When I was a kid, I used to be terrified the night before school started. So much, that I couldn’t sleep. So much that one year, my little sister and I decided to get out of bed and do jumping jacks–just to make us tired enough to sleep. (Of course we got in big trouble when my parents heard “thumping” coming from our second story bedroom. And soon, we were back to laying in our beds, just staring into the darkness, and praying for the apocalypse to come before morning.)
I’m no longer praying for the apocalyspe, but “Back to School” season still brings me some major anxiety, even though I’m no longer a student, or a teacher. But just because the season is changing.
The other night we were driving home when I felt my stomach starting to twist into knots. I just felt…anxious. And I couldn’t connect it with any one thing. It was just everything. “Everything is making me feel anxious,” I told my husband. I couldn’t find the words, it was just…anxiety that slithered in like python, and was beginning to wrap around me.
I started to think about the start of the school year. And about the way our schedule will change. The new responsibilities I will be taking on. The goals I have. The expectations, and mounting pressure to, “Do more, and be more.”
And I don’t know if you ever feel this…anxiety.
But I do.
And I think it’s the same thing I’ve been wrestling since elementary school, when I was afraid I wouldn’t have someone to sit with at lunch, or I wouldn’t know the answer, or I wouldn’t be good enough for the team.
And the thing I fear is: Inadequacy.
The fear of not being able. Of being insufficient. “Not enough.” Or too weak to follow through with my goals. The fear of not meeting expectations. The fear of failing. Of not performing well enough.
And as I thought about the year ahead, I just felt so sure I would drown in it.
“You will never be good enough. No matter how hard you try, you will always fail.”
I felt like I already failed—and I hadn’t even started yet.
“I’ll never have enough time to accomplish what I need to do. I’ll by flying by the seat of my pants as always. I’ll be stressed out. I’ll never have the energy. I will always do a mediocre job at everything I do.”
I felt defeated—and I hadn’t even tried yet.
And then came the worst voice of all, “What are you so worried about? It’s not like you’re even doing anything. People do tons more than you every day, and you don’t hear them moaning about it! Just suck it up!”
If you have ever heard a voice like this, or had a thought like this, I want to tell you right now: this is not from your Abba Father.
This is from the enemy of your soul.
And you want to know something? He wants to destroy you.
Because no matter what your “job” is, no matter if you get paid the big bucks, or none; no matter if you are teaching, or homeschooling, or just walking your child to the bus; no matter if you have six kids, or one; no matter if you have lots of supervisors to report to, or you are self-employed—you may be hearing these whispers, too.
They come from a deep and dark place, and they are the voice of the enemy. And they just keep whispering, “Inadequacy, inadequacy, inadequacy.”
Direct Your Deeds To The Lord
The morning I was wrestling those whispers, and my stomach was churning with anxiety, I happened to read Hosea 5:4, “They do not direct their deeds toward turningto their God, for the spirit of harlotry is in their midst, and they do not know the Lord.”
What pierced me, was that God says,“They do not direct their deeds toward turning to their God’… ‘And they do not know the Lord.” I looked down at my list of “to-do’s” and realized something BIG: I was not directing my deeds to the Lord.
And that’s why insurmountable stress was building. I was taking on goals, and responsibilities, and jobs myself—and not directing those “deeds” to the Lord. I was not even asking Him for help.
I completely believe that God wants us to call on Him during even the most minor tasks. So yes, call on His strength when you are scrubbing the toilet, ask for His patience while your internet is being slow, ask for His love when your husband desperately needs a back massage and you are tired as a dog. Because…
This life was never meant to be lived apart from the all-sufficiency of Jesus Christ.
And we desperately need Him to invade every single area of lives with His grace. And something happens when you call on Him—He comes. He gives you the strength. He brings you the peace. He fills you with the joy.
When Anxiety Meets His All-Suffiency
I know the voices that rise against you, because they rise against me, too. And I could try to encourage you by telling you how great you are. How talented. How there is no one like you. But at the end of the day…that doesn’t actually help.
See, God spoke to my anxious heart. And He didn’t encourage me by telling me how great I was, He encouraged me, He empowered me by telling me how great He was.
And as I looked over my scribbled to-do list, and prayed for the strength to do it, God just spoke so simply and softly to my heart. This is what He said:
“My Grace is where your “not enoughness” meets My all-sufficiency.”
My Grace is where your “not enoughness” meets My all-sufficiency.
Dear brothers and sisters, there is so much grace in Jesus Christ. And for the one who feels like you failed, before you’ve even begun this year…To the one who feels defeated, before you’ve even got started, maybe it’s today is the day you lay your insufficiency down at the cross of His all-sufficiency.
It was as if He is shouting,
“Hey! All you insufficient ones! I will make you sufficient!
All you weak ones! I will be your strength!
All you unable ones! I will make you able!
So call to Me! Cry to Me! Because I am going to blow your mind this year!
And you won’t be impressed with what you can do! But you will be in total awe…of what I can do! And at the end of it, you will fall down and weep with joy because with your own eyes you will see and behold Me!”
God is going to give you everything you need this year.
God is going to give you the energy you need. The financial provisions you need. The mind you need. The motivation you need. The organization you need. The vision you need. The weakness you need. The brokenness you need. The humility you need.
And He is going to give you Himself.
And He will fulfill His purpose for you.
So the pressure is off. And we can send the whispers of anxiety back to the father of lies, where they came from.
Because we have a good, good Father. And as long as we fall on Him, we cannot fail.
His grace is sufficient for us. His power is made perfect in our weakness. And when we are weak, He is even more strong. (2 Corinthians 12:9)
And God did not entrust you to anything this year that He will not overwhelmingly empower you to do.
So come, indadequate ones and fall on His grace, that beautiful place where your not-enoughness meets His all-sufficiency.
“For He who calls you is faithful, and He will surely do it.” 1 Thessalonians 5:24