Here in Florida we have been awaiting a hurricane. Hurricane Dorian to be exact. The waiting has been the most difficult part. Today is the day. The day we will face wind and rain. Not a hurricane thankfully, for it’s path has led away from us. Leading up to today many may have wrestled with anxiety. This has had me thinking…
Anxiety, at it’s core, can be related to a feeling of being out of control. The unknown. Something we really can do little about.
Have you ever felt out of control?
Silly question right?
Being human is all about being out of control.
The weather this week has reminded many of this.
All the panic evidenced by vacant water shelves, empty gas stations and bread-less grocery stores justified by memories of weeks without power or winds which downed trees has perhaps led to being prepared but not by any means did that preparation move that storm out further into the Atlantic. Our fear may not be unfounded however the anxiety becomes destructive upon speculating, projecting and ruminating over things over which we have no control.
The point is we have to learn to discern which things we can do something about vs. those things over which we can do nothing.
Once we have done the thing we can do, (buying water and filling the gas tank), we have the choice to then rest in the fact we have done all we can and now we wait…we wait and recognize all is left is an invitation to trust.
Trust is the opposite of anxiety.
It is helpful when anxious to use a simple prayer. A prayer which has been around for a long, long time and is spoken in unity at many a group of anxious people seeking to live in the light of the Spirit.
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change. The courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference. -Reinhold Niehbor
When my grandmother died years ago I lost something of monumental importance to me. The thing was, even in the midst of believing in God and the afterlife, I had no reference point for this. She was just gone. Gone. And life went on. I felt completely and utterly out of control. I began having panic attacks. I could not control myself. My trust eroded due to my questions and uncertainty. It was as if I was grasping for concrete answers which would assuage my feelings of being out of control, my anxiety. Again, I believed in God however I couldn’t know where she was exactly or what she was experiencing. On top of this I would never be in her presence on this earth again. This led me to addictions of all sorts, which is in essence a form of control…”you won’t alleviate my suffering? Well, I will. I will gain control even if all that means is controlling the way I feel” Like standing outside in the middle of the hurricane and telling it to go away.
Ultimately my quest for control led me to surrender. My clenched fist and determination to be in control beat me down like hurricane gusts take down hundred year old trees.
And thank God it did.
Now I recognize anxiety as a call to examine why I feel out of control. Once I get to the bottom of it I breathe. I ask what may be done about the thing. I ask for help, do it, and then rest. I breathe. I have peace in the midst of chaos.
The storm is here. I am hunkered down with my family binging Stranger Things and eating way too much food, however I am at rest. I know that God is ultimately in control. Disaster does not mean the end. Disaster means humility and a chance to rebuild.
Anxiety is real. It is not in your head. The trick is to figure out why the danger signal is going off and if there really is anything you can do about it. If you can, do the thing…then rest.
The storm will pass and the sun will come out again.