Most of the good things in my life have felt like they didn’t come on time. My friends praised God when they got the text that I came out of anaphylactic shock in the ER as a nurse gave me a shot of epinephrine for an allergy I suddenly discovered I had in my thirties. They rejoiced when my life was spared from major injury as my car was miraculously cushioned by a small construction guardrail after spinning out of control on a busy Florida interstate. They celebrated God’s provision when I was in graduate school and He provided the exact $3000 I needed to pay for my final semester three weeks before it started. While I celebrated with them, a part of me was left asking: Couldn’t You have come sooner?
Some people blindly trust in the Lord’s kindness, but I often find myself in an anxious state of hypervigilance, waiting with a mustard seed of hope to see if God truly sees me. I have felt much more connected to people like Abraham, whose provision came as he lifted a knife above his son’s body to sacrifice him, or to Sarah, who remained childless for ninety years until her womb was filled. I can’t imagine either of them feeling wholly grateful for their journey, though God showed up for them both, in the nick of time.
One of my best friends truly believes that God is good, and lives her life out of the freedom that comes from resting in His kindness. She recently talked to me about how her optimism in God’s favor helps her move into the world with the surety of His faithfulness. She is a strong woman of faith who has known deep suffering. She lives with integrity, attempting to honor her needs and boundaries with others, and yet she does not share in my hypervigilance with the Lord. I have always admired how she remains connected with honest integrity to her suffering, while maintaining a deep belief that God is good.
I’ve started to wonder if my hypervigilance keeps me from freely resting in the arms of the Father and moving with confidence into the world.
Throughout their development, children require certain attunement from their parents in order to someday mature into stable, independent adults. Psychologist Erik Erikson defined that between birth and 1½ years of age, children are faced with learning to trust or mistrust the world and people around them. If a child’s caregiver meets their needs with consistency and stability, they learn that they can trust their needs, themselves, and the people around them. If a child’s needs go unmet, or unpredictably met, anxiety and mistrust can develop. I am silenced as I ponder how pivotal our earliest moments in this world impact our ability to rest and trust.
As I’ve gotten older, I am grateful for the ways my hypervigilance has helped me navigate the world. My frequent scanning of environments and ruminating before making decisions has kept me out of harmful situations and relationships. However, I also believe it is out of God’s kindness that I’m invited to experience redemption while navigating my relationship with Him and others. I am starting to believe that fear does not have to remain my closest companion—that perhaps my body’s anxious need for control can find rest in a Father who remains true to His word.
And on good days, I trust the truest narrative of my life: Jesus comes. He came when I was a baby, afraid to rest in this world. He came when I easily could have died twice in my adult life. He came when I had a deep financial need. He comes because He loves me.
I find comfort alongside people of the faith like Abraham and Sarah who muster up enough courage to hold onto a shred of hope that God is good. It’s that faith that helps me persevere, believing that in the end all things truly will work for good, regardless of my fear and struggle to rest. While I practice offering kindness to my fear, I hope to nurture and protect the younger parts of me as they continue to develop new schemas for what it means to have my needs met by a good Father who always acts with love toward His children in the face of their suffering.
Devan Grayson is passionate about contemplating the beauty of this world as she finds it in her own story and in the lives of others. She loves good conversations, ultimate Frisbee, writing, and hiking. She works as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, and is continually struck by the specific beauty woven into the seemingly ragged details of our lives. She counts it a privilege to wonder with clients about their own stories.
I resonate with this piece because God is often revealed to me at the eleventh hour, although sometimes it feels like the thirteenth hour. Why didn’t God intervene BEFORE something happened? I tell God I would have “read the book,” but I know myself well enough to know that I dive in, sometimes before I fully consider the consequences, and then God intervenes or rescues me.
Devan, I read your honest reflection with a mentally raised hand. For as long as I can remember, anxiety, hypervigilance, fear, doubt, and rumination have been close companions. The way you relate this paradigm of seeing the world and God Himself to our core attachment styles makes perfect sense. Perhaps it’s in remembering what God has done for us in the past—how He showed up, even if His timing felt “too late”—that we can begin to trust His goodness toward us. May we draw on these past provisions as we loosen our grasp and “stand down” just a little bit more each day. Thank you for your candor.
As a fellow hyper-vigilante, I can really relate to this!
I myself often wait until the 11th hour after much contemplation. Why should I expect God to be different? My head knows He is faithful and always on time. Sometimes my heart has trouble catching up.