When Anxiety Revs Up
One of the greatest challenges of our lives is learning to deal with our anxiety. Most of the time we try to ignore it by keeping ourselves busy. This is why protracted times of forced inaction can generate spikes in anxiety which manifest themselves through negative thoughts, insomnia, irritability.
I like to think of anxiety as the engine of a car. All goes well as long as the engine produces just the energy required to generate the right speed. If, for any reason, you start pressing on the accelerator while the clutch is on neutral the engine starts generating more energy than needed, it becomes noisy, burns fuel uselessly, and sometimes revs up.
Anxiety is the surplus of energy we need to face challenges which are real and present. The problem starts when the challenges are only potential or imaginary or in a distant future. There is nothing present here and now on which to pour the surplus of energy - worries become very noisy in our head, we can’t relax and sleep evades us.
In these cases Jesus’ advice is simple: are you anxious about something? Look at the birds of the air and consider the lilies of the field (Matthew 6.26-29).
This might be a metaphor but I take it literally.
It takes just few seeds on the window sill and whenever I feel anxious I can divert my attention on the many birds coming and going with growing confidence. They teach me that there is joy in simply being alive.
Flowers are part of the essentials of my weekly shopping. They show to me that there is beauty in simply spreading fragrance and radiating colour now.
Our Father in heaven has given us creation as a prompter that very discreetly keeps suggesting to us that we can afford to stop worrying about tomorrow for a little and feed on all the life, beauty and joy on offer today. Anxiety will come back of course. But then, well, press repeat.