Thursday, April 16, 2009

Anxieties of Reality

The beginning of this semester was a really hard time for me. The very first day of classes I started having panic attacks for no apparent reason. Everything felt heavy, scary, depressing. This is a reflection I wrote as I was coming out of that time and never got a chance to post.

“Have you realized that almost everything we’ve read for this class is really depressing?” my classmate asked with a grim look on her face. We were waiting for our American Literature class to begin in which we were to discuss a story about a Chinese immigrant couple who lost their baby to customs officials. Once the couple spent all of their money to reclaim their “Little One,” the child no longer recognized his mother’s Asian face but ran back into the folds of the white woman’s skirt. Another classmate casually paged through the syllabus wondering if brighter pages were in our future. This incident keeps echoing in my head. I pondered why we would be reading such depressing literature when I realized that we were in the midst of studying “realist” writers—authors who made it a point to describe life the way it really is from the eyes of the common man. That makes the reading even more depressing. The bleak emotions that are being portrayed on the page is a reflection of what the world is portraying to the authors.

Do we really live in that horrible of a world?

I’ve been feeling a sense of heaviness in life lately that has sometimes felt overwhelming. When I think about all the souls that are hurting around me, the tears that stain pale faces, and the heavy burdens that are loaded on countless shoulders—it all feels so overwhelming. But then I have to ask myself, why? What view of the world am I functioning in to allow these thoughts to exist and control me? It certainly could not be the worldview that God is in control of even the smallest sparrow and works all things for the good of those who love him and ultimately for His glory. I have been falling into the false belief that there are no mends for the tragic tears, no redemption from the chains of fears, and no relief for the heavy heart. I know that God is the ultimate Healer and that He redeems us from even the worst of fears and sins. But all too often I feel like the realization of all the pain and injustice in the world falls too heavy upon my frail soul. When this happens I literally feel like a rigid blanket of burdens is being pressed onto my head. My muscles tighten and my heart—racing—sinks, deep in my chest.

I ponder what it would be like to be having such realizations without knowing the Truth. I want to get into the head, but not too far, of those authors who made such sad conclusions about the world and probably never found good enough reason to refute them. What a dark life I have been saved from. What a glorious redeemer I cling onto. I cherish the fact that, though it’s a struggle, I can always fight the lies that invade my mind with the truth that God is in sovereign and loving control. I treasure the Truth that, on most days and in most instances, keeps me comforted in the midst of a broken world.

Words from our Savior: “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on. For life is more than food and the body more than clothing. Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds! And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? If you are not able to do as small a thing as that, why are you anxious about the rest? Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass, which is alive in the field today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith! And do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be worried. For all the nations of the world seek after these things, and your Father knows you need them. Instead, seek his kingdom, and these things will be added to you. Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” (Luke 12:22-32)

Lord, may these words be my anchor.

Comforts for the anxious:
Creation story: the whole cosmos was fashioned by God’s mighty and loving hand. This includes the human heart and mind.
Nothing can spin out of his control. Though his children suffer deeply, He is a loving Father who feels for them in their pains and wants them to run to Him for comfort.
Beauty- in flowers, in mountains, in humanity, in pain

Hymn of Comfort
This is my Father’s world and to my listening ears
All angels sing and round me rings the music of the spheres.
This is my Father’s world, I rest me in the thought
Of rock, of trees, of skies and seas, his every wonder brought
This is my father’s world, and let me never forget
That though the wrong seems often so strong, God is the ruler yet.

Looking back: God used this time in so many ways. One that I am most grateful for is Him giving me a deeper compassion--specifically for the lost. In those times of anxiety, I truly felt hopeless until I remembered the hope I have in Christ. When I encounter those without that hope, it breaks my heart to think they are lost in that sea of anxiety with no anchor to cling to. I remember those feelings. He has also helped me to relate to fellow Christians who also deal with anxieties. Periods of Darkness are scary, but God will always be the light. Allow Him to use those times.


Lyzzi said...

It's so good to see how God has used this time to teach you... and how you've used it to teach others. Thanks for writing!

mel g said...

Turrell, it looks like break has been a good time of rest and reflection for you. Thanks so much for sharing, and thanks more so for your drive to grow and to know and mostly to live more for God.

Beauty in a Barn and a Blanket of Snow

Beauty in a Barn and a Blanket of Snow