Learning to Listen
Updated: Jul 19, 2021
The world is a really, really noisy place. Between social platforms, news channels, emails, work, text chains, and advertisements screaming at us from every corner, it can be really hard to take a step back and listen for God’s guidance in our lives. When the pace of the world screeched to a halt last March, I thought it would get easier to focus on Him and His path for me, but really, it only got harder - which is where I found myself a few months ago, desperately trying to handle life all on my own.
I should preface, I’m some what of a control freak. Slightly OCD, very type-A, you know the drill - I’m the type of person who would rather do the group project myself than hand it to someone who might mess part of it up. Which also means that, for as long as I can remember, I have always struggled with giving control over to God, even when it’s glaringly obvious that I need His help.
Let’s set the stage for my life up until this point: I am the oldest of three daughters and was raised to be independent, problem-solving, and a leader in all situations. I made good grades in high school, worked hard in college, and graduated last spring by opening my mail one day to discover my diplomas neatly tucked into an envelope. By the time I could say I had actually completed my college education, the world was in lockdown, and I found myself spending more time with my thoughts than I ever had time to do before. Would I still be able to start my job? Would my offer be rescinded? Where would I live? How would I pay my bills? The anxiety I never paid attention to suddenly reared its ugly head and made its presence very known.
Instead of turning to God, I tried what the world told me to do - fix it myself. I battled my anxious thoughts by filling my time with work and watching TV/scrolling on various social platforms with my roommate, who became family very quickly in those endless weeks of staying inside our tiny apartment in Dallas. I tried doing meditation, breathing exercises, reading self help books, and other efforts to try to keep my thoughts at bay.
By the winter, I was ready to explode with all the bad news and fear and these efforts had given me minimal progress with conquering my mind. It wasn’t all-consuming, and many parts of life were wonderful - like my sweet now-fiance’s presence in my life and my wonderful support system of friends - but the feelings hung over me like a wet veil, always there and dampening many moments.
I was going through some things one day and uncovered my Bible, which had sat untouched for a few months. I picked it up, cracked it open - and peace washed over me as I read through Matthew, soaking in the words of hope and love and sacrifice. As I read, I felt reaffirmed in the knowledge that Jesus’s love for us outweighs absolutely everything in our lives. God hadn’t abandoned me - I just hadn’t been listening. I had been trying to solve it all myself, when right in front of me was the roadmap to happiness. And the best part? It’s not something I have to fix. God heals us and loves us because we are His, and even though we actively do things each day that directly go against His guidance, He loves us just the same.
I’m not saying that my anxiety disappeared that day, but I can say that leaning on God has made that journey look completely different. No longer do I play through every possible scenario in my head, stay up late thinking about all the things that could go wrong, or worry about what tomorrow will bring. God has quieted my mind because I am learning to stop and listen to Him, not the world. I am so far from healed, but I know that God is working in me and helping me grow stronger to battle the struggles that life will inevitably throw my way.
One of my favorite verses of all time is from Matthew. It’s one that I read that day in December, and it’s one that I repeatedly come back to. I’d like to share it with you as I close:
“So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will take care of itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” - Matthew 6:34
As amazing as it has been to go through this journey alone, it’s been compounded by being in a circle of people who understand and see each other. This is why Chosen and Free is so wonderful, and why you all are so blessed to have such a great environment in which you can learn, struggle, and listen together. I pray that each and every one of you continue to be able to open up your hearts and minds to God, because WOW is He good!