This post was pretty much expected. As soon as I started this blog, people were telling me, "yeah the good stuff is nice to read, but if you want to be real, don't leave out the bad stuff." Guys, I just want you to know, I'm going to be honest with you this year. I'm not going to sugar coat anything because, breaking news, ministry is hard. Totally rewarding, but can also cause fear and anxiety to bubble up inside of you.
As the days inched closer and closer to my first proper day as intern, I found myself more and more anxious. Each meeting I've sat in over the past few weeks have been completely exciting but in the middle of each meeting, I found myself thinking, "but what if." But what if this doesn't go right? But what if the students don't agree with that? But what if I'm not able to do this? But what if I let everyone down? But what if my pants rip on stage? But what if I'm not as good at this as that person is? But what if, but what if, but what if.
It's totally human to feel stressed and anxious about things. It's inevitable and a totally crappy part of life. It really makes its way into your mind and no matter how hard you try, a lot of the time you find yourself indulging in it as it slowly takes over your body. It's not fair that it can just lurk there and haunt you when it pleases. Sleepless nights, overthinking, wanting to quit half way through a meeting because yeah sure, this is exciting stuff we're planning but suddenly I just don't want to do it anymore. It's all totally human.
One thing that worried me was coming straight from being a student, to being the youngest member on staff. That in itself made me feel inadequate because everyone else is so much wiser and experienced. Another was thinking that I wasn't capable of leading a band of 10 students and being a role model to not just them, but the entire school. Another was thinking I wasn't able to do the tasks assigned to me and failing miserably. Suddenly this job that I was so excited about entering, became a burden.
That frustrated me because in my mind, I wasn't sure why I had such a negative view towards something I had been working towards for a while now. Why was I suddenly against the idea of bringing teens closer to the Lord? Why was I suddenly against the idea of watching people I love grow in their faith? Why was I suddenly anxious about growing myself? What (or should I say who, Satan I see you dude) was turning my passion into what I suddenly thought was a chore?
Thankfully God pulled me out of all that. He placed rest on my heart, and I found myself more excited than I was before. It's amazing how your whole attitude can be flipped around within a couple of days. I felt as if I was being pulled away from the Lord, and that terrified me so I called out and as soon as God heard, He pulled me in and I had never felt so relieved. I did not want to enter ministry with a cold heart and anxious soul. I knew that wasn't what God wanted from me, and I wasn't prepared to let my year go downhill. I decided then, this will be my year. Or more so, God's year.
I love the way The Message version translates your typical Isaiah 41:10 verse. Starting at verse 8, it says;
"But you, Israel, are my servant.
You're Jacob, my first choice,
descendants of my good friend Abraham.
I pulled you in from all over the world,
called you in from every dark corner of the earth,
Telling you, You're my servant, serving on my side.
I've picked you. I haven't dropped you.
Don't panic. I'm with you.
There's no need to fear for I'm your God.
I'll give you strength. I'll help you.
I'll hold you steady, keep a firm grip on you."
'I've picked you. I haven't dropped you.' That's my favourite line. God's got a plan for each and every one of us, we just need to place our trust in Him. God opened this door for me to glorify Him and help Him further His kingdom. He wouldn't have given me such an important role if He didn't think I could handle it. He picked me, He hasn't dropped me, He doesn't want me to panic, He's with me. He'll give me strength, He'll help me. He'll hold me steady, He'll keep a firm grip on me.
That's so important to remember. Whenever you're feeling anxious, overwhelmed, or stressed, turn your face to the Lord. Whether you're in ministry, education, medicine, or any other field of work, lift your burdens up to the Lord - He will help you through. If it's your personal life, do the same. Not once in the Bible does it say "worry about it," "stress over it," or "figure it out." But over and over, it clearly says, "Trust God." God's not going to leave you hanging. He will hold your hand and help you through it.
So next time you're feeling anxious, pray. Pray that God will help you and fill you with peace. I know for a fact He won't let you down. Remember that He's picked YOU. Not your neighbour, not your brother, not your best friend, He picked YOU because He believes you're right for whatever you may be doing. He's not going to let go.
That, I can promise you.