My Experience Learning to Trust the God Who Made Me


“Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.” — Anais Nin

Courage. That’s the thing we need in order to exercise our creativity. Right?

Walk and talk for a long moment with me. If you are anxious, worried or fearful (they’re synonyms, in my book, but you may disagree) — will you work to exercise your gifts? Probably not.

I know that now. Finally. I have accepted it after years of wrestling with my anxiety, doubt, depression, fear, shame and guilt.

I am finally in a place where I can stop, slow down, and breathe. I can listen to the voices of positivity and affirmation around me.

When I was tangled up in “my anxious ball of yarn,” as a dear friend put it to me plainly, I could not listen to anyone, or at least not to the people closest to me. Would not.

Now, I am feeling better. Not fixed or problem-free. I doubt I will ever be “fixed” or “problem-free.” Not here on Planet Earth, this crazy-stupid-awesome-beautiful-fun-joyful-scary place.

But I can take heart. I can grip the hands extended. I can reread all the letters, notes and cards of encouragement shared with me over the years that I read at the time but didn’t absorb.

I can write my stories without fear of failure, shame or disappointing the people around me.

Because what, ultimately, matters? In this battle for courageous creativity, what matters most, to me, is Freedom. Joy. Sight. The ability to communicate clearly and powerfully, whether in writing or verbally, without breaking out into hives and having to wear turtlenecks and scarves to hide my pain and anxiety.

Because hiding is not what I need. Freedom, courage and joy are what I need.

I am starting to believe your voices, friends. Keep speaking to me. Keep listening. Keep trusting me to work through this in my own time, my own way.

Your input isn’t going to be the thing that gets me through this, though. I will listen and receive it with joy, as much as I can. But I need to begin listening to my own voice now. I have been suppressing it for far too long in a false effort to achieve daily survival.

The phrase “false effort” sounds like self-judgment, but it’s a strong, powerful descriptor of the truth as I experience it. I have believed lots of lies about you, me, the world in which we live, and The One who created it.

From a very early age, people in my life saw my pain and were trying to help me work through it. And I could not, would not, receive help.

Why? I am sure there are a lot of factors, including heredity, environment, brain development, brain chemistry, personality (I am a very intuitive, sensitive woman), and spirituality.

That last one especially. I believed God was the cause of my problems for far too long.

You may still agree God is the cause of your problems. You may deny He exists at all. But listen to me. I am 10, 598 days old. Know I am saying this in a gentle and honest tone: You, too, can have freedom from believing a lie about God.

He is not out to get you, if He exists, which, believe me, I understand you might not accept. I have trouble grasping it myself. I fear what it will mean for my life if I affirm it.

But look, there’s that word again. Fear! What a way to live! It’s not a way. It’s a coping mechanism.

In the Gospel of John, the fourth book about Jesus in the New Testament, Jesus says, “I Am The Way, The Truth and The Life.”

As I step into that statement and move around inside it, looking at it from all angles, examining its corners and rough edges, I realize one thing: He is right. I have been looking for a Way Out. I have been looking for Truth with a capital T. And I have been looking for a Life of Abundance.

Nothing I have sought or tried has given me any sort of peace, rest or answers.  I am finally at a place where I am ready for peace, rest and answers. I have decided to try trusting God.

I suspect He will deliver. Almost everyone I know in West Michigan believes He will. Eventually. Deliver. In. Some. Way.

  • C.S. Lewis (eventually) believed it, after years of questioning and doubting. 
  • G.K. Chesterton was convinced.  
  • George Washington wrestled and found a form of God he could accept. 
  • J.E.B. Stuart was devout and articulate in his written prayers and letters. 
  • Robert E. Lee had trouble understanding God because of death and destruction. But He loved Him anyway. 
  • Maya Angelou's poetry and personal writings clearly show a heart turned toward God despite unspeakable levels of trauma. 
  • Flannery O’Connor was a lifelong doubter who rolled around inside Catholicism and prayed eloquently, fervently and honestly, grasping the truth tightly with both hands. 
  • Louisa May Alcott wanted to believe God but felt she couldn’t. Transcendentalism was too powerful an influence, and it appealed to her deeply. 
  • L.M. Montgomery often tried to find and love God but was distracted by the abuse from her preacher husband. 
  • A.N. Wilson rejected the idea of God for years as an agnostic but finally came around. 
  • So did J.R.R. Tolkien, who wrote the words above, "Not all who wander are lost." 
  • Richard Dawkins and the late Christopher Hitchens built careers by destroying the evidence they saw in order to persuade others there is no possible way The Way could be true. 
  • Folks like Ken Ham, John Piper and Albert Mohler have pieces of The Truth. But they have put up blinders to the rest, and, I believe, distort the parts they know.  
  • Honest seekers like Rob Bell, Rachel Held Evans and Scot McKnight have made it their public mission to unhook The Church Universal from its warped presentation of The Gospel. 
  • Pope Francis has tied the Vatican to a chair until the bishops and cardinals will listen to his voice of sanity, reason and compassion. The voice that traveled from humble roots in Argentina to sit in the world's most powerful chair is spreading healing to the whole world by washing the feet of lowly travelers.
  • Jesus Christ represents the purest form of love that ever walked the Earth. His stories, writings, actions, words, group of friends and followers -- they all prove clearly to me He was not just a witty guy, a good prophet or an articulate and kind teacher. He was all of those things. And He IS -- STILL -- the Son of God, and He walks the streets of the heavenly realms waiting for the day when we will all finally get what He was all about. His mission was one of compassion and life-change everywhere He went. His voice accepts instead of condemning. He erases fear by spreading love and truth. 

I believe this body of evidence all points to one place: The Cross. It points to Father God’s creation of the universe. It reminds us of His Son Jesus’ death and resurrection to atone for all of the lies, fear and guilt we heap upon ourselves and one another. It illustrates The Holy Spirit’s still small voice, whispering truth and waiting for us to invite Him inside so we may receive His Power to carry out the will of the Father and Son.

Where else could the evidence lead? I don’t see other options, and I wonder if I really need other options. I am willing to give it a shot.

I embraced the Spirit’s power in December in a Women’s Bible study at Ada Bible Church, finally trusting, just enough, that He wasn’t a mystical force or a weird and silly lie.

I trusted Him just enough to let Him inside. He started to move around, looking at me from all angles, considering my corners and rough edges.

This week, I realized the Holy Spirit is the only One who has enough power to take that examination of the truth about me and do something with it.

I can leave it in His hands. I don’t have to worry He won’t get it right. I can accept the power courage gives me, and I can walk back to my computer, back into my house, back into my friends', neighbors' and some former co-workers’ lives, without being afraid of disappointing them. Without being afraid at all. Of anything.

Hold me to it, friends. Please hold me to it.

May the triune God bless you with His great love and His mighty, peace-filling presence. Amen.

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Alan Blanchard said...

Powerful writing preceded by lots of thoughtful reflection and thinking on your part, well done!

... fear and worry, something we all have in common, can distract us, paralyze us, undo us ... memorizing and meditating on Philippians 4:6,7 doesn't make the problems go away, but it does provide an ever-present and solid comfort, compliments of God. Kind of like when, as a child, a fear-inducing event was erased the moment the parent reached for and the child clasped the father's or mother's hand.

Rachel E. Watson said...

Thanks for the reminders! Glad you appreciated my words about this terrible struggle for my soul. :)