My most used, and probably most unhealthy, coping mechanism I practice is perpetually positive thoughts. As crazy as that sounds, I have used “positivity” to stuff and disconnect from my emotions, cover up my weaknesses, and hide from the truth.
If a situation that is uncomfortable and I can’t control arises, I run from the reality of it and tell my self, “Everything is fine. You are fine. You can fix this. You can figure this out.” When stress arises, my internal peace disappears, and I whirl into action to sort everything out as quickly and efficiently as possible, as if I am above the struggle, and don’t need anyone or anything to solve the problem that I am facing.
Behind these perfectly, positive thoughts is actually anxiety and fear. These two emotions are what I battle the most on a typical day and what I run from fairly consistently when I am not at peace. The “real” thoughts behind these emotions are the lies, “that I need to figure this thing out and that I can’t depend upon anyone but myself.” I also believe in these moments that, “I need to do everything by myself to sort out the situation because God isn’t trustworthy or faithful and I am not worth showing up for.” The fear that drives all of this craziness is that I am not enough, which I’m not (but He is), and also that I am unwanted and unworthy.
As I have explored these emotions that I battle and the root of them, I have been working on identifying the truths that I need to stand on to transform my mind and stop running from these emotions. I also started my studying the opposite emotion- peace. As I turned over the emotion of peace in my mind I discovered something that was pretty impactful. Peace isn’t just an emotion. Peace is a person. Peace is Jesus. And I knew immediately that when fear and anxiety started to show their face in my day to day life that I immediately stop walking with Him and looked to myself for answers, strength and solutions.
Peace is the very first attribute spoken of Jesus before His coming and some of the very last words of comfort He gave before He ascended to heaven. As the “Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6) we walk with Him when we fix our thoughts on Him and believe that His intentions are good. Our trust in God- that place of deep, inner peace- comes from resting in what we believe to be true about Him. In moments of difficulties, its the presence of a trustworthy person who sees us, cares, and will not abandon us that we trust in and when we don’t believe this we get scared that we have to do it all by ourselves.
What’s amazing is that without the storms of this life we have no need for peace. Storms, struggles, and battles are a gift. It’s in the storms of this life that we get to practice our faith, learn to walk with Jesus and be dependent upon Him, and love others in the process. When we courageously meet the storms of this life WITH Jesus head on, hand in hand with Him, we will lose only the things that need to die- sin, pride, negativity, criticism, selfishness, resentment, self sufficiency, old mindsets- all of the things that hold us in bondage and keep us from being who God has called us to be… the things that need to die so be we can be fully alive in Him. Your battle is leading you to life.
This awareness has led to to three questions that I have been asking myself when I stop walking with peace and start getting anxious or afraid in the battles of life:
1.) What do I need to let go of, surrender, or release into His care?
2.) What lie am I believing that contradicts His truth?
3.) Are there any memories or past traumas that He is wanting to heal?
These questions lead me to the discover the parts and pieces of me that he is wanting to transform with His grace and redemptive love. These questions are revealing the areas that I need to grow in and are an opportunity to further surrender my life into His care. When the scary giants of fear and anxiety roar within my soul, I can hide from them with “perfectly positive thoughts” or embrace these empty voices, examine them without judgment and allow them to shine His light on the place of my soul that He is wanting to shape and mold into beauty and dependence upon Him. These opportunities, when embraced, are making room for Jesus and carving out a place within us for Him to dwell in even greater capacity.
Trials and suffering are the ancient path that lead to dependence on Him and are the catalyst to transform and align your mind with truth itself. If you aren’t walking in complete freedom and total peace with Jesus, He, in His grace and mercy, is providing an opportunity to identify the areas of your heart and mind that He is wanting to redeem, heal, and rescue. For those that are pursuing this path of recovery and transformation on their journey with Jesus, there is a slow exchange from the old to the new happening within you. This exchange is the process of releasing the unhealthy mindsets and the behaviors that follow and reaching out for God’s help and life changing truth in order to be free and full of the joy that is yours as a birthright as a child of God.