I hope you had a wonderful weekend and stayed warm!
I denned in with a good book: Sarah Wilson’s First, We Make the Beast Beautiful: A New Journey Through Anxiety. It’s an excellent read for anyone who, like me, struggles with anxiety. Sarah, best known for her I Quit Sugar cookbooks, has struggled with anxiety for her entire adult life. She’s a terrific writer (she’s a writer and editor by training) and incredibly open and raw. It’s a beautiful book.
Wilson talks about how so many of us crave a form of spirituality – something she refers to as a Something Else. A lot of us spend time overworking, overdrinking, overspending as we seek the part of us that feels like it is missing. In a passage that resonated with me, Wilson talks about how we can use shopping to fill that gap, “hoping the next throw cushion or handbag or novelty ice-cube tray will give you the cosy, feet-curled-up-under-you-on-a-lovely-soft-couch feeling you seek.” Advertisers are masters at tapping into this feeling. They don’t sell you a sweater; they sell you a sweater to wear at a cosy cabin surrounded by golden retriever pups. The promise is intoxicating, but the sweater never lives up to the hype. I’m hoping the shopping moratorium frees me from that.
I highlighted this passage from the book:
You know how dogs do that thing where they circle and circle, unable to find the spot where they feel comfortable enough to settle? That’s us. Most of the time. We wander about, filling up our weekends, creating never-ending to-do lists. It’s like we’re searching for a Something Else that makes us feel … what? Like we’ve landed, I suppose. And that things are all good on this patch. Know what I mean?
I so know what she means. For me, that Something Else is God: the Jesusy God, not the smiting one. And after years of wandering in the desert, looking for the next good thing to fill up some indefinable space, faith has given me that landing point. Faith gives me that “cosy, feet-curled-up-under-you-on-a-lovely-soft-couch feeling.” Faith makes me feel like I’m at home.
Faith does not protect me from bad things — quite the contrary. But when bad things happen I am better able to let God take care of them and focus on the lesson I can learn. This is against my nature, since I’m a Texas Justice jump-to-action type, but my walk with Jesus is teaching me that learning to sit with discomfort and injustice for a while is every bit as important as flipping tables (I always liked that table flipping Bible story best!) After all, God’s got his hands firmly on the wheel and it’s all made right in the end.
Last night’s Golden Globes showed us a little glimpse of what making right looks like, with Laura Dern talking restorative justice and the establishment of a legal fund to help less privileged women fight the good fight. Oprah’s speech was so powerful: “For too long, women have not been heard or believed if they dare speak the truth to the power of those men. But their time is up. Their time is up.” The world is shifting through deliberate thoughtful actions. To me, this is a glimpse of the Kingdom: people standing and supporting each other, offenders brought to justice, everyone living in peace.
Wilson writes that “Anxiety is a disconnection with this Something Else.” And I agree with that too. Whenever I try to seize control of a situation, my head starts to spin and I panic. If I let go and let God direct my actions, things go much better. To be clear, this does not mean doing nothing. But letting God means not letting the news shred you to pieces. It means picking your battles and focusing on where you can best make change. It means focusing on the good and enjoying the lovely things in life. It’s OK to still love a good sweater: just don’t expect it to bring you a deep sense of peace.
This year is a year of letting God. I want this year to be a good mixture of healthy living, reading, community, and prayer. And of joy. Always joy.
I love this Great is Thy Faithfulness graphic from Dayspring as a reminder that we are never alone or abandoned. A reminder that God is in control. A reminder that Something Else is available to us whenever we open ourselves up to the possibility.