I drove away from home this morning leaving my Macbook on to upload a large video file that would take two hours. Suddenly, a few miles from home, panic railroaded through my nerves. “The computer, it’s been overheating more than usual, oh my gosh, it’s sitting on my bed, the house is going to burn down.” I imagined rushing home to fire engines hosing down my flaming house, running out of the car screaming, “my cat, my photo albums, my computer with all my files...”. This elaborate scenario continued until I arrived at the library where I’d planned on working for the day, realizing I just created a whole story from my irrational, angst ridden mind.
Anxiety can be like the constant jack hammering just outside our bedroom windows, our nerves knotted and contorted like Woody Allen and Sigmund Freud playing Twister. We avoid our anxieties with favored distractions like Netflix, You Tube, Google, or a bottle of chardonnay and bowl of potato chips. Yet, in the end, they fare no better as avoidants than closing our windows on the relentless machine gun metal to concrete jack hammering on the street outside.
I often find peace from anxiety by recalling relevant scripture such as St. Paul’s words, “Don’t be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God”.
Yet, at times, the anxiety thunders just too loud. Its incessant voice gnaws on my insides like a hungry, tired, teething, weaning baby sucking the last drop from from his momma’s raw nipple, wordless wails crying out, ‘I need it, I need you!”
When free floating anxiety starts taking over my inner peace, I’ve learned to create time in my day to stop and listen to what it has to say. Anxiety, I’ve learned, holds wisdom.
Just recently, with pen to journal, I wrote:
“What is it you want”?
It answered me, “What are you doing, you’re running around with all these projects, you’re spread too thin”.
Then it proceeded to tell me that “I forgot Jesus, his teachings and practicing what I write about”. Everything I’ve studied and try to live over the years – Jesus wonderful words, “I tell you, do not be anxious about your life”, his instructions, “come to me, walk with me, follow me, you are cared for and provided for, peace is here”, all drown out by a free floating anxiety masked by my overdoing. It turns out as always, by taking on too many projects, I’m seeking to fulfill an unconscious need to prove something to myself, yet really avoiding an emptiness within that only God can fill.
Ah. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything pray, give your requests to God, and be thankful. St. Paul went on to say, that once we do this, there’s a pay off.
He continues, “then the peace that surpasses all understanding will guard your heart and mind in Christ”.
In Christ. In the steadfast, divine wisdom behind the cloaks of our anxieties.
How interesting the Greek word for anxiety, merimena means separated from the whole, or dividing a fracturing a person’s being into parts.
It separates us not only from ourselves, fragmenting our minds and lives into scattered shards of glass spread across our precious days, but most vital, it cuts us off from the source of a divine life, the peace of all peace of God and the ability to enjoy the moments of our lives.
In Proverbs we learn anxiety weighs us down.
When we set apart time to listen to the truth behind our anxieties, we begin ending the pull toward irrational fears, numbing addictions and fruitless distractions.
I encourage you to start a dialogue with anxieties plaguing your life. Set aside sacred time with pen a paper, poised with an attitude of gentleness toward yourself, and begin a prayerful request. Simply ask your anxiety, ‘what is it do you want?”
This simple practice stops the angst train, allowing Godly wisdom to speak the truth into our lives.
And remember always, in everything, pray, request and petition for your needs, and give thanks.
And peace will come.
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