This has been quite a week! I’ve encountered so many situations where my blood felt a degree away from boiling. Let this sink in: as a nation, we are dealing with a global pandemic, wildfires, hurricanes, virtual school, racial unrest, and election season all at once. For a highly-sensitive person like me, I feel like I’m on the verge of screaming or tears at all times. It’s exhausting.
I’m trying to navigate this tension between giving it all to God and also being an informed, responsible citizen. Let me tell you, I’m not doing well with this.
Here’s a story. Last weekend, I baked a pie for our new neighbors. We walked it over to their house, but they weren’t home. Later that evening when we ate our pie, (I made two because I’m not a monster) we realized I forgot sugar. Obviously, I couldn’t give my new neighbors such a gross pie, so I woke up the next morning and baked another. On our way over to their house with the pie, my puppy bumped his nose into the dish and it flew out of my hands. And that’s when I lost it. I picked up the pie that had toppled and I chucked at at the ground. The pie plate rolled into the street and my kids looked really scared. My oldest said, “Mommy’s losing it.” She wasn’t wrong.
That situation wasn’t really about a pie. It’s the stress of all the stuff going on around me. I feel like my shoulders are always tense and there’s this weird feeling in the pit of my stomach. I looked it up and it’s science. The “pit of your stomach” is an area in the core of you abdomen, approximately in or near the stomach, in which one feels a physical response to strong emotion, especially fear, stress, or anxiety. Yep. That pretty much sums up what’s going on.
A verse that kept coming to mind (one I always find comfort in) is Philippians 4:8.
“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things.”
I’ve written about this verse before, but it’s one that should be revisited from time to time. It’s the antidote to that “pit in the stomach” feeling. Paul wrote his letter to the Philippians from prison, so he had plenty of stressors. Certainly more than me. And he didn’t burry his head in the sand either. But, through it all, he was content because he was dependent on Jesus.
He starts the closing of the letter this way, “Finally…” After all the things I’ve talked about (i.e. I know you’re being persecuted. I know there are squabbles within the church. I know you’re dealing with self-righteous Christians that are making it hard for you to spread the word of Jesus.) “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable —if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”
When I’m all tied up in knots about the election, I miss the fact that my littlest is making strides on learning to read. If I’m just annoyed by virtual school, I might forget that my daughter, who is 12, tried a new sport this fall and that takes courage. I might forget to notice that my husband works incredibly hard each and every day to support us and make it known he loves us. As I’m sitting here writing this, my son and my niece are working on schoolwork together. Every once in a while, I hear one of them giggle with joy. That’s lovely. These are the things I need to dwell on. These are the things I should think about.
If Paul (who was awaiting a possible execution sentence) could revel in these true, admirable, praiseworthy things. Why can’t I?
When I feel myself getting tense and upset, I’m going to say this verse to myself. I’m going to remind myself that in every circumstance, it’s depending on Jesus that strengthens me. And if I can do that, I’ll see those noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy things. In fact, they should be very clear.