One thing I've noticed about feeling restless... it can bottom me out. And it has. When I get restless, I get tired, I get weak, I feel too overwhelmed to even breathe. Restlessness has been the threshold giving way to depression in my life. It has been the cause of physical anxiety and discomfort. It has set me up for any and all temptations. It has taken my eyes off of Christ and set them instead on the storms of life constantly swirling around me. Restlessness has been a very eager, and not at all welcome, intruder into my mind and heart. I have an ugly history with restlessness.
It always scares me when I get like that, because its heavier than I can fully explain. Eerie even. Often it comes out of nowhere - not because of anything I can name - I just feel it. I don’t know what to do other than wait and pray for it to pass.
Once, a dear friend, also a writer (which makes her annoyingly perceptive) sat down next to me and could tell something was off. Within five seconds of studying my face she had already diagnosed the problem and was giving me a prescription:
"Here. Take this piece of paper and write a full page of things you like. On the back write a full page of things you like about yourself. It'll help. It'll clear your head, give you something to focus on."
I didn't believe that it would work, but I decided to obey because she was pretty insistent.
- when my momma laughs really hard
- deep, thoughtful questions
- vanilla mint chapstick
- sun-lit eyes
- curling my hair
and so on....
I finished the "like" list and then stopped. It totally did help, and I was thankful for the suggestion, but I never made it to the second "like about myself" list. It just felt kinda awkward, kinda vain, so I didn't even try.
That particular bout of anxiety eventually tapered off and other ups and downs have happened since. I forgot all about my lists and was also beginning to forget how bothersome the company of restlessness can be... until lately. Ugh! The swelling feeling of seemingly unprovoked distress is back, with all of the appetite changes, late nights, irregular breathing, irrational thinking, roused fears, and uneasiness that it entails.
One night though, I remembered something. I found that piece of paper, turned over to the blank side and finally created list number two -
Like about myself:
- I'm His.
Peace provides a firm opposition to restlessness. Peace is no uninvited stranger. Peace is family, a virtue with a permanent address in my soul. It lives deep in my heart at all times, because in His grace, God gave me His peace-producing, ever-indwelling Spirit.
And as I freshly acknowledge the reality that... I. Am. His. I have a keen awareness of this peace. It permeates every part of me. It slows my thoughts. It stills my heart before my King. It quiets every lie and whispers gentle truths…
"Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:6-7
"You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you." Isaiah 26:3
"But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you. Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful." John 14:26-27
May today be a fresh revelation not just of God’s love, but of His peace that transcends all understanding and guards your heart and mind.
Aszia Walker is the Discipleship and Outreach Director at pureHOPE in Dallas, TX.