Even good things can become idols. We know this, it’s no secret. What I didn’t realize was that instead of preaching the Gospel to myself all those years staying home with my kids, I preached a different anthem. An anthem that was true, that was good, but it wasn’t an anthem I could build my life on— my identity, my purpose.
When the days were long and hard and emotionally exhausting and full of self sacrifice, I told myself over and over again, “This is what God called you to right now. This is exactly the way He is asking you to serve him, by raising up these children…His children. This is a noble task, and an honor. This is a worthy purpose.” Like I said, good and true. But not a stable foundation. You can see where this is going…when things shifted, when the kids were no longer at home during the day that purpose, that anthem…it changed too. It failed me. I’m still their mom, and my parenting counts maybe more than ever…but it’s so different. When my friend told me God would use this change to wreck me she hit the nail right on the head. Sending all three of my kids to school every day, it took me out for a little bit. It leveled me.
But the good news, our God is a God who rebuilds and restores.
Every day that my kids left for school felt so empty, so void. My anxiety came back, and thank God (literally, not figuratively) I was able to use the tools I’ve learned to function and make do. But that’s not how anyone hopes to describe their life. I marched myself back to my support network of friends and professionals and it didn’t take long at all for God to guide me down a path of healing and restoration.
Even before the healing came, God was speaking to my heart. When I ached for my kids, when I wanted to keep them home and pull them close, God told me that this was my time to be the daughter, to be pulled close and tucked under His wing. This was our special time, just for me and the Lord. And when that wasn’t enough for me, He used my anxiety to level me and remind me yet again, that I am first and foremost His beloved. Everything else about me is secondary. He doesn’t need me to DO anything, to BE anything, and there is nothing left to EARN. When I can’t stop my addiction to striving, He stops me. He stills me whether I like it or not. I’m learning to be thankful for my anxiety (even though I cry buckets because I hate it) because it’s the measurement for my emotional and mental health, which are intertwined in my spiritual health.
Let me say this with everything in me, loud and clear: I DO NOT believe that anxiety is purely a product of sin. I think it’s much too complicated to simplify that way. I think that sometimes we live in a sinful way (for me it’s a mentality of striving and earning and perfectionism) and we become deceived and believe things about ourself or God that we don’t even realize. I think that for some of us our bodies react more sensitively to stress and change. I think that the mind and the body and the soul are so interconnected that when one gets tangled up, they all feel it. I KNOW that God has no condemnation for me (or anyone else who requires more attention to their mental health) and He never pours shame on me, but He offers me freedom and peace when I feel trapped by shame.
If I could go back in time, I would tweak that anthem. I would bath it in the Gospel of Jesus Christ and instead ask God to help me be thankful for the season that He would allow me to stay home and serve my family full time. But I would also ask God to help me keep my eyes locked on Jesus, to derive my purpose and my soul’s worth straight from Him and not from what I did each day. I can’t go back in time though, but I can go forward this way. I’m so thankful that God used a counselor to say, “I don’t think this is about loneliness. I think this is about purpose.” I thought my daily tasks, what I was doing with my time was directly related to my purpose, but God is showing me that He has higher ways. That’s why my word for the year is Purpose. He is helping me rewrite the definition of purpose in my life and I’m loving it. I feel more free, content, and thankful than I can ever remember feeling.
Maybe your seasons are changing too. His faithful and steadfast love endures, and that’s what we can build on life on.