I love mysteries!
And I hate mysteries.
And if I had to guess, I’d venture to say you’re in the same boat with me.
Allow me to explain.
My favorite genre of fiction happens to be suspense/mystery. I love them. Mysteries are a perfect escape from reality for me. I like not knowing what's going to happen next, and I love trying to figure out what happens next anyway, and of course, trying to guess "whodunit." Maybe reading isn’t your thing – but perhaps crime dramas are a go-to for you. I think media trends to show that we, the people, love mysteries.
In real life, however, I have a much harder time getting excited about not knowing what's around the bend. It's far too easy for me to find myself anxious, and often fearful, about anything from what's going to happen when I call this person, to what's going to happen over the course of the year – or beyond. When I don't have a grasp on what to expect or what's going to happen, it doesn't matter how big or small the situation is, I just plain don't like it.
Sometimes I wish life were like one of my favorite, well-worn novels. I wish I knew the ending, so I could better enjoy the story. I wish I had a guarantee that everything will end the way I hope, the way I dream. I wish it were easier to see when things are going wrong, or identify the people who are up to no good. I wish I could easily predict the results of my choices. I just really wish I knew the ending.
When I’m really honest with myself, though, I can trace it even deeper than just the innocent idea of wishing I knew the ending – what I’m really concerned with is control. I want to control my life. I want to control my outcomes. I want to control my relationships. And when God gently reminds me that I don’t have control, I usually respond with anxiety and fear. Another attempt at control.
Why on earth do we think that if we fret enough over something we can somehow control the outcome?
Or am I the only one that falls into that trap? Or maybe if I worry enough about it and analyze it enough, I’ll figure out the answer – but the reality is, as soon as I think I’ve figured it out, God does something completely different. Because His understanding is way beyond mine, and His ways are so much better than mine. Worry and fear cause me to miss that, though, because rather than seeing God, I’m seeing me.
The truth is, when I give in to worry, anxiety, and fear, I’m revealing that I trust what I can see and feel over and above God and what He has promised. I'm revealing that I don’t really believe that God is good, and that He loves me, or that He’s working for my good and His glory.
The truth hurts. Especially this truth. And I think there’s a few reasons for that. One is that worry, anxiety, and fear often start out small. They also tend to be widely acceptable as normal behavior, rather than seen as dangerous or potentially sinful. On the flip side, we can also struggle with the belief that feeling those emotions is immediately sinful. For me, half the battle lies in overcoming my false belief that to even feel that fear is to have already lost the battle, when in reality, it’s how I respond to that fear that will result in my victory or failure.
Here’s something that I hope will encourage you if you struggle like I do with worry and fear: just because a circumstance or situation evokes an emotional response in me doesn’t mean I have to respond to, indulge, or act on that emotion.
In a word: passionate.