Psalm 34:4 “God met me more than halfway, he freed me from my anxious fears. ” (MSG)
Some days I have a strong sense of anticipation. I revel in this feeling, because dread has often been a knee-jerk reaction for me. Rather than feeling abnormal because of this knee-jerk reaction, I am learning to think a little differently.
For example, sometimes I work in the garden, wear my gloves and still get blisters or calluses on my hands. Certainly, to see myself as abnormal because I have blisters and calluses would be an odd way to think and a waste of emotional energy. I wore the gloves to protect my hands and I worked very hard to build a beautiful garden. The blisters and calluses are simply the natural result of long and hard work. So is the gorgeous garden.
In the same way, maybe like me, you have lived through a time where (because of someone in your family) the only thing that was predictable was that life was going to be unpredictable. Probably like me, you got some “blisters” along the way. Interestingly, because of how I was wired together, not many calluses formed. It was an extremely insecure way to live and dread became a very real part of my life. I did walk in faith, yes. But I also knew that with each upswing, there was a crash of some kind coming within a very short period of time.
I didn’t walk around dreading the next crash, because I was somewhat of an optimist who was ever- believing that God was going to change things. However, once the downswing occurred, there were many types of dread as I lived repeatedly through the results of someone else’s difficult behavior. Few weeks ever went by without some kind of mood swing, drama or unnecessary but very real crisis. Some were very large, some were simply hurtful.
So now, in a better season of my life, as comedian Bill Cosby sometimes says, I am learning to “re-behave”. I am beginning to rethink knee-jerk dread when it comes and when I find myself anticipating something, I am learning to revel in it. When I realize I am unnecessarily dreading something, I ask God to walk me through my wrong thinking. I have high hopes that one day my strongest (and first) reaction will be that I look forward to every new thing that comes my way! I am “looking forward to looking forward” to every little thing! How exciting is that?
Anticipation is fun all on its own, but experiencing it more often as I practice and pray, builds powerful hope in me. When anticipation slips in, I have learned to pray that God will allow me to keep it and to learn to walk in it.
Part of the key is consciously choosing different thought patterns by remembering that God is busy on my behalf. If I dwell on the ways that God has my best in mind, fear and dread do not conquer. It doesn’t mean you and I won’t have moments of fear and dread, but it does mean that we can more quickly move back into the peace and joy of anticipation, because we know we can trust His hand with our past, present and our future!