If you struggle with anxiety, self-doubt, nagging little worries and difficulty fully relaxing, I have a diagnosis, and the remedy isn’t in pill form. Your problem may stem from a lack of being planted.
In the past six years, Philip and I have pressed through a lot of change. Some of it our choice, some of it out of our control. The first years of our marriage were fairly calm, but around 2012, it felt like one shift after another as we changed churches, jobs, cities, moved homes 5 times in 4 years, and had Cora. I’m very grateful for where all that transition brought us, and sooooo thankful that we’re not in that phase anymore. But it taught me something interesting about change and the consequences of living in that place for too long – a habit I see a lot of my generation doing.
In those six years, with each new environment we entered, I felt more and more anxious. It takes me a while to warm up, to feel comfortable and to trust the people around me, (hello, 100% introverted on every personality test) and too much of this in too little time took its toll. By the time we faced our biggest challenge in change by moving to Charlotte so Philip could apprentice at Elevation, my new-person-on-the-scene insecurity was doing nonstop somersaulting all up in my spirit, in nearly every scenario. Most of the time I managed to barely keep it below the surface. A few humiliating times, I couldn’t.
Get to know the church staff, Lindsey. *gulp*. Audition for worship, Lindsey. *deep breaths*. Interview for a job, Lindsey *crawls in corner, sobbing*.
Pitch your idea, Lindsey *meltsdown in the bathroom* And, of course, in every first meeting or Bible study or hang-out comes the dreaded: “tell us about yourself, Lindsey” *throws up in mouth*
Change can be refreshing, healthy and necessary. Sometimes, we are called to get uncomfortable by doing something new. But if you’re making constant changes in your life based on your moods, feelings, laziness or apathy, or jumping ship because something gets hard or frustrating or you imagine the grass is greener elsewhere, you’re setting yourself up for some serious inner turmoil. My pastor preaches this suuuuuper well.
Another pattern I’ve noticed is that the longer I’ve stuck with something, be it friendships, a discipline, volunteering, and especially a particular organization like work and church, the less I struggle with crushing anxiety – or worry and fear in general. Even when the going gets tough, perseverance alongside people and places can produce a calm, secure confidence. Because in most cases, the people and places you’re with will improve over time, and it will solidify your confidence, trust, loyalty and influence if you’re part if it. The resolve to stick with a group of people or an organization as it grows – along with their resolve to invest in you as you grow – is a steadying experience. One we too often deprive ourselves from because we bail just as growth and maturing are about to make everything better.
At my church, as the new year approaches, we’re all challenged to pick a word for the year. Something we’re working toward, a dream we want to see happen, a discipline or achievement, a heart shift.
This year, our family word is planted. We’re about to build a house, determined to stick with the communities we’ve invested in and grown alongside (yes, sometimes painfully) over the past three years.
As I’ve learned, without first being planted, you can’t grow the roots of confidence, maturity, influence, authority. Without firm commitment over time, you’re vulnerable to anxiousness, worry, uncertainty, disappointment, and just a general unsettled feeling. I honestly believe this can even affect someone’s health, sleep and stamina.
Perhaps you’re plagued with worry or discontentment because you’re bouncing around too much. And if you’ll permit me to take this one step further; anxiety, fear, insecurity or inner turmoil may also be the spiritual affects of avoiding God’s call on your heart to commit to Him and His ways fully. Walking with God, maturing as a believer and fulfilling your true purpose doesn’t work very well when it’s a part-time, feelings-based commitment.
If any of this describes you, make 2018 your year to be planted. Choose where you’ll put down roots and commit to sticking with it. And if you’d love a little accountability, talk to me in the comments and I’ll pray for you, that you’ll have major wins in this area over the next year. I’d love for you to join me in this journey of being planted!
“They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.” – Jeremiah 17:8