The Pursuit of Enough: Ask me what I have for you…

When I was five months pregnant with Brooksie, I was barely one year into our new life in San Francisco. I was still making friends. I was still coming to terms with the reality of the Pacific Time Zone. And I was learning the more difficult aspects of urban dwelling. I had moved our little family to a new apartment a month before and was still unpacking, frustrated with myself that it didn’t feel like home yet. August was deep in his I’m-two-and-a-half-and-I’m-strong-willed rebellion. I was trying to write posts for Mama Monk late at night. And I was still throwing up that many months into my pregnancy.

I read that paragraph and think: Poor little honey bun. Somebody tell that girl to take a break.

Of course, I see that now. I see that two-and-a-half years later, now that I’m the mother of two and wiser (I hope) about what is possible in this season with kids and what isn’t. I was tired then. but I was trying to power through and do All The Important Things with less sleep, because, I wanted to be strong. Or maybe, I just didn’t want to be weak.

Somewhere during that time, I met with my spiritual director and confessed to her the depth of my exhaustion. But my confession was a confession of failure. I was failing to be the mom I wanted to be. I was failing to be the woman of prayer I wanted to be. I was failing to be the wife I wanted to be. I was a disappointment to myself. Therefore, I must be a disappointment to God.

But, that day, the words that came out of my spiritual director’s mouth were not words of reproach but words of possibility.

Micha, what does God want to say to you in your exhaustion?

I didn’t know until that moment. I didn’t know that God wanted to say anything to me in my exhaustion. I just thought I had failed. Was failing. I thought I wasn’t enough.

I was weak. And God wanted me to know that God wasn’t.

*

This week has been a tough one in my  year-long attempt at believing God’s grace is enough, that I am in enough in Christ. I know I struggle with anxiety and I’m finally beginning to recognize the sorts of things in my life that swing my emotions into panic. I’m beginning to look at what’s underneath those anxiety igniters. But that process is long and hard.

There are two big panic buttons in my mind right now. One is my book and the decisions I’m needing to make ASAP. The other is our living situation and some difficult choices Chris and I are facing regarding it. And my head is slamming from one anxiety to the other. Back and forth, back and forth. A ping pong brain.

I was walking by myself to the neighborhood coffee shop Tuesday afternoon, while the babysitter fed my boys their after-school snack, and I let myself relax my jaw for a second. I felt my whole body sigh. Isn’t it amazing how we carry our hurt in our bodies? That jaw relaxing moment reminded me to pray.

What to pray? I’m sorry I’m anxious? I wanted to confess my failure. I am, after all, a living story of NOT, “pray[ing] about everything” and instead “worry[ing] about anything”… But that wasn’t the story God was telling me when I relaxed my jaw and came close to prayer.

What I heard was this: Ask me what I want to show you in your anxiety.

Okay.

“God, what do you want to show me in my anxiety?”

*

I don’t have a lot of answers for anxiety. It digs itself deep into the brain and comes out in ways that feel uncontrollable, way too powerful sometimes. But, what a relief and what joy, to hear God say: Ask me.

Not, “Figure this out!” Not, “Pray your way out of this!”

Just, “ask me what I have for you in this, Micha.”

How tender of God. How grace-filled.

Maybe Enough is found there, where God says: I see you and I know this thing in your life. And I have something to show you in it. 

*

What about you? Where are you finding enough this week?

  • Jeannie

    I needed this exact message today as I struggle with a conflict with a dear friend:

    Not, “Figure this out!” Not, “Pray your way out of this!”

    Just, “ask me what I have for you in this, Micha.”

    Except He’ll probably call me Jeannie, but other than that it is so right-on. :-) Thank you for this today.

  • carameredith.com

    Yes. There’s truth in the midst of and because of the hard things. Here for you, friend!

  • pastordt

    Beautifully said, Micha. Such a great question to ask! And how wise of you to ask it of yourself and of God. I’m just so sorry about this living situation thing, whatever it is (and I can sorta guess, based on hints here and there) and all the angst that produces in you. Praying for relief from that angst, Micha. And for those tied-up-in-knots folks who live below you, too.

  • http://howtotalkevangelical.addiezierman.com/ Addie Zierman

    I love this. “Ask me what I have for you in the anxiety.” Beautiful. (And I have the clenched jaw issue too.)

  • Christine Gough

    Oh, sweet girl. Clenched jaw here. And shoulders up to my ear lobes. Do you ever get that one too?? Praying for you. Praying for clarity and peace and easy-to-make decisions. Much Love.

  • http://www.caramichelestrickland.wordpress.com/ Cara Strickland

    I’ve been praying through the idea of paying attention to what irritates me. I hate doing this. But I’m seeing so many things, and hearing from God in a new way. Negative emotions are becoming teachers too. Thank you for adding to these thoughts, Micha, I always appreciate your words!

  • Ashley Erks

    You have absolutely described my life right now (to a degree). We just moved into a “new” older house 3 months ago, we have a one and a half year old and we’re just trying to figure out finances, household duties, and time for faith & family. It seems there is not enough time in the day. We try to do the things that matter the most FIRST, but sometimes we pay in the end with our household duties still waiting for us. Thanks for reminding me I’m not alone! I think I’ll go home and make a few lists to help me prioritize…..(ugh)!

  • Briana Meade

    I can so relate to this. I currently have a two year old and a four month old and ended up with a clenched jaw that literally turned into TMJ (where your jaw hurts constantly) from all the stress. My four month old refuses to sleep and God has been using all of the pent-up anxiety and debilitating mess that is my life to remind me of how helpless I REALLY am. As I’ve slowly come out of this, I am in a much better state of dependence, slowly (and with baby steps) realizing that I have slightly released my grip on my life–which was extremely tight prior to parenthood!


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