I’ve never been a great traveller, even as a small child. However, over the years it seems to have gotten worse. I’m sure that age and life has played a big part in this struggle. Somehow I find that the older I get the more I’m aware of the “what if’s”. There is such an innocence to being young and free, one we do not realize until we start to grow up. I used to be carefree and nonchalant about packing and preparing for trips. Now I try to control it all, and envision every situation that could go wrong, then in consequence prepare for it. It is utterly exhausting to be thinking of the things that MIGHT go sideways. Keyword here is “might ”, there is no proof or evidence that something bad will happen. But the mind runs like a wild beast that can paralyze you, and stop you from all the good plans God has for you.
As I sit here on this plane, I realize that I haven’t travelled in over three years. I can tell you the anxiety in me is high, not because of COVID. Let’s just acknowledge though that there are many of us that are afraid to travel because of this. Unfortunately the fear that society has pushed into our lives and minds have been ingrained in some of us. What a shame that the past two years have affected so many areas of our lives, that we will have relearn to do “normal”. Once upon a time we travelled from here and there on trains, buses, planes without a care in the world. Now we wonder is it safe? Life just keeps going on and we miss it because of the fear mongering society we now live in.
As a child anxiety came in a different form for me, most of the time I was not aware of these feelings. The beautiful things in life would absolutely exhilarate me to the point of physical sickness. They still do though to some degree, my husband brought me to a ballet at the NAC in Ottawa pre covid, and although it was the most beautiful experience, I felt wretched the whole time. I had pumped myself up so much that I was feeling unwell. This feeling is so disheartening. Then I felt worse because my husband was so excited to treat me to this special night, and I ruined it with my emotions in overdrive. Why can’t I just be normal like everyone else, and enjoy the good things with ease. I feel everything with every fiber of my being. Tell me you are sad and I will empathize with you greatly, nearly feeling the emotions you are currently experiencing. Sounds like that just means I care and it’s so sweet, well I do care but a little too much. People like me need to learn how to separate ourselves from situations and problems we cannot fix. Now I joke with my husband that he probably should just surprise me at the last minute, so I don’t have time to psych myself out.
Now anxiety enters when I have anything big going on in my life, when I am in the unknown. There is no doubt that I am not the only one that gets anxious about the unknown. Many children get the first day of school jitters, because they are unsure of what the new school year will bring. For myself travelling is being out of my element, out of my comfort zone, and not knowing what could happen. Having been home with my children for the past 3 years has put me in a deep sense of security that I can control. That is what it is all about when it comes down to it – CONTROL. I can control who comes into my home, what we eat every night, how early we all go to bed, the level of cleanliness. Although, as a mom of four I have embraced the chaos and imperfection of our home. As they say it’s my own filth anyways, totally different when you stay in a hotel that is not clean. There is perfection in the imperfections of life. If I don’t feel well, being in my home allows me the luxury of resting in my own bed. I control my surroundings, and there is something to be said about that.
We learn as Christians that God is in control of all, but I honestly believe it is the hardest practice to apply in our own lives. My daughter wanted to join the badminton team this year, but she also has to study more than others to succeed. So we wanted to be sure that this was something she could handle with her workload. Being that she has come leaps and bounds since Christmas we allowed her to try out for the team. As she stepped into the van after practice with a big grin on her face, I assumed all went well. She proceeded to tell me that she’d won every tournament except for one I believe, and that they would find out the results in a couple days. Then she told me something that made my jaw drop and left me speechless for a few minutes. “Maman before practice I prayed that God would have His will on this situation. That He knows the workload I have and if He thinks it good for me to join then I ask that He allows it” My 12 year old daughter had given God complete control over a situation that she really wanted with her whole heart. That is a hard prayer even for adults to pray, let alone a young teenager. Unfortunately she did not make the team, and she was crushed for a couple days. I made a point to sit down with her and explain that sometimes His will is not ours, and there is usually a really good reason for it. We may never understand why, but don’t stop praying for His will as it is a protection over us, and He has good plans for us.
