The very texture of my life has been stress, anxiety, guilt. At this moment, living feels a bit oddly vacant because this ever-present texture has retreated to reveal space and the light of hope.
This is all very nice and poetic, perhaps even narcissistically grandiose. But what happened? Did I have some kind of psychological breakthrough? Did I discover some long-suppressed memory from my childhood? Did I learn "I'm OK, you're OK?"
I learned I'm not ok. I've known this, but I know it now a little more thoroughly than before. And, I believe I know it because of joining with brothers and sisters in a conscious pursuit of obedience in things previously excused. So it is with the blessing of sanctification, "being made holy". Sanctification requires humility in increasingly greater measure, which explains my natural aversion to it.
My job, debts, commute to work, 'emotional baggage', I commonly say are stresses in my life. These stresses I now understand have never been the external influences I imagined them to be. They are stressful only because I make them that way in my self-reliance, greed, lust, and pride.
Idolatry, every one.
How can faith in Christ and faithfulness to the one, true, living God lead to anxiety? But, rebellion against God is stressful.
"The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace;" ~Romans 8:6
"The wicked man flees though no one pursues, but the righteous are as bold as a lion." ~Proverbs 28:1
Anxiety and guilt are God's blessing to me. The alternative is being numb to the evil of my sins and given over to them.
"No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it." ~Hebrews 12:11
Our circumstances do not dictate our demeanor. As we turn our hearts toward Jesus, putting our trust in his provision, not only forever, but also even for now, we find peace in obedience that is in no way oppressive, but rather liberating. Obedience that comes from faith really is joy sublime.
"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." ~Philippians 4:6