When I was in college, I had a tattoo idea. I’ve always loved Philippians 4:6-7 — “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” — so I thought it would be neat to get it tattooed on the outside of my thumbs. The idea was that when my hands would come together in prayer, Philippians on my left thumb would be joined with 4:6-7 on my right, and I would be reminded that God is in control. I also thought it would be sweet to get it tattooed in my now-husband’s handwriting, an idea I ran by my 6th hour students from my student teaching semester to make sure it wasn’t lame. They LOVED it. I even ran into one of those students last year, three years after that conversation, and he asked me if I ever got the tattoo.
Frankly, I haven’t done a lot of things I said I would, or that I’ve felt God call me to do, but I’ve experienced a lot of other things in the meantime, sometimes for the kingdom and sometimes for my own selfish desires. I took a 2.5-year hiatus from social media, I cursed and gossiped, I quit coaching cheer, I lost some friendships and built new ones, I made exercise a daily priority and lost 47 pounds, I started reading the Bible all the way through, I started a masters program, I drank too much several times and paid for it the next day, I saw my first class of freshmen graduate, I said hurtful things to my loved ones, I made it through a global pandemic, I got the sister (in-law) I always wanted, I had conversations about Jesus with some people close to me and completely missed opportunities for others… and the list goes on.
It was so sweet of that student to remember my tattoo idea, and I wish I could say that despite never getting the tattoo, I’ve kept Philippians 4:6-7 close to my heart. Verse 6 is easier for me to remember and attempt to apply — don’t be anxious and give it to God. Verse 7, though, I’ve left out and even replaced with another verse a time or two. At community group one time, a friend was sharing how Philippians 4:6-7 spoke to him that week, and I was excited because that’s my life verse. I began quoting it, but when I got to verse 7, I said, “And He will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalms 37:4). My friend looked at me and said, “Oh, really? My version of the Bible doesn’t say that.” He wasn’t trying to be rude or put me in my place, but that interaction has stuck with me because I had my “favorite” verse wrong in my head. God gives us the desires of our heart, yes, but that only happens when we align our hearts with the Lord, taking delight in him, which is the first part of Psalms 37:4. It’s not as easy as telling God your fears and him taking them away because that’s what you want, which is what my version of Philippians 4:6-7 boasted.
If I’m being honest, that was over a year ago, and I haven’t made it a priority to memorize the real Philippians 4:7. Meditating on it this week, though, I’ve realized that verse 7 is the key to everything that’s been missing in my life. The peace of God is something that cannot be understood, yet it’s the one thing that saves you and ultimately makes followers of Christ different. It’s the verse that you would never say to your friend when she tells you her loved one just received a devastating diagnosis, yet it’s the one that perfectly explains why everything is going to be okay. It’s the verse that explains why followers of Jesus continue to worship through troubled times. The peace of God is what you see in the people you admire in this life.
In my adult life, my anxiety has skyrocketed, and I’ve coped many ways, including going on walks and runs, talking with trusted friends and family members, self-medicating with alcohol, occasionally journaling, seeing a counselor… and while most of those methods are not unhealthy or bad, they’re not God’s best for me. If I truly give my worries and fears to God through prayer and gratitude, Philippians 4:7 tells me I should feel God’s peace. I’ve been hanging onto control in my own life, only giving God bits and pieces when I’m comfortable.
God’s calling on my life is this blog, and I know that deep in my soul. The older I get, the more I push it away. In conversation with a friend a few weeks ago, she made a great point that as we get older, sin isn’t so much doing something terrible that even someone of the secular world knows not to do as they grow up; sin as an adult follower of Christ is oftentimes saying no to God’s call… Disobedience. Out of fear, I’ve been saying no to God when it comes to this blog.
I’m scared of negative feedback. I’m scared I won’t have time to blog regularly. I’m scared of what the people I love who are not followers of Christ will think of me. I’m scared that real people in my life will want to have real conversations with me about what I write here and I won’t be able to find the words to say. I’m scared of how this blog could affect my teaching career. I’m scared of losing my day job with a stable salary and benefits. I’m scared of the wrong student or parent finding my blog. I’m scared of being called out for not living up to someone else’s expectations. I’m scared of one of my loved ones telling me this isn’t a good idea, and instead of affirming God’s calling on my life, affirming my own fears. I’m scared of falling back into the same social media habits I wanted to detox from at the end of 2018. I’m scared that I’ll do more harm than good for the kingdom.
Here I am, though. Obediently blogging. The verse I’ve tied to my blog is 1 Chronicles 16:24, “Publish His glorious deeds among the nations. Tell everyone about the amazing things He does.” God has called me to obey this verse, but I’ve let anxiety stop me despite having this platform waiting for me. My prayer as I post this is that I will feel God’s peace as He guards my heart and my mind from all of my previously mentioned fears. And I pray that you will follow me and keep me accountable to God’s call on my life.