A couple days before embarking on the plane to Victoria, BC God put a scripture on my heart. Philippians 4:8 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. At first I pondered why God had put this specific scripture on my heart, but then I realized He was speaking to my mindset. This verse speaks to what we allow our minds to think on. As I’ve told you I’m guilty of allowing my mind to see the “what if’s” and not in a good way. Jesus was telling me that it’s time to start thinking about the now and what you know to be true, good, and praiseworthy. Do I know for sure that I will get sick? No, so this is not truth, this is fear ( which is not of God might I add). After thinking on this for a little while I decided to build myself a little picture if you will. I set my sandals, the book I would read, my bible, sunglasses, and favorite headband out beautifully positioned to look at. An image I could hold in my mind while praising Him and believing the good things He has promised me. A big part of this scripture I believe speaks about trust. Because if you are going to think on things that are true, just, and pure to name a few then you need to trust that He’s got your back. It is not easy to do at times, but our job is to believe and trust in that. How can we claim that our trust is in Him while we are fretting over every little thing.
There are many days that me and my one and half year old drive on the highway, being her age she is backward facing strapped in her seat. We also have a little mirror attached just above her so that I can see her while I’m driving. Most times when it is just me and her, she sits there quietly, happily looking out the window. When her siblings are in the car it’s basically a free for all/party going on behind me. Laughing, screaming, listening to music, they are just missing a disco ball with flashing lights to call it a rave. Although when it’s just Maman and Esmée she has a peaceful look about her as we go speeding down the highway (under 120 km/h, I promise) Her expression has me thinking many times as I’m driving about the peace that He wants for us, and would love to give us. She can’t see out the front window, because of her age she doesn’t know where we are going, and believes that I am driving the car safely. Her mind is set on the good, true, and pure things she knows as a young child. Blind faith and peace is what that little girl holds as we drive around town. Imagine the peace we would have if we simply enjoyed the ride that God has us on. Yes, of course especially as adults we know that there are going to be some bumps on the way. But we need to focus on the things we know to be true and good in our lives.
As we focus on the things that are good, true, and praiseworthy we allow ourselves to enter into His presence fully. What images can you hold onto that can help you make it through the bumpy ride? How can you live in a state of peace with a negative mindset? To dwell in His presence takes a positive spirit filled attitude, that can only be attained by training the mind daily. To follow this scripture you must also not only think on good, true, pure, and praiseworthy things, but you must speak of them as well. What comes out of our mouth has a direct effect on the state of our heart and mind. Our tongue and mind are connected in such a deep powerful way, words are everything. All you need to do is speak the Word into your life, then watch and see the change in you, and all the things around you. The more you voice something, the more it becomes a truth in your mind. Whether that is self talk, or talk about other people in your life. But what happens when the people you surround yourself with spend their time dwelling on non praiseworthy things, and constantly slander others? I’m sorry to be the one to tell you this, but you need to take some distance from these type of relationships, then pray for them.
When you feel as if there is nothing praiseworthy in your life, look on all the miracles and good things He has already given you. In dark places it is hard to see the light, but He is the light of the world, and to have victory we must focus on Him. Perhaps there are times you feel like Job and that there is nothing to praise Him for, or you feel forsaken. If you haven’t read the book of Job, I suggest you do that. That dude went through so much pain and suffering, yet he remained faithful to God through it all. In my opinion it is a hard read, because you see Job going through so much, and on top of that his friends are not entirely on his side. I’m willing to bet he had a hard time thinking on whatever is true, pure, and praiseworthy. The one thing Job did not do was deny God or turn away from Him because of his circumstances. His wife even asked him to curse God, but that he did not do. How did he make it out of such a dark time, he never left Jesus, no matter how hard it got. Did he ask questions, lament, feel pity for himself, felt depressed, and perhaps much more? Yes he certainly did, but never did he curse God. I refer to this story because Job certainly did not feel as if he had anything praiseworthy to focus on. Perhaps you are going through a time that you can relate with him. But keep heart, your redeemer lives, and He will not leave you for He has good plans for you. Job ended up being greatly blessed in the later days of his life, God did not just leave him to die nor did he forsake him. He will not abandon you either in your hour of need.
What do you know to be pure and true in your life that you can hold onto today? Practice imagery in your mind of the good things from the past, and even for the future, believing that He has good plans for you! Live in the moment God has given you, there is surely something praiseworthy to think on! This is no small feat, and needs to be practiced daily. I am still working on it, none of us have this down to perfection. But that is the beauty of the love He has for us. He knows that we will mess up and need to start over again and again, none of us are worthy. But, oh, how He loves when we turn to Him with a pure heart of praise, knowing that He has our lives in His hands.
Philippians 4:8 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.