It’s October. We’ve decorated for fall but we’re focused on a December wedding. To be honest, I have been a heap of nerves up until the last week of September and then God granted me extraordinary calm and all that I needed.
But I guess I need to back up.
Here, in North Carolina, we are a battleground state for the presidential election. Battleground is an apt nickname for a state where votes can be swung to make a difference in any election. But especially this year. It’s been ugly, really ugly. In more than three decades of voting, I have never seen things so disturbing.
I’ve felt pretty alone, probably because I’ve isolated myself. Being a writer is isolating. Having been a pastor, I know that isolation also happens when you must keep confidences and remain neutral.
But it’s not just writers or people in ministry. We all can get isolated. We change jobs, move to another state, have a baby while our friends are still childless. Or maybe we’re just hiding away like any good introvert, cutting ourselves off from people and issues in order to not be stressed out.
This season of stress, many of us are also dealing with loss. Many have discovered their core values don’t mesh with people they thought were like-minded. Friends are unfollowed, unfriended right and left. Families are left wondering who is going to be at the table for Thanksgiving. It’s tough. It’s easy to be anxious about the days ahead.
31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.
Anxiety and isolation are not good companions. I reached a point in mid-September where I was praying daily for more friends with whom I could discuss what was on my heart. People who I could share my experiences with, who I could learn from, who could support me in my work and I could support them especially in the area of racial justice.
33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
Sure enough God sent those people, teachers who believe Christian love is the way to reach people, prophets who believe like I do that we must clearly state when we see unchristian behavior that is abusive toward each other, saints who seem to be able to handle all occasions with grace. They weren’t just companions but challenged my thinking on isolating myself as a way of protection, who support my belief in racial justice, who encourage me to listen to those who oppose my beliefs, who are helping me find compassion and understanding I was tired of seeking. They guided me to seek what God is calling me to do and be in this time. Now, through these new companions and old friends, I’m finding that too as I try to open my heart a little more.
34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. Matthew 6 ESV
“Do not be anxious about tomorrow.” Ouch! I read those words and realized how hung up I was on looking ahead to November’s election and beyond, losing my peace and not focusing on the wedding count down each day ahead. I had been so focused on things I couldn’t control (couldn’t figure out what to do), I wasn’t enjoying all the gifts of love, peace and joy of this special family season. What I had been seeking was only part of what God had in store for me. There were the gifts God had already set before me. I wasn’t seeing them. But my eyes were opened wide.
Gifts I sought, I received. Gifts I’d already received, I saw. Gifts I didn’t want, I accepted. Gifts that weren’t mine or not needed were returned. I am at peace with who I am, who I will be, and the days ahead.
What are you seeking this season? What have you received you weren’t expecting?