, one of the Twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came.
So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.”
Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!”
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More anecdotal stories about an everyday relationship with God can be found in Not Just on Sundays: Seeking God’s Purpose in Each New Day (includes Book Club Discussion Questions).