“God knows better than you what you need.”
I felt like my head hit a wall after reading the above quote in my notes. My mind and heart were feeling discomfort; I had an instant headache and felt a quick, stabbing pain to the heart. I remember sitting on the couch, late in the evening. My husband was watching TV, and I was browsing through my phone. I was feeling anxious about finances, work, and my mile-long “to-do” list. I’m fairly certain I wouldn’t admit to being an anxious person until recent years. I always presumed my feelings of being overwhelmed came from placing too much stress on myself to be a high performer. And, accompanying those feelings was my bestie: Worry.
When these feelings present themselves, I enjoy looking up Bible verses applicable to my current state. While Googling, Pinterest-swiping, and thumbing through my Bible, I find some rest reading God’s Word. The truth found surrounding His Word often brings me back from the brink of an overthinker’s cliff. That evening, I felt compelled to reread some of my phone notes I had recorded from church recently. I don’t even recall typing out, “God knows better than you what you need,” so as I read the quotation, it was like I was hearing this information for the first time. The words hit me hard. Worry has encompassed my professional and personal life too well. Understanding that God knows everything I need and when I need it wasn’t a new concept for me, but recognizing that this takes intentional effort on my part was a new insight. Not only focused intention would be necessary, but consistency, too, if I were to fight these feelings.
I have been a registered nurse for 14 years. I worked as a student nurse on a toddler unit at a children’s hospital my last two years in nursing school. When I graduated with my B.S.N., the toddler unit didn’t have any openings. I interviewed for an infant unit and started there as a fresh new graduate. I also have spent time in a pediatrician’s office. Somehow, I landed in a newborn intensive care unit. I have been blessed to care for tiny miracles for almost 10 years now, and I would consider it my niche.
Throughout my training in nursing school, I have been taught to anticipate the worst-case scenario. I need to be prepared for anything, prevent everything and remain in control of my patients’ bedside care and outcomes. While caring for sweet, bitsy babies brings many humbling experiences, a deep sense of achievement, and feelings of such happiness, the personal characteristics needed to excel at providing safe and effective care can seep into everyday life all too easily.
My general personality is already controlling—I’m always planning and preparing—and I’m a tad pessimistic. (I use the term “tad” loosely!) Add all those years of worry, anticipation, and a high-stress environment to my underlying temperament, and I become my own worst enemy instead of a loving nurse. You see, in my professional life, I question in order to learn, I question to be thorough, I question to protect my patient, but I do TRUST my own skills and intuition and remain positive.
In life outside the hospital, I struggle. I overthink my finances, rearrange my schedule constantly at work to facilitate the family needs (or what I think they need), and worry non-stop about EVERYTHING. (Will I get my PRN shift? Will a sitter be available? Can I make it to all the activities on the calendar? Am I getting enough sleep? Did I feed my kids healthy food? Did we get in our 20 minutes of reading with the kids? You get the idea.)
So, when I read, “God knows better than you what you need” that night, I had an intense reaction. Like I mentioned, quick bouts of pain. My head throbbed with the idea that I was trying to control, plan, and worry about it all. My heart hurt knowing I can fail at any, and all, of it. After just a few short moments, I felt like I could breathe. A breath so deep I had forgotten what it felt like. Then, the pain subsided, and I cried silent tears, hoping my husband didn’t notice. I want to be viewed as a tough woman—a woman who can handle anything. Unless I’m fooling myself, I think I am perceived as such.
But my husband, Monte, he knows the layer of toughness is just that: a layer. I know Monte knows I carry the weight of the world on my shoulders. Monte knows my family and friends being happy is a true necessity for my own happiness. Monte knows I worry constantly. Most of my worry involves the overall welfare of others. Why did I hide my tears from him that night? I didn’t want to make HIM worry! Because…I worry! Sounds so ridiculous as I type it! Welcome to a few seconds in my mind! (Like many other women, I presume!)
The Lord knew I needed His Truth that evening. I was crying in disappointment—upset knowing it makes perfect sense that the Lord knows what I need more than I do, but I doubted his teaching. Way too often, I doubt it. I can’t say I consciously choose not to believe Him, but I know I have feelings of fear. I was crying because the feelings of inadequacy were a reflection of where I didn’t trust God. I am not an accident or incidental. I was created with a purpose, for a purpose, in Christ. I cried knowing while I was worshiping my worries, I was not worshiping my Creator. I had to acknowledge I am preoccupied with failure. I knew worrying about my problems brought my worship to earthly things, not my everlasting Father.
Furthermore, if deep down, I trust God with my eternal life, why can I not trust Him in my finances, work circumstances, and other seemingly meaningless woes compared to where I will spend eternity? My tears slowed, and peace encumbered me. I could feel the nudge from the Holy Spirit; my “a-ha” moment had come. The thought of surrendering every day to God, every tiny detail sounds so easy to some people, but for me, I knew I had challenges ahead. I felt the Holy Spirit set the need for prayer on fire in my heart.
I began to consider each time I had a worry to send it to Heaven in prayer. Effortless, right? Remember, I’m a recovering pessimist, full of anxiety. I would need to retrain my brain. But, what if I turned my worried inner chatter into a conversation with God? It’s fair to assume my bucket would be filled with hope, no longer drained by all the holes each worry bored into the bucket. Likely, I would become more positive and faithful, as well. The endless reel of concern would no longer be on replay. If uncertainty appeared across a ticker tape inside my mind, I had to quickly send it to God in prayer and hit the delete button. I know many of you have heard the phrase, “Have you prayed about it as much as you’ve talked about it?” Consider the challenge accepted!
I don’t remember how much time has passed between that night until today—maybe a few months. I still battle with the surrender of my doubts. I DO know my inner speak is softer in tone and quicker to remember all that God has provided when problems arise. I spend more time in prayer now than I ever have. I have far more Bible verses memorized about worry to equip myself when anguish lurks about. Some of my favorites are:
Philippians 4:6 “ Turn your worries into prayers”
Psalm 73:26 “When all else fails, God doesn’t”
John 14:1 “Let not your heart be troubled.”
I’m also learning to walk a fine line between being controlling and being prepared, and I’m learning to have faith and let go. And I’m firmly believing this quote from William McGill: “The value of persistent prayer is not that He will hear us, but that we will finally hear Him.” (Amen.)
Christ before me and behind me,