You would think I would have learned my lesson by now, but sadly history keeps repeating itself. Before each of my numerous surgeries, the pre-op anxiety starts months before and then builds to a huge crescendo as the hour draws near.
What if I don't recuperate well from this surgery? What if it doesn't work? How bad is the pain going to be this time? Will I have the same obstacles as before?
What if, what if, what if?
A writer friend of mine coined the term "future-tripping", and I have come to realize I'm quite adept at it. I look ahead to a point in the future and it's like I'm holding a magnifying glass over the situation. With the sun blazing through the glass, it isn't long before I've created an inferno.
Anxiety takes hold and then, like someone who is drowning, I flail about grasping at anything that resembles grace, but it's nowhere to be found. I want peace in my future imaginings and it, too, is elusive. Why? Doesn't God promise us His grace in our time of need?
Let us then approach God's throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. (Hebrews 4:16)
The greatest hazard of "future-tripping" is that grace doesn't show up in our futuristic imaginings, or in our past lamenting, it can only be found in our exact time of need.
Each time we experience God's grace in the moment, it gives us confidence that He will pour out His grace the next time we need it.
In our angst, grace guides our mind back to the Gospel of Jesus Christ where Truth is found that will counteract the lies that anxiety digs up.
Grace has shown up when I was scooching onto the operating table, squinting at the bright lights glaring down on me, and readying myself to go under anesthesia. That's when grace gave me overwhelming, unexplainable comfort. It was a reassurance that I was in God's hands and a confidence in His goodness. For the first time, I could breathe easily.
So why do we worry about the future? Is it because we think that in doing so, we can somehow control the outcome?
Control is born of fear, not love.
And He said to His disciples, “For this reason I say to you, do not worry about your life, as to what you will eat; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. 23“For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. 24“Consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap; they have no storeroom nor barn, and yet God feeds them; how much more valuable you are than the birds! 25“And which of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life’s span? 26“If then you cannot do even a very little thing, why do you worry about other matters? 27“Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; but I tell you, not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. (Luke 12:22-27)
My anxious worrying does not add a single hour to my life. I am learning, albeit the hard way, to just do the next thing, and leave the future to God.
His grace will take care of me in the future. My job is to trust Him in this moment, on this day.
My form of trying to take control of an undefined future is to "awfulize". I imagine the worst case scenario and then test my emotions to see if I can handle it. This approach does no earthly good because I usually end up turning up the heat of the anticipatory anxiety.
Another hazard of "future-tripping" is that it almost always projects weakness. Maybe I'm just a "glass-half-empty" kind of gal. OCD anxiety doesn't help. More often I project myself as cowering vs. conquering. God has an answer for this as well:
Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But, he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. (2 Corinthians 12:8-9)
It's okay to be weak, in this moment, at some point in the future, anytime, because THAT is precisely when God's grace will show up so that others will see how He lifts us out of the slimy pit and places our feet on solid ground. They will see, be in awe, and place their trust in Him.
God is most glorified in our weakness, therefore, it's okay to be weak.
Paul admonishes us to boast in our weakness.
The fact that this anxiety-ridden girl has come through six major surgeries in six years, is a testimony that God's grace is real. I have experienced it - not in my "awfulizing" and "future-tripping," but in the exact moment I needed His peace and comfort. I found it in surrender. If He can do this for me, He can do it for you too, but it takes practice and the enabling of the Holy Spirit, to stay in the present.
No more "future-tripping"; let's live in this grace-filled moment.
Dear Heavenly Father, I thank you for the gift of your grace. You are faithful to show up in my hour of need and not a moment beforehand. I praise you for the unexplainable peace and comfort your grace delivers. Help me not to look, anxiously, to the future. Keep my eyes focused on You in this moment. Enable me to embrace my weakness and even my fear, knowing that your perfect love casts out fear and in my weakness You are strong. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.
What about you? Do you find yourself "future-tripping"? What happens when you do that? How do you stay in the moment with your eyes fixed on Jesus? What are the benefits? Will you share your experience(s)?
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