Friday, January 4, 2013
I've lived in an emotionally wrenching world riddled with anxiety for far too long. I am on the verge of paranoia constantly -- the most bizarre things will manifest themselves as answers to the most simple things. For instance: if the phone rings, my first thought is (always), some horrific thing has happened, and the person on the other end of the phone will be sobbing incoherently when I answer it. These sorts of worries plague me daily, minute by minute, and I'm exhausted. I've often wondered why I feel so fatigued at the end of a day, even on days when I've not had to work, when I've been physically rested. It is this vicious, useless anxiety and I've had enough.
Repeated exposure to something reinforces whatever the 'something' is, like a Pavlovian response. I've been allowing myself to have the same response each time to these anxieties, and all it's done is reinforce my fears and concerns, pushing it to the point of a repetitious paranoid hum. So the answer is, quite simply, to reprogram myself with a different response.
The bottom line is this: either my fears are/will be true, or they are not/will not be true. My worrying is not going to change the outcome a single bit. My obsessive-compulsive need to ask the same questions over and over will not change the answers. My sharp intake of breath when the phone rings is not what prevents the horrific thing from having happened to the person who is calling. It either happened or it didn't.
There are literally hundreds of places in the bible where God tells people not to be afraid. That's comforting to me, because it means I'm in good company. I'm not the only one who sometimes worries herself into a stupor for no good reason. For instance, Isaiah 41:10 says, “Do not fear, for I am with you; do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you; surely I will help you! Surely, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.”
That doesn't mean that bad things aren't going to happen, of course. It's an imperfect world filled with imperfect people. It means, however, that He's there with us. Whatever our fear, whatever our sadness, whatever our storm -- He's next to us in the rain with an umbrella. Instead of fretting over the storm, we need to scoot over next to Him and stay dry.