praying the Psalms: adoration and anxiety
We pause – selah – after this second week (plus) of praying the Psalms.
We pause to breathe and to consider the work of His hands, to consider the practice of praying His Word back to Him. To consider the power in meditating on the Word of the Lord and speaking truth to our own hearts.
I read not too long ago that the antidote to anxiety is the adoration of Christ. I think the idea as communicated in this way is attributed to Ann Voskamp, but I am certain it originated long ago. Because haven't we always known that it is with eyes on the Lord we find our greatest rest and greatest peace?
O, soul are you weary and troubled? No light in the darkness you see?There's light for a look at the Saviour - and life more abundant and free!Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face,And the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.
But let me be real: even in this practice of adoration, I am not always in it for the right reasons. I don’t mean to be selfish, but I cannot help it sometimes. When my anxiety or frustration does not cease after I have begun to practice gratitude or adoration, I grow frustrated at the Lord. I want a fix. I want a way out. I want my weary soul to quit being troubled. And I want it now.
For over ten years now, I have struggled with anxiety. For a period of several years, it manifested itself as full-on depression. I began seeing a counselor during this time, because the anger I felt and the deep sense of loss of "all I once held dear" was so completely disorienting I almost couldn't function. Depression in me presented as binge-eating, self-harm, laying in bed in the darkness, and I was angry & irrational, not to be relied upon.
These days it seems to be the dull throb of anxiety that is ongoing. A tightness in my sternum. Like maybe someone tied a rock around my stomach and is pulling it down. A nausea that suggests I may be physically ill. Sleeplessness. A buzz of anger I cannot easily account for. I'm not trying to paint a frustrating or painful picture for the sake of it. And I know many women who experience anxiety and in myriad ways. But I am writing in a way I have not before of the experiences that are drawing me and motivating me to this practice of adoration.
This past week, I spoke with my counselor. A pastor/ mentor/ friend I have been listening to for nearly a decade. I told him all the things that are going on and all the restlessness, the wondering, the seeming “no man’s land” we are in with so much unfinished – things we cannot make move faster, things we cannot finish quicker. This land of limbo is wearing on me and I am bearing up under the burden of the unfinished, growing agitated. I confessed to him my frustration with the Lord for not responding to my adoration practice with an ease or peace.
My counselor took me to the gospels. In John 12:27, Jesus is foretelling His own death and He says, “Now my soul has become troubled; and what shall I say? ‘Father, save Me from this hour?’ But for this purpose, I came to this hour.”
Which is to say – Jesus was not facing His death because He somehow misread God or was misapplying the Scriptures or had somehow become disobedient. Jesus, the perfect expression of adoration, was bearing up under a troubled soul because He was exactly where He was supposed to be. At this place, my counselor pointed out, “Your Father is not likely to save you from a troubled soul, Sarah. He who did not spare His own Son from a troubled soul…”
My counselor said many other valuable things. I took notes and I cried and told him I didn’tlike this part. But until I have hashed it out with the Lord, this is my honest response: I need to be quiet.
I wanted to be writing this post from a place of acceptance, but the horrible truth is that I really wanted to have nailed it before I wrote it. I had this self-righteous idea that I would be posting this because I would have figured it out and now can share what I’ve mastered. It’s much nicer to speak of the battle in the past tense. “In the past I’ve struggled to…”
But I can’t do that. The best I can do is this:
I am a mess. I am sad and tired and anxious and I keep doing “all the right things” and they aren’t making me feel better and I am ticked at God about it. I want out and suddenly I feel like I know nothing. It’s ridiculous.
What I do know is that it is always okay to obey. So I’m reminding myself that I have not yet sweated drops of blood, have I? Because Jesus faced far worse than you or I because of His obedience. Our obedience is costly. We obey and we express gratitude and we adore the Christ because it is right and good to give glory to God.
The only option I have is to glorify God, even in my troubled soul.