We live in a world ridden with anxiety; people who are anxious, filled with fear, worry, and doubt, suspicious of everyone and everything, and quick to defend or take action against any perceived wrong, any questioning of our beliefs. All searching, looking, wanting that some ONE thing that we hide in our heart of hearts thinking that if we have it then we’ll be satisfied. We look for it in people, in possessions, in power, in money, in business, in education, in every conceivable nook and cranny in the world. We flip over every card in the deck, buy lottery tickets for the power ball, fill casinos to the brim, bet on every game, horse race, and athletic event in hopes of hitting it big, and then when we do – if we do – it’s on to the next thing.
Some of us – all of us – have been successful in our lives, on some level, perhaps at just one thing, at one time, but we’ve all experienced success. Some of us have been successful at a great many things in a multitude of areas, and yet we still want more; are still anxious; uneasy, fearful, afraid, unsure, only to ready to believe that it can all vanish in a millisecond. We live with that nagging, shadowy voice in the back of our minds that says “this isn’t enough.” “Better work harder,” or some such thing.
Like the gerbil on the wheel, we keep running through the routines of our lives scarcely taking notice of the people and things around us, and then when we do stop (though we don’t really) it’s never a complete stop – just a slowing down – a switching of gears, and we call it relaxing, taking time off, but it’s really just taking away time from something or someone else. We don’t dare stop, not intentionally at least, because to stop – to stop completely – creates a vacuum, an empty space, a place in which, just maybe, another voice can be heard, a very faint, very far off, voice that says wait. A voice that very softly asks us in that rare undefined moment “Why are you doing this?” That with each beat of our hearts says, “Is this all there is,” and saturates each breath we take with the rhythmic “why can’t I be satisfied?”
We live with the “I wants,” “I have to have’s,” and the “I can’t live without’s.” Then when we feel the pain (and there’s always the pain – though we deny, hide, avoid, and disavow it – it’s undeniably there) we do everything in our power, use every means at our disposal, to try to kill it, to get rid of it, and yet it’s always there. Entertainment, sports, illicit drugs, and alcohol are the great narcotics we use to deaden , dull, and desensitize our hearts and minds to it, and to the voice, the very gentle, very soft, very forceful voice that keeps repeating the questions – the ones we can find no satisfactory answer to – that haunt us in the most importune moments.
We live in a state, a country, a world of anxiety. We worry about worrying. We live in, with, because, and in spite of it. Yet we don’t do any of them well. Why anxiety? Why this unease, this disquieting spirit, within us? Perhaps the answer lives in the silence of those very rare moments, in the solitude of reflective thought, in the quiet contemplation of creation, in that lone voice that speaks to us all at one time or another. Perhaps, as gravity holds us to ground, as an anchor steadies a ship among waves, as a compass guides on an unknown path, the answer lies in the connections. I’ve often wondered and thought of anxiety as a disconnect for isn’t that in reality what it is? Can any musical instrument play beautiful music when it’s out of tune?
We look at anxiety as a bad thing, but as in so many things, definition is determined by design. It is said that anxiety is the handmaid of creation, that all art, in part, stems from it, and I can see where that might be true. Yet, I also believe, that anxiety serves as a herald, that it rides on our hearts and minds as Paul Revere rode through the darkness of night warning and giving notice to those who would listen that something was amiss and not right.
As any electrician knows the power goes out when there’s a disconnect, and I believe that’s what anxiety is to the human being. It’s a failure to connect. As a christian, I know that my power to live comes from my connection to Christ, and it’s in my relationship with Him that I find and am connected to the source of my strength.
Here’s some food for thought:
The beginning of anxiety is the end of faith, and the beginning of true faith is the end of anxiety.
Anxiety is a thin stream of fear trickling through the mind. If encouraged, it cuts a channel into which all others thoughts are drained.
Arthur Somers Roche.
An average person’s anxiety is focused on :
40% — things that will never happen
30% — things about the past that can’t be changed
12% — things about criticism by others, mostly untrue
10% — about health, which gets worse with stress
8% — about real problems that will be faced
100% of the above can be alleviated and resolved through prayer.