Words That Cure

I can’t live with constantly second guessing and fretting about whether or not what I’m doing is God’s will.

The past week was a real bitch, to put it mildly. I spent several nights tossing and turning, suffering anxiety like I’ve rarely felt, as I tried to come to terms with some cold, hard truths. I’ve spent far too long brooding on things in the past, or worrying over things that may never take place, and it all came to a head when I tried to go to sleep.

Unlike some people I know, I don’t fall asleep as soon as my head hits the pillow. Rather, there’s this gray area of time where I just toss and turn, or stare at my ceiling. I try to fill such times with prayer and meditation, but more often than not, they serve as an ideal time for panic and anxiety to land a one-two punch on my conscience. And mornings, as I struggle to roll out of bed, aren’t much better.

I found myself facing some hard questions about why I’m doing certain things with my life, such as running this website. Have I been a good steward of what I’ve been given? As I wrestled with that question, I found myself facing one conviction after another, and I began to realize that I couldn’t keep living like this.

I can’t live with constantly second guessing and fretting about whether or not what I’m doing is God’s will, if it’s what I should be doing. It’s one thing to be self-aware and reflective, but this is quite another. I need to constantly realize that, more often than not, the convictions that cause me to pause and doubt myself don’t come from God but from my own crippled sense of self-worth.

But that’s a topic for a whole other post.

As I was going through all of this, I came across two things that helped me to grasp some truths about myself and the world around me. Truths that I always seem to forget far too easily and always need help remembering. I hope you find them as encouraging as I did (and do).

Exhibit A — Disappointment With God, Philip Yancey

Anthropologist and essayist Loren Eiseley tells of a day when he felt the joy of original creation. An old man then, walking a deserted beach, he found shelter from damp fog under the prow of a wrecked boat and promptly fell asleep. When he opened his eyes, he was looking at the two small neat ears and inquisitive face of a young fox, so young that it had not learned to fear… And then the tiny fox, a vast and playful humor in his face, selected a chicken bone from a pile and shook it in his teeth. On impulse Eiseley bent over and grabbed the other end, and the frolic began.

Loren Eiseley: “It has been said repeatedly that one can never, try and he will, get around to the front of universe. Man is destined to see only its far side, to realize nature only in retreat. Yet here was the thing in the midst of the bones, the wide-eyed innocent fox inviting me to play. The universe was swinging in some fantastic fashion around to present its face, and the face was so small that the universe itself was laughing. It was not a time for human dignity.

For just a moment I had held the universe at bay by the simply expedient of sitting on my haunches before a fox den and tumbling about with a chicken bone.” It was “the gravest, most meaningful act I shall ever accomplish,” he later concluded, for in it he had caught at last a glimpse of the universe as it begins for all things. “It was, in reality, a child’s universe, a tiny and laughing universe.”

Exhibit B — “Felicity, Darling,” Ester Drang

You tell me that you don’t belong here
At all in this place
And you’ve been stumblin’ ’round for years or so
You could’ve been someone glorious
Until you learn to run from these broken days
Until you learn to die to these selfish ways
And it’s been so long since you’ve been gone
Welcome home
I don’t see you for what you’ve done
Welcome home son welcome home

Read more about Ester Drang, Loren Eiseley, and Philip Yancey.