Kipper is a Great Teacher (in more ways than one!)
This is my dog Kipper. Anyone who knows me in real life, knows that I am pretty attached to my dog. He’s not just a pet. He’s part of the family.
When we brought Kipper into our home when he was just 12 weeks old, my goal was that he would be able to go everywhere with us. To do that, though, he had to be well-behaved and well-trained. So, I started right to work.
One of the first things I taught Kipper was to get into the car. After all, car rides were a vital part of going wherever we went. It wasn’t until a few weeks into the training that I realized my puppy was training me and not the other way around!
You see, Kipper just LOVES food, so, when I was working with him on the command “up” so he’d jump into the car (or really any elevated surface – within reason), he stealthily taught me to give him the treat (or more than one) first. When it finally dawned on me that I was being played by a 5-month-old puppy, I changed things up. (As you can see, that face was kind of hard to say no to!)
Anxiety Isn’t Always Obvious
I’ve found that anxiety can be just as stealth as Kipper trying to get a treat. Fear tends to come at you head-on, but anxiety is a sneakier beast. It seems to creep up and settle in without me even being aware. Just like Kipper, anxiety can start to get me to follow its lead without me even realizing it.
Today I was reading in Psalms 27 (when I am in between studies, I pick a Psalm that corresponds with the date). Psalms 27 is all about overcoming fear. Not surprisingly, it’s one of my favorite Psalms, and I have verses underlined and notes jotted in the margins.
One such note stood out to me today – God’s presence combats fear.
And it’s true. Shining the truth of God’s Word can expose the fears and anxieties that have started training your mind into certain ways of thinking and believing.
It’s Not Surprising When We Struggle With Our Calling
As many of you know, I am a writer. I’ve struggled with what that calling means and how to go about it and even if it is a “real” calling. This year, my word has been contend, and one of the things I have been contending for is what it really means to be a daughter of God Almighty.
As I’ve stepped into this fight (because, make no mistake, that is what it is – a fight), I’ve realized that the enemy has zero desire for me or anyone else to fully realize their identity in Christ! I’ve had to repent and mourn wasted time. I’ve become bold in my prayers about fulfilling my calling to write. I’ve also asked God to show me where and how I am being blocked or sidetracked.
God is always faithful to answer our prayers, and HE showed me how much anxiety had crept in regards to my calling. From the anxiety of trying to learn marketing to the anxiety of finding the time (I swear, if I spent half the time writing that I did worrying about finding the time to write, I’d probably have a whole series of books done by now!), worry had blanketed nearly everything to do with my writing.
In my mind, writing and anxiety had become linked. Instead of the joy I’ve always felt when creating new worlds with words, I found it had become something heavy and burdensome.
What Is Your Mind Stocked With?
As I read Psalms 27 this morning, I found myself heading over to a few other favorite verses that deal with anxiety. One is Psalms 34:4 which says, “I sought the Lord and HE answered me and delivered me from all my fears.” There was the theme of seeking out God’s presence to combat fear.
Then I flipped over to my life verses (and yes, I get the irony!) in Philippians 4:6-8. Again, we are told to seek God in prayer and supplication with every anxious thought we have. We are also told what to focus on our minds on too: things that are true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, of good repute; things that are excellent and praiseworthy. That’s what we are supposed to dwell on.
Being the nerd that I am, I looked up the original meaning of dwell, and it wasn’t what I thought it would be . It actually means to number or take inventory. It has this idea of very deliberate recounting.
I realized, as I prayed and meditated on these Scriptures, that I had allowed so much anxiety to creep into my mind and set up residence over my writing. And the battle had nothing to do with how much time I had or how busy I was or anything else. It had everything to do with what I was inventorying in my mind – which were all the obstacles and challenges.
Once again, I had allowed the “I can’ts” to stock my mental shelves.
In the coming weeks, I’ll be praying that God reveals all the ways I can’t is inadvertently training me. I have a feeling I might be surprised at how often I dance it its tune.
What anxieties creep into your life if you’re not careful? I’d love to hear about them!