This post is the second in my blog series, Truthful Identity. If you want to check out the first one, click here.
Ask anyone in my family. Actually, just ask anyone who remotely knows me well. They’ll probably tell you the same thing.
I stress easy.
I overthink everything.
I can spin something that is a really great thing into a really bad thing. Just because it stresses me out.
I build stories in my head about things that haven’t even happened yet.
At certain points in my life, my anxiety has controlled my actions and decisions.
Anxiety can and has controlled my life. And it stems from one thing: I hate the unknown, and I want control.
But as I’ve gone through this journey of facing the lies I believe about myself, I’ve come to the root of the things that stress me out to figure out what they are, and why I let them do what they do to me.
As I dug deep and compared different situations in my life, I came to a really strange realization about the things that I let stress me out.
I took two consistent scenarios in my life and put them side by side. I took all the times I’ve laid on an O.R. table and my school career and looked at them both.
And I can honestly say that I can pinpoint certain times when the stress of school took me to my absolute lowest point, causing freak outs and anxiety galore.
But I couldn’t pinpoint a surgery that ever made me breakdown like my school career has even though I was staring the biggest unknown in its face.
I, for some reason, remember more about my surgeries than I probably should. I remember up to the point when I fall asleep vividly for most of my more recent surgeries. My Grandma, who’s a nurse, says everyone’s different but it could be because of the fact that I’ve gone through so many.
I can remember each of those moments. I remember laying on a table, staring at that big light before they put me asleep. However, I never remembered feeling anxious. I remember feeling sadness and fear as tears leaked down my cheeks but never anxious like I have over schoolwork.
In fact, I remember one time telling some doctors as they walked me through how they were putting me asleep, “This ain’t my first rodeo,” they laughed, and put me asleep.
Last time, I vividly remember crying as I answered the anesthesiologist questions about UF that were an attempt to distract me. But once I was in there and saw Dr. Miller and returned his thumbs up, I was okay.
But why is that? Why is it that I sometimes let something as simple as homework take me to a breaking point, but if you throw me on an O.R. table after a few deep breaths and maybe a thumbs up, I’m okay?
As I thought about it, it baffled me. Surgery is far more significant than an exam or homework assignment. Yet, schoolwork has taken me down more times than a medical challenge.
But as I thought about it more, I figured it out.
On an O.R. table, I’m completely vulnerable. At that point, there is nothing I can do about the situation and I know that. It’s completely in God’s hand; no matter how hard I yank his arm, he can’t and won’t give the situation to me. I also usually have pretty significant prayer support around that moment.
I feel small on an O.R. table, and my only choice is to surrender.
But in school, I feel big. I feel like I can control it. If I spend one more hour studying or one more day looking over this assignment, I can make it better. I don’t need God in my small homework assignment, I’ve got it.
But before I know it, I have raised an exam above everything else in my life, including God. I take school, and map out my own plan and look at my plan like I’ve got it all by myself. And that’s where I lose it.
On an O.R. table, I realize a reality I should realize every day of my life: I am small and I need God. And that’s why I think an O.R. table is a place where I’ve found the most peace in my life.
Because I learned how to surrender there.
But in my everyday life, I’m too worried about my grades, what people will think of me and making sure things going according to my plan.
I put my value in my grades, so I don’t want to give them up to God.
I worry about what people think, so I don’t want God to have control. I want control.
I let myself feel bigger than I am, and my human nature doesn’t feel the need to and frankly, doesn’t want to surrender.
In The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness Tim Keller writes: “But Paul is saying that in Christianity, the verdict leads to performance. It is not the performance that leads to the verdict…In Christianity, the moment we believe, God imputes Christ’s perfect performance to us as if it were our own, and adopts us into his family.”
I think in my daily life I do two things:
I believe that my performance leads to my verdict. Because I define my “verdict” as what others think of me. The reality check here is: only God’s opinion matters, and my verdict was determined the day he hung from that cross.
And I give myself too much credit. I think I can control things that I can’t, just because their “smaller” than a surgery. Sure, I can try my best at an exam or an assignment. But when I turn it in, it’s out of my hands. Ultimately, I can’t control it.
At the start of this semester, I told myself to live with more perspective and surrender. Perspective that I am a sinner and I am small. I can’t live up to my expectations or anyone else’s, so I need to live only for God’s opinion of me and God’s opinion is already formed.
Surrender in the fact that my plan is already mapped out for me.
But perspective in that surrendering doesn’t mean I don’t try.
This first week already, I have found so much freedom in just doing my best and not stressing, because I know God’s got the plan mapped out.