I was scrolling through Instagram this past weekend when I saw a post/video from novelist Nadine Brandes. She was talking about acne she had dealt with after a virus during college. It was all across her face and she said many people would offer unsolicited advice or make awful assumptions about it. She eventually developed a deep depression over it because nothing worked to remove it — not medications or creams or expensive medication. All those things did was make her sick.
She said that one day she started to cover the mirrors in her house and began to focus on Jesus and her relationship with him. She stopped trying to take care of the problem herself. She wrote under the short video she posted that she never actually figured out what the source of the acne was, but one day, she began to notice it was fading, and then it was gone. She wrote, “All I can say is Jesus. Jesus removed the stress, the anxiety, and the shame. I think peace affects our bodies just as much (if not more) as creams.”
I could relate to her story, not because I have ever had her acne, or even because of the frustrating health issues I do deal with, but because I have found myself focusing too much on situations, people, and my perceived failures and not enough on Jesus many times.
Most recently this focus has come in the form of trying to figure out how to build a following for my books so I can earn a little extra cash to help my family financially, but also because I enjoy sharing my stories. I started checking off all these steps that “experts” insist you must do to be noticed on social media. I created an author page and group on Facebook. I searched for ways to increase interactions and followings on Instagram. I tried to do everything that was being suggested without totally driving myself crazy since I had walked that road before and ended up with a near mental breakdown.
I’ve learned there is nothing wrong with building a following, either to help promote your work so you can support your family or to get the word out about something you’re passionate about (like your faith in Christ), but if it is replacing your relationship with Christ then it will bring you more misery than you were prepared to handle.
Nadine’s post was a reminder to me to step back again, lay it all in Jesus’ hands and not worry so much about followers or sales or anything other than my relationship with him.
He’s the ultimate provider and all my hard work means nothing if I don’t lean into him and let him lead.
This is something I will have to remind myself of over and over again because so many of us know how it should be and we do fine for a while but then life — argh! Life gets crazy or scary or crazy scary again and we lose our way.
We forget to trust.
We lose focus.
We get distracted. It is in those moments of distraction that we have to be reminded of what we had committed to in the past, which was focusing on Christ and letting him take care of all that weighs us down.
Doing anything other than that will not only frustrate us but make us sick, mentally, spiritually and even physically.
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7