It’s been awhile since I’ve written anything here. Life has been…well, just life. Spent a few weeks planning and enjoying a family vacation. Transitioned to office space after years of working from home. Finishing up a course of study that I began two years ago. Just life.
But suddenly life has amped up a bit. Change is in the wind. My body and my mind are reacting, and the result is anxiety. I’ve been fortunate during my lifetime not to have to deal with depression. But anxiety? That’s a different story! I can become almost manic when faced with life-changing decisions. Why this fear and anxiety? Because I remember.
We worry about our past and are consumed with guilt for what we have done. But God wants us to see and delight in everything through love. … God wills that, of all the qualities of the blessed Trinity, we should be most certain of and take most delight in his love. Love brings power and wisdom down to our level. When we repent, God forgets our sins through his courtesy. So too, he wants us also to forget our sins and leave behind both depression and anxiety. -Julian of Norwich
I have lived long enough that my list of screw-ups could fill a book or two. Some were just garden-variety poor choices that caused momentary discomfort of one sort or another. Others were blatantly sinful, and the consequences far-reaching. The point is that I remember them and I don’t want to add any more guild or painful memories to that repertoire! Now, that can be a good thing…right? But it can also be a fertile bed where anxiety takes root.
Julian of Norwich suggests that God would have us follow his example: he has forgotten my poor choices and my sins the moment I repented of them. For me to continue remembering is tantamount to putting my fingers in my ears and singing “lalalala” at the top of my lungs. I can’t hear God clearly when I am so busy second-guessing decisions in an effort to avoid making a mistake. It’s hard to trust God when I don’t know what he’s saying.
But if I refuse to remember the poor choices I’ve made and focus instead on God’s grace and mercy, his faithfulness to work all things for my good (i.e., transforming me into the likeness of Jesus), might that anxiety dissipate? Might I then be able to simply ask God for his provision for my need, for his wisdom and counsel? And might I then expect to experience the peace of God, that peace which seems impossible when the winds of change are swirling around me? Hmmm, that sounds familiar…
4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. 5 Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; 6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. -Philippians 4:4-7 [ESV]
Are you anxious today? Or depressed? Either way, perhaps what you are feeling is rooted in remembering, in reliving past mistakes and sins. Try following wise Julian’s advice: Forget! Follow it up with God’s word: Rejoice, give thanks, and pray. Then open up your heart for peace that surpasses all understanding to flood your heart and mind. Thanks be to God!