I can flip the switch from Resting Weekend Micha to Anxious Snap-Mouth Micha in about, ummm, three minutes of staring at my computer, remembering all that exists in there that I still have to do.
The lovely thing about my Lenten practice of Sabbath beginning at sundown on Saturday night and ending sundown on Sunday night, is that I still have time on Sunday to sort out my week on the computer. I have time to catch up on some blogs, to read a couple of articles. Chris and I go through our calendars together and I plan meals for the week. (Both of those things old, unorganized, anxious-but-cool Micha would have mocked two years ago. Now I crave the planning.)
The terrible thing about my Sabbath ending at sundown on Sunday night is the fierce reminder about what I’m walking into the next day: writing deadlines and unfinished laundry. Daily meal making and dishes. My husband traveling this week and all those coming nights of feeding, washing, and putting down the little ones for bed. Anxiety exists in my mind. But it also exists in my body. I feel it in my ribs. I feel it in my arms. I feel the overwhelming possibility that I will wake in the night to both children crying. Which will I go to first?
I think that’s why my tone turned nasty with Chris last night. Fifteen minutes staring at my screen, trying to make one of those terrible Evite cards for Brooksie’s coming birthday, and the moment Chris didn’t turn his head to my question, the moment he didn’t seem to care enough about what we would do if it rained the day of the park party, the moment he didn’t sense my FEAR… (Not my fear of rain on a park party, not my fear of an imperfect kid’s birthday celebration, but my fear of All These Things There Are To Do.) When he didn’t grasp my pounding heart, my physical memory of loneliness, the tape in my head that plays a constant: You will never complete all that is required of you. You will never be enough.
How is a husband supposed to know that when his wife asks, What will we do if it rains? She really means, Will I ever survive this to-do list? Will I ever be enough?
I said, “Fine, you don’t have to care. I’ll plan this thing all by myself. Don’t worry.” I said it with the bitter edge of my tongue. I said it the way a teenage girl speaks to the friend who rejects her. I said it with false self-sufficiency, when I felt nothing but self-insufficient.*
Yesterday morning, my pastor preached about prayer, about Everyday Spirituality. He spoke from Ephesians 3:14-21, an beautiful passage in which Paul prays for the Church in Ephesus to “be strengthened in [their] inner being with power through his Spirit, and that Christ may dwell in [their] hearts through faith…that [they] may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge…”
How can we ever live into that depth of power? How in the world, in the middle of our messy, busy lives, can we experience and comprehend Christ’s deep and tall, long and wide love? How to hold Christ’s love in our minds beside the monster of to-dos and everyday expectations?
My pastor’s sermon was one of his best ever. Which is saying something. (You can listen to it here. And you probably should, in my humble opinion.) But among Fred Harrell’s words was a statement I can’t stop going over in my mind: “We use our memory to beat ourselves up and beat other people up,” he said. “You will be anxious if that is how you use your memory.”
I can’t get over that truth. If what I remember from my far-away and recent past is my own failings and the failings of others, of course my mind will be anxious. How have I never considered that unforgiveness (of myself, most of all) leads to anxiety?
And if instead of remembering the broken things, I choose to remember God’s goodness, those moments when God revealed himself, the sweet daily gifts God is giving me over and over. If I choose to be thankful, I will be battling anxiety. I will be choosing to comprehend the breadth and length and height and depth of the love of Christ.
After I closed my computer in disgust last night and brushed my teeth with my most ferocious hand movements, I found my husband finishing the dishes in the kitchen. I said, “I’m sorry. I forgot to be thankful.”
I’m sure I’ll forget again. Over and over. But prayer is the coming back. Prayer is the comprehending again. Prayer is choosing the gratefulness instead of the unforgiving fear.