I’m an anxious Christian empath. And I know I’m not the only one. If that’s you, too, let’s talk.
It’s about the unintended message of shame I feel like I’m seeing everywhere—maybe you’re seeing it, too.
It’s telling me I’m screwing up by letting all of the pandemic fears and frustrations get to me, instead of just handing them over to Jesus.
And, I have to be honest and say sometimes it feels super hurtful when I see texts or social media posts telling me to just calm down already and read my Bible again because God’s got this.
Wait, though. Hear me out . . .
Do I believe God’s got it?
Do I know He will ultimately weave good from hardship, tragedy, and suffering?
And do I believe with my whole heart the pain of this will pass away altogether one day, less than a blip in our joyful eternity?
I sit with these thoughts daily. They’re very real to me—they’re true and absolute.
But it doesn’t help my heart when my hurt is met only with “just trust God.” It doesn’t help my anxiety when people suggest I should “stop worrying and start praying.”
My friend, I’m already praying. I’ve been praying all along.
And I trust Jesus wholly and completely. I trust Him to create love and beauty and good out of all of this collective fear and trauma. I trust He doesn’t cause bad things to happen. I trust He is walking right beside me (and you) through it all.
But, truth be told, trusting God never equated to being spared the pain. I trust God, and I still know people are dying. I know people are scared. I know jobs are being lost daily, depression is hard to beat in isolation, and we’re all missing our families. I know survivors of domestic violence are stuck in their homes with their abusers around the clock. I know this isn’t the last time we’ll have to do this, and I know I’ll willingly do it as long as I need to, despite the challenges and the overwhelm. I know so many are feeling called to make great sacrifices.
I know ordinary people are unsung heroes.
And I know most people are suffering right now, under all kinds and degrees of circumstances. This is neither due to a lack of trust in the Lord nor caused by a loss of His grace or favor.
So, I don’t think it’s fair to tell people just to trust their feelings away.
I’d rather sit with them (from afar) and pray compassionately if that’s what they want. I’d rather tell them their feelings matter—that they’re allowed to have them and still be faithful. I’d rather let them know how good, and kind, and extraordinary they are. How proud God is of them for working so hard at whatever they do and for showing such love to their neighbors.
Truly, we are made in Christ’s image, so love is inherent within all of us. We were created to care for one another. And that, for me, is life’s most important calling.
In other words, I don’t need to be personally impacted on a life-or-death level to be wrapped up emotionally in the stories of the people who are. I don’t need to know them to know how much they matter. We’re all connected in this intricate pattern inside of Christ, and every single stitch is precious.
I’m saying that I trust God, but I still feel all these things deeply.
I’m still present in the reality of what it means to be human—much like Jesus, who was both “deeply moved and troubled” (John 11:33) after the passing of Lazarus. He knew it would be OK—within moments—and still, He wept. Still, He felt compassion for Martha and Mary. Still, He acknowledged the gravity of the human experience.
Telling me not to worry only makes me feel like I’m failing Jesus. Like I’m just not faithful enough, no matter how hard I try. Like He’s disappointed in me because I acknowledge the hardships of daily life in a pandemic.
But I know that’s not the message Jesus Himself is sending me.
He intimately knows my hurting heart. He truly empathizes with my fear, my confusion, my frustration. And yours, too.
And when others follow His lead, it makes all the difference in the world. I’m empowered by the “heaped in love and grace” messages right now. I’m holding out for the “Jesus has been there, and He gets it” texts. I want the “handle it how you need to—you’re a rock star, and you are loved beyond measure” posts.
All I need is for my feelings to matter.
I’m only hoping to be heard and seen and maybe a little bit understood.
I want to draw nearer to Him because He loves me unconditionally. There is no room for shame in His presence.
And I know many others feel this way, too.
So, sister, if that’s you, please know: Jesus understands your sorrow and so do I.
He knows that to fear is your nature. He doesn’t want you to experience the pain of grief and worry, so He’s simply offering to let you give it to Him—to put the weight on His shoulders and let Him carry it.
And if you’re not quite ready yet? He’s still there, walking beside you patiently, even while you fumble with the worries you’re clinging to so tightly.
That’s just the way of people who love each other.