I don’t know how your brain organizes stressors, but I’m a swirly-thoughts kind of girl. All the things I have to do, all the things I need to plan, all the things I may want to write later, all the things that just plain annoy me, intertwine in this cerebral cyclone. Ibuprofen cannot touch it.
You can tell when the twirling strands of insanity exceed my mental capacity to cope because then I start clicking my teeth, the latest in a lifelong series of fun anxious twitches. My husband has suggested electric shock therapy, which is his way of being helpful. I prefer lists.
When I put things on a list, they magically disentangle themselves from my brain, exactly like the memories in Albus Dumbledore’s penseive. But really, a list is just a bandaid. Too many things on a list, and the list itself can weigh on you. If you have ever completed a task NOT on your list, then written it down just to check it off, you know you are in my List Addiction Camp.
My mom recently started a Bible Study on trusting God. This popped into my head while I was taking a walk, one thought in a parade of them, and I suddenly realized that trust is the root of this whole list thing. In the list I trust.
When I write something down, I can cease to worry about it because it is as good as done. At the very least, it can’t be forgotten. That’s why a pen and pad are always by my nightstand, to ward off the late-night worry spree. But trusting in myself and my notepad and my Klonopin (well not really) is not a permanent solution.
Trusting God with my whole heart is so much harder than making lists, though. I think I know why. Take this most obvious of “Trust” verses: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and he will direct your paths” (Prov. 3:5-6). Well, the first part sounds good. I would like to hand off my problems to God just the way I do to my list. But the payoff is hard; ultimately, I want to direct my own paths. See, when I pray for peace about a situation, that’s just what I’m asking for. Peace, not a solution. I probably already have a great solution or three worked out in my head. I just need something to take the edge off while I get the work done my own way.
Maybe at the core of every anxiety-ridden girl is a little control freak, wishing on God as on a distant star. And maybe it’s just me. But God is demanding. He asks me to give up control just when I most wish to cling to it. You can do that when you’re God. I just hope He never asks me to give up my lists.