Freaking Out

Stephan N. Tchividjian

I am assuming that you are either experiencing profound peace or a level of anxiety that you find almost unbearable. Perhaps your reality is dictating these emotions. You are deeply devoted to your country, your church, your career, your circle of friends etc. However, your emotions are affected by the latest news, a text, a conversation, something you read or simply what side of the bed you woke up on. Sometimes these thoughts and feelings may vary by the hour. Therefore, how in the world are we supposed to lead a normal, healthy and somewhat meaningful life, in the midst of so much noise and uncertainty?

I am reminded of a night of unexpected chaos that Lisa and I experienced several years ago. We were enjoying an evening with some friends at our home, which at the time had a small dock on a canal.  The evening was pleasant as evenings with friends can be. The moon was full, and the tide was high. The children were playing outside, around the pool and down by the dock (supervised I might add). We heard some commotion and my youngest daughter came running through the house yelling at the top of her lungs, “I’m freaking myself out, I’m freaking myself out, I’m freaking myself out.” Running right behind her was one of the other little children, joining in the pandemonium. We, as good parents, immediately reacted to the situation and investigated. We were under the assumption that all was safe and secure. We were unaware of any danger lurking. What was causing the fear? What did the children see? What happened on the dock?

Fear of the unknown

We investigated the “freaking out” situation and came to realize that while the children were playing on the dock, the high tide had caused the water to slap the underside of the dock, which to an adult would only be a nuisance because our shoes could get wet. However, to a child, the slapping sound of water hitting the dock could only be because something or someone resided underneath the dock and that something or someone had decided to make itself known to these “little food sources.” We were quickly relieved that there was no danger and that this situation was actually quite funny. Our evening resumed its normal rhythm. However, for the rest of the night, our little girl would not take her eyes off of Lisa, often saying, “I’m keeping my eyes on you,” not wanting to lose any contact with her hero, bodyguard and savior… the one that makes it all go away.

I have a tendency to “freak myself out” for any and all kinds of reasons.  Sometimes it might be a financial pressure, sometimes it’s a health scare, something at work, an election, a relationship with a loved one, a temptation or an unexpected disappointment or loss. I sense that sometimes I respond to something that isn’t even real. Perhaps there is a valid concern or lurking fear, however, how I respond to that concern is telling. 

 

Keeping my eye on you

Webster’s defines freak as “a sudden and odd or a seemingly pointless idea or turn of the mind.” Therefore, “freaking out” can be when this pointless idea affects our behavior. I am often made aware of my self-imposed “freaking out,” and that usually means that I am no longer relying in my secure relationship with God. I sometimes take a detour and my imagination has me to believe that God has finally realized who I really am and has abandoned me (perhaps I have abandoned Him). I am often embarrassed because the incident exposes a weakness in my character, in my maturity and in my ability to better respond in those unexpected moments. Perhaps I missed some signs, didn’t listen well or simply ignored common sense.  

I find it interesting that once the incident at our home settled down, the behavior of our daughter was to never leave Lisa’s side and to always, “keep my eye on you.” I can’t help but believe that the greatest anecdote to these types of situations is to never lose sight of our Savior. You remember Peter walking on the water and “keeping his eye on Jesus.” Yet, as he was distracted by the situation, he quickly took matters into his own hands and immediately found himself sinking. I do that, I take my eyes off of Jesus and immediately sink in despair, discouragement, disapproval and other kinds of dis……..  

Perhaps we are in danger of doing that as Christians. Perhaps today we find ourselves distracted by the latest headlines, breaking news story or some social media feed. We can often be guilty of not looking at Jesus while we scream, “Jesus, please save us.” I also have to ask, that when we are asking Jesus to “save us,” what are we asking to be saved? Seriously, think about that. Are we asking that Jesus save something temporal or eternal?  I remember one time hearing a statement that had caused me to ponder. The statement was, “people are not as interested in how you became a Christian; they are more interested in why you still are one.” How would you answer that? Is Jesus a path for me to access my way of life? Is Jesus my buddy and feel good partner? Is Jesus my Lord or my lucky charm?

I have found that in order for me to not “freak out” I must be intentional to “keep my eyes on you.” I think that it may sometimes appear to be overly simple, perhaps a little soupy, but honestly, it’s all I have. Peter didn’t have a lifejacket on. He was committed. He was out there on the water, and the only thing he had going for him was Jesus in his sight. I keep Jesus in my view by surrendering every day. I can’t simply will my devotion to Him. I’m incapable of that just as I’m incapable of flapping my arms and flying. I try and spend time with Him every day. I desire to be in a constant mode of prayer (mostly listening), and I must be willing to obey Him. Talk is cheap, and that is not what God has asked of me. I must take time to devote to this most important of relationships.

 

Shielded from overload

One final thought, in the Garden of Eden, mankind was tempted by Satan to question God’s mandate to not partake of the tree called the “Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.” Perhaps God is demonstrating His desire to shield me from overload. He created me with a limited capacity and when I try to process all the unknowns of my life and live outside of my capacity, I will find myself in a place I’m not supposed to be, and I easily “freak out.” I must be quick to acknowledge His presence and His provision. Therefore, perhaps we can all learn a little from my daughter and from our friend Peter. Perhaps both demonstrated courage to venture into the unknown only to realize that the situation was beyond them and they were easily in a situation where they were “freaking myself out.” Therefore, let’s make sure we are “keeping our eyes” on Him who actually sees what we can’t see and promises a peace that we can’t create.  

 

Stephan N. Tchividjian is the president and founder of the National Christian Foundation South Florida. Visit southflorida.ncfgiving.com to learn more.

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