Anxiety is contagious. When I am anxious about something, my posture and mannerisms will put people on edge even if I haven’t said anything yet. Oftentimes, though, I don’t even realize I’m having this effect on people because I don’t realize the effect anxiety is having on me! Anxiety affects my behaviour before I realize it’s affecting my behaviour!
Anxiety is fast-growing. My imagination is capable of taking existing facts and creating all sorts of scenarios with negative outcomes. Just because something happened badly in the past, I’m quick to assume that it will always happen the same way in the future, even if other people tell me how they experienced a different outcome.
Anxiety is ubiquitous. Every transition I make – whether from work to home in the afternoon or from Telkwa to Rock Valley in a couple months – comes with anxiety. Both big changes and little changes throw things up in the air, reducing what I can control and increasing my anxiety.
These are things I was reminded of during one of the presentations at the recent Sustaining Pastoral Excellence pastor couples retreat Monica and I recently attended in Vancouver. We were also reminded of the apostle Paul’s cure for anxious hearts:
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.
Interestingly, in the context of these verses, Paul pleads with two of his friends – Euodia and Syntyche – to resolve a dispute they are having. It sounds like an anxious situation to me. So Paul’s words addressing anxiety are being spoken into an anxious situation.
I believe it worked for Euodia and Syntyche.
I think it will for me, too.
Graphic from anxiety-symptoms-relief-secrets.com.