Wednesday was time to practice.
For days God had been hurling information at me about my unhealthy need to get approval from people, and I was taking notes as fast as I could. Then it was 4:00 on Wednesday afternoon, two and a half hours before I would teach a room full of about 50 Awana kids and a half-dozen adult leaders.
I could feel the now-familiar, oppressive anxiety settle over me, and I thought, Wow, I didn’t realize how messed up I had become.
I started to have those thoughts I had been rehearsing every time I taught this class or wrote a blog post or spoke in front of people, What if it’s stupid? What if I mess up? What if they think I’m horrible at this and they talk behind my back after it’s over? What will they be thinking while I teach?
But this Wednesday I went in with new information God had taught me, so when the anxiety started to suffocate me (that’s what anxiety feels like), I started rehearsing the NEW:
- I am an unworthy servant in the kingdom of God, but I am privileged to be a servant, nonetheless. I have been approved by God to be here teaching.
- I am here to serve Christ, not to please these kids or these adults.
- I will share the gospel (imperfectly, most likely), and that is where my responsibility ends. The response of these children and adults is not in my hands.
- If anyone responds to the gospel, it is because of the power of the gospel and not because I’m that good of a speaker.
- Fix your eyes on Jesus. Fix your eyes on Jesus. Fix your eyes on Jesus. Fix your eyes on Jesus. Fix your eyes on Jesus. Fix your eyes on Jesus. Fix your eyes on Jesus. Fix your eyes on Jesus. Fix your eyes on Jesus. (See Hebrews 12:2)
When the kids tumbled into the room and the adults followed, I could not believe the peace I felt in my spirit for the first time in…forever. Blessed freedom!!! I could breathe, and my stomach wasn’t in knots.
I shared the gospel.
Several kids raised their hands and prayed to follow Christ. (This I accredited to the power of the gospel and not to my own amazing teaching skills.)
And when the lesson was over I mentally walked through my new mantra again. “I am an unworthy servant. I have only done my duty.” (See Luke 17:10)
Anxiety is a habit.
We get into certain situations and respond the same way every time. It’s not until we learn an appropriate biblical response and choose to practice it in the moment that we can be freed from anxiety.
We have to see the anxiety, stop rehearsing the old, and start rehearsing the new. It’s a mental exercise of obedience.
Are you ready for change?