When I don’t want anxiety to be my first response, I try to imagine myself taking the advice of desert father, Abba Moses. “Go to your cell and it will teach you everything.” In other words, sit in the anxiety with God until the Holy Spirit guides your first response.
Of course this is easier said than done because it requires waiting on God. This kind of waiting is more like staying with. Imagine staying with God until patience and kindness rule your heart rather than irrational jealousies, boastings and pride.
It is not easy to stay. It is taxing to wrestle with my shadow side, especially when I am so tempted to execute any one of the exit strategies my heart, soul, and mind formulate. And it is challenging to know if I have stayed long enough. When is it time to leave the cell? Unless we ask, we won’t truly know.
Recently, I started a conversation with God about whether or not I had stayed and loved well throughout a tough ministry assignment. When I heard God’s thought and not my judgment, I knew I had. “You did love well because you faithfully stayed with me.” As I considered these words, I realized I had wrestled with God and let him win.
I had a choice; we have a choice. If we leave too soon, chances are we will discover ourselves back in the same or a similar cell. By staying, we receive the wisdom and strength to love beyond our cells and our anxieties.
Love is patient, love is kind.
It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
~1Corinthians 13:4 (NIV)