If you are reading this via Facebook, know that I am not on Facebook for the remaining days of Lent. If you want to respond please do so on the blog page otherwise I won’t see your words.
Been a little under the weather, too, this week so today’s post comes on Saturday rather than Friday. Hopefully back to the schedule next week.
Continuing Friday (Saturday) Lenten reflections…. today I turn to Lent and anxiety. A subject I know well. Anxiety more than Lent.
This Lent has brought to light how anxious I am and always have been. I have never been a calm person, even when I appeared so. I have always been anxious even in childhood. I don’t understand the roots of this anxiety but it is there. Fretting. Worrying. Over-thinking. Some of us are predisposed for a variety of reasons to such anxiety. Some of us experience trauma that instills it in us. Most of us are anxious and driven at times by that anxiety.
We are anxious about being left out. That we will fail. About our status – with another person, in a group, in the broader strata of life. Anxious about how someone feels about us. We fret about the future. We worry about the outcomes of decisions or mistakes made. How anxious are you?
Lent can help reveal the depths of our anxiety. In sacrificing something, we have an opportunity to reflect on our hungers and drives. Longing for chocolate or coffee or social media helps us stop and look at what drives our decisions, our reactions. Acting out of our commitment or decision is a different thing than reacting to our urges or drives. Awareness of what drives us allows us to give this to Christ and to allow the Holy Spirit to shape our drives and hungers in different directions.
As I am thinking about my interactions with people online, in person, over time I see this anxiety in bold letters. How many times I act (react) out of my anxiousness instead of wisdom, charity, or grace. I could name specific people and situations over the last few weeks that would have been different absent anxiety.
This is not just Christian-ish pop psychology. Or a God of Therapy made in my own image. Anxiety is addressed in the Scriptures. For instance, Paul tells the church at Phillipi:
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
(Philippians 4:6-7 NIV)
The antithesis of anxiety is peace. And a peace that “transcends understanding:” a peace that is greater than the very powerful and very real sources of anxiety. An anxiety against which God can safeguard us if we allow.
Paul’s advice is prayer. Lest we find this trite, it means hard work. It means working to put the outcome of things in God’s hands rather than our fevered and painful imaginings. It means believing that God’s imagination of what can be is greater and better than we can manage even at our best. And often do at our worst.