Distracted, upset, worried, agitated, panicked, anxious, troubled...
You get the picture.
Have you ever felt that way?
Like life was crashing upon you, wave after wave, and you just can't catch a breath?
Growing up, my family loved going to the beach.
And we loved bodysurfing.
The challenge of catching waves and riding them into shore was great fun!
But one day, the surf was anything but friendly.
And I found myself in trouble.
The waves were particularly big, and kept coming closer and closer together. I had to keep swimming out to dive under them before they crashed on me, which sometimes worked and sometimes didn't.
I can't tell you the times that I *wiped out*.
Tumbled and tossed, not knowing if I was up or down, panicking that I would ever surface again.
Desperate for breath…
Weary, and caught far beyond my ability to get back to safety.
That's the kind of feeling that I'm talking about.
Sometimes it doesn't take big events to make you feel this way – sometimes it's just the smaller stuff that piles up and topples you into a bundle of nerves.
Recently I spent two weeks with my mother.
We had a good time, though it continues to be a difficult journey.
Her helplessness increases, while at the same time her cognitive abilities decline. And if anyone has dealt with a loved one who suffers from dementia, you know how challenging it is to walk this path.
On the day that I had to leave, things were in turmoil.
Mom has a very tough time letting me go now.
Even when I'm staying with her for a period of time, she is very upset when I have to leave for any reason. She panics, and asks me over and over if and when I'm coming back.
And, when I tell her that I will be going home in a day or two, she falls apart.
Mind you, we have a caregiver who is with her most days, and my other siblings spend days with her during the week, too. So Mom is never alone on any day. But I think she gets used to me being there for longer periods of time, especially overnight, and it's quite disturbing to her when it's time for me to go.
This time was especially painful.
You see, a couple of days earlier, Mom did something to her back, and she could barely walk, even with my help.
And so, I know she was feeling particularly helpless and vulnerable.
My heart was heavy when I got into my car to leave.
On top of those circumstances, there was also *stuff* going on in the rest of the family.
Stresses and medical issues.
Job pressures and financial concerns.
It just seemed like every single person that I love was in some sort of distress, and I felt a deep disquietude in my heart.
I talked to God on the way home.
And later that evening, when I finally sat down, I wrote out my thoughts.
You see, I have this notebook.
I wouldn't call it a journal, it's just something I write in when I'm nervous. It helps to get the feelings out on paper. It seems to lessen the endless ruminating that I do.
So, I wrote – sentence after sentence.
Releasing a litany of fears and worries, frustrations and burdens.
Cataloguing my "what if?" and my "why this?" and my "how will this ever work out?" thoughts. My pen wrote as if possessed, driven by my spiraling emotions.
It has been a very long time since I have felt this helpless.
Oh, how I want to fix everything and make all the bad stuff go away.
I want to intervene, and meddle, and give everyone my opinion.
I want to tinker, dabble, shape, and mold.
I want to take over.
And yet, I can only listen and pray.
It's so hard watching life happen, especially when you have to watch people you love struggle.
I don't like it…
Finally, exhausted, I wrote the only other thing I could think of to say:
"Oh Lord, I cannot…"
I ponder those words.
Are they angry, frustrated, weary, broken?
Are they an expression of my fatigue or a plea for His help?
Are they an admission of my powerlessness or a surrender to His will?
I think it's all of that.
I cannot fix things.
I cannot change things.
I cannot make everything all right.
I cannot turn off my thoughts.
I cannot take another weary step.
I cannot make life work.
And I find it so incredibly difficult to trust God when things are hard and loved ones are struggling or suffering.
But then I realized the truth – I have nowhere else to turn, and no one else to turn to…
"Oh Lord, I cannot…"
Quietly, I heard a reply:
"Yes, dear Sharon. But that is the whole point. YOU cannot…"
Then He reminded me of my life verses:
"Lean on, trust in, and be confident in the Lord with all your heart and mind and do not rely on your own insight or understanding. In all your ways know, recognize, and acknowledge Him, and He will direct and make straight and plain your paths." (Proverbs 3:5-6, AMP)
Yes, I realized, He isn't asking me to stop caring, or to stop doing what I can do.
But He IS commanding me to not LEAN on my own power to figure life out.
My abilities are a faulty prop.
And if I lean on them, I will most certainly fall.
I must not rely on my limited comprehension, or put my faith in myself.
Instead, I must learn to trust God more.
And certainly part of trusting God is EN-trusting Him with the people I love so much, and committing their life circumstances into His hands.
It's very hard.
But in this moment, God reminded me that He loves them far more than I ever could.
He reminded me that He planned every single one of their days, including all the situations that I fret so much about.
He assured me that He listens and He cares.
And He commanded me to remember that HE is firmly in control.
Even when I feel totally out of control – even when I am anxious to take control.
He spoke again:
"Don't worry. I've got this…"
Oh Lord, I cannot…
I cannot stop worrying without Your help.
I cannot watch life unfold without Your help.
I cannot surrender without Your help.
I cannot trust You without Your help.
I cannot take another step…
And then He spoke the most precious words into my troubled soul…
"It's all right, Sharon…
Do you ever feel that you *cannot*? How does God speak to you in those moments?
"'My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,' says the LORD. 'And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.'" (Isaiah 55:8-9, NLT)
"O LORD my God, you have performed many wonders for us. Your plans for us are too numerous to list. You have no equal." (Psalm 40:5, NLT)
"'For I know the plans I have for you,' says the LORD. 'They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen.'" (Jeremiah 29:11-12, NLT)
"…the plans of the LORD stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations." (Psalm 33:11, NIV)
"The LORD Almighty has sworn, 'Surely, as I have planned, so it will be, and as I have purposed, so it will happen.'" (Isaiah 14:24, NIV)
"Commit everything you do to the LORD. Trust him, and he will help you." (Psalm 37:5, NLT)
"Give your burdens to the LORD, and he will take care of you. He will not permit the godly to slip and fall." (Psalm 55:22, NLT)
"I wait quietly before God, for my victory comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will never be shaken…Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will not be shaken. My victory and honor come from God alone. He is my refuge, a rock where no enemy can reach me. O my people, trust in him at all times. Pour out your heart to him, for God is our refuge." (Psalm 62:1-2, 5-8, NLT)
"Casting the whole of your care [all your anxieties, all your worries, all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares for you affectionately and cares about you watchfully." (1 Peter 5:7, AMP)
"The Lord, the King of Israel, is with you; never again will you fear any harm…'Do not fear…do not let your hands hang limp. The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you…in his love he will…rejoice over you with singing.'" (Zephaniah 3:15-17, NIV)
"…the LORD is in his holy Temple; the LORD still rules from heaven."
(Psalm 11:4, NLT)
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