I had moved to a new state just a few days into 2020. This move was a dream I had kept tucked away for nearly 10 years. Each time I’d visit the state, whether it’d be a work trip or to visit friends, I’d fall in love with it even more—the people, the lush trees lining sidewalks, the rolling hills in the distance. Crossing state lines with my moving truck in tow meant an exciting chapter was just ahead. While unloading the moving van, it hit me that I had finally found myself living within the walls of that long-awaited dream. The anticipation of the good that was to come was a feeling I didn’t want to shake.
This, I thought, was hands down, going to be a very memorable year.
I would consider myself somewhat of a planner. I had many months to plan the big move. There were the 10 years of dreaming and then when I decided it was time to move, there were eight months to make sure I crossed that state line successfully. My plans for this move were well thought out—there were spreadsheets, a handful of to-do lists and color-coded documents. I was prepared and had every detail in order. I knew exactly what was coming down the pipeline and when. I knew because it was on page 4, line item 5 of my spreadsheet . . . highlighted in yellow. There were no surprises to anticipate, no speed bumps to slow down the process and if there were, there was enough margin to iron it out.
Several weeks into my move, things were starting to fall neatly into place. I felt a mountain-top accomplishment as I unpacked my last box; I was soon adding dinner dates with friends to my calendar; I found my go-to grocery store with the cashier that will know my name; and my gym routine was solid.
I had everything just how I liked it—under complete control.
It was a few short weeks later when things in our world began to shift. Rapidly. There were many what-if’s and maybe’s. And I think so’s and too soon to tell’s. Fear of the unknown began to creep in through our television screens, hand-held devices and topics of conversation. There was a cloud of uncertainty that lingered over head. That uncertainty led to fear of the unknown. And with it came an overwhelming sense of instability for so many.
I had no back-up plan or spreadsheet for the months ahead. As I scrambled to find my footing with the state of our new reality, it was easy for my thoughts and fears to topple me over. I kept a close account of the views behind me through my rear-view mirror while fearing the possible days ahead.
Fear and anxiousness began to speak louder with each swipe or turn of the channel. I had well-curated fears with plot twists and finales that Spielberg would find award worthy. I had projected so far into the future about what I thought was to come and there were rarely any Hallmark endings.
I had to make a decision to either settle into this constant state of fear or get up, dust myself off and fight.
It took some time to realize that I was worrying about a future without God in it. When we worry about the future or have anxious thoughts about what may be ahead, we’ve put ourselves in the driver’s seat of our life and fixate on a future where God’s presence doesn’t exist.
I had to pivot. Quickly. I had to place God where He belonged—in the middle of my anxious thoughts.
We have to have laser focus on Him and not the noise that’s swirling around us. Envision Him at the center of that storm calming the winds.(Mark 4:39) Picture Him standing in the middle of your fear or worry. Add Him to the story and don’t leave Him out of your plot twist. Because the truth is, He is always with us, intertwined within our day. (Josh 1:9)
Be mindful of what you allow to have influence over your thoughts. Be vigilant in protecting your mind. Recite truths that speak directly to the fears you’re battling. Write them down, engrave them on your heart through memorization. Speak them aloud until you’re tired of hearing your own voice. And when you’re tired of hearing your own voice, keep going. It takes discipline. It may even be a fight but your thoughts will begin to shift. The truths you’ve planted and watered will begin to take root. Soon, the peace He provides—the peace He promises—will speak louder than the thoughts that will try to keep you up throughout the night. (Check out Psalm 4:8 and John 16:33.)
It will be louder than the worry. It will be louder than the fear. And you’ll find that it doesn’t make one bit of sense. Peace and calm in the middle of a pandemic just doesn’t make sense. But you know that with God, it doesn’t have to. (See Philippians 4:7.)
And then remind yourself of each and every time you’ve seen the hands of God intricately weaved throughout the smallest of details in your life. The times when you knew if He didn’t show up, there was just absolutely no way. Fixate on that. On His goodness. On His promises. Keep your mind focused on Him. (See Matthew 8:24-27.) Listen to me when I say, the God that showed up in that impossible situation a year ago is the same God that will be waiting to shower His unwavering peace and love on you today. He is the same loving Father that is waiting to save your day as well as all of your tomorrow’s.
Nicole Staples’ love for all things creative can be felt in several facets of her life—from her hiking trips in the mountains to her graphic design and photography projects. She has a passion for seeing the message of Christ shared through creativity and is grateful to be able to share her gift of seeing beauty in every project and setting she finds herself in. Nicole recently moved to Franklin, TN but still considers Dallas home! Connect with Nicole: Instagram