|meme from the internet|
In my case, I would love to stop having such anxious reactions to certain things. I can go into fearful, “what if” kind of thinking so easily and spin in my mind the most hopeless scenarios. Generally speaking, I’m a decent problem-solver, I can be very adventurous, and I’m not afraid of change and readapting to circumstances. As a teacher, I'm happy and quick-thinking, hard to "rattle." But when something kick-starts my anxiety, I can’t think very clearly. And if someone is looking to me as an example of faith and trust, I can display pretty good "head" faith but my heart is often filled with care.
My first memory of a panic attack is from first grade, so this trait is likely rooted in events I can’t remember. I was the only child of sometimes unhappy parents, who looked to me even at a young age to bring happiness to their lives, but even at a young age I knew my parents’ unhappiness was far beyond my personal ability to solve. It’s easy for my emotional meter to go into “what if” mode or a self-critical mode.
If your emotional traits are too deep to “let go” definitively, whether by therapy or will power, at least you can know yourself. In my case, I know not to mistake anxiety for a definite danger signal. “Don’t believe everything you think,” is a meme that was going around social media this past year. Just because I’m feeling distressed doesn’t mean that the situation is dire. Plus, none of the fearful “what if” scenarios I’ve emotionally concocted over the years have ever come true, nor has worry ever solved a problem. The most difficult situations are those that came out of left field (and then worried-about, LOL).
My mom was a worrier, and unfortunately she eventually gave up on certain things that gave her pleasure, like reading and travel. “It just makes me too nervous,” she’d say. On the other hand, she met life's challenges with remarkable perseverance and courage, adapting to difficult circumstances in spite of her struggles with anxiety. I hope and pray I’m always inspired never to give up. A few years ago I spent our UK-Ireland vacation period in a mood of very high anxiety, but it was because I was driving a British car for the first time. That’s typical of me: jump in and try things, help get things done, live with few regrets, but worry worry worry all the while.
I would love to be a person who meets all challenges with an upbeat optimism, which are qualities of my wife and daughter. I’ll keep working on it, just as I hope you (who is reading this) will work on your inner “stuff” during this upcoming new year. Some resolutions are things that we'll work on year after year, with God's help.
On one of my other online sites, I compiled Bible verses that have always helped me. Just as a child needs demonstrations of love from a parent, or as a lover requires reminders from the beloved, so we need expressions of God's love, like these words originally addressed to God's people, which we may now read for God’s assurance:
When you pass through the waters I will be with you;
and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
and the flame shall not consume you. (Isa. 43:2)
Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten in God’s sight. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not be afraid; you are you are of more value than many sparrows (Luke 12:6-7).
Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for bread, will give a stone? Or if the child asks for a fish, will give a snake? (Matt. 7:9-10).
Cast all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you (1 Pet. 5:7)
Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (Phil. 4:6-7).
For if we have been united within him in a death like his, we will certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his (Rom. 6:5).
For the Lord will not
Although he causes grief, he will have compassion
according to the abundance of his steadfast love;
for he does not willingly afflict
or grieve anyone (Lam. 3:31-33).
Since, then, we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need (Heb. 4:14-16: also Heb. 5:2).
Not that I have already obtained this or have already reached the goal; but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Beloved, I do not consider that I have made it my own; but this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on towards the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us then who are mature be of the same mind (Phil. 3:12-15a).
I’m often amazed at how many times the scriptures tell us not to be afraid. In Luke 2:10, the angels tell the shepherds, Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of a great joy… In Matthew 28:10, Jesus tells the disciples, Do not be afraid… In Luke 24:38-39, Jesus tells the disciples, Why are you frightened, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? Look at my hands and my feet, see that it is I myself … In John 20:19 and 26, Jesus declares, Peace be with you… Earlier in John, Jesus says, Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid (John 14:27). I have said these things to you, so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete (John 15:11).
Nothing in there about panicking and freaking out….