“Be anxious for nothing.”

Be anxious for nothing. Fear not.

Jesus tells us to not worry, not be anxious. So what does it mean to not be anxious? Be perfect? We can’t be perfect. That isn’t possible for humans. And trying to not be anxious makes me anxious. I get all wound up about how wound up I feel, and then I wind myself up even more.

There has to be another way through this or into this.

Both my parents were anxious. My Mom lit up a new cigarette every twenty minutes. When she had to quit because she got lung cancer the anxiety was still there. In fact it was worse.

Her coping method had caused her problem. When we took it away she was of course worried and anxious about her cancer, but she didn’t know what to do. She’d reached for a cigarette every time she felt the least twinge of a bad feeling. She still had all the anxiety that she had before she had cancer, with the added anxiety of cancer on top of that. It overwhelmed her.

I stepped in. I gave her massages every time she wanted to smoke. I gave her some creative visualization techniques to try. We worked on breathing. In the end she still felt that she needed some outside means to calm down, so she got put on Valium. It wasn’t called Valium – it was Elavil. Same thing, new name. It was a benzodiazepine. I find it interesting that she didn’t want to take her pain pills because she was afraid she would become dependent on them, but she happily took those mood drugs.

My Dad was the same way. He smoked himself to death too. He was on various drugs from his shrink as well. He was constantly nervous. He too didn’t know how to deal with his feelings.

Perhaps anxiety is “normal” for my family. Perhaps it is the same as needing glasses. Perhaps it is hereditary in the same way that being short is.

I am anxious. I have been for years. I used to smoke pot and clove cigarettes to calm down. I finally decided I needed to grow up and quit doing these dangerous and expensive things, so now I drink a glass of wine with supper instead.

I have other stress-busting techniques. I walk. I work out. I do yoga and write and walk and draw. I used to do most of those every morning before work. Then I’d not do all of them because I was running short on time and I’d freak out and think I was slacking. Somehow I got to the point where I’d realize that just trying to cram all those activities in every morning was causing more problems and more anxiety.

Funny how the things we do to relax can end up causing us more problems.

So I prayed.

And I got back that perhaps my anxiety isn’t something to be anxious about. Perhaps it is who I am. Perhaps I need to face it and embrace it. See it as a gift and not a problem. Perhaps God needs me to feel this way, and is using this feeling as a pathway, an opening.

Perhaps I need to see my “anxiety” as not a problem, but just a feeling. Or perhaps see it as the same as my need to wear glasses, or that I’m shorter than the average person. It isn’t a defect. It is my normal.

God doesn’t want us to compare ourselves to anybody else, either good or bad. God loves us exactly the way we are. God made us this way.

Be anxious for nothing. Fear not.

“I’ve commanded you to be strong and brave. Don’t ever be afraid or discouraged. I am the LORD your God, and I will be there to help you wherever you go.” – Joshua 1:9