So many people seem anxious. Have you noticed?
In the last couple of years, people in general seem really wound up. A whole laundry list of reasons is contributing to this anxiety – politics, social media, societal changes, the economy, the Redskins. Everything.
When we get anxious, it is very easy and very natural to respond to that anxiety in all kinds of unhealthy ways. For the Christian, though, this is an opportunity to see God work in and through oneself.
When you feel that anxiety coming, remember these words of Jesus:
“Therefore, I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? … But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matthew 6:25-33).
In addition to trusting God, I want to suggest a couple other techniques. First, only worry about what you can control. Essentially that comes down to one thing – how you respond to any given situation. None of us can control outcomes or people, but we most certainly know the One who does! So, let go of any notion of trying to change others.
Second, know what problems and challenges actually belong to you. When people are anxious, they will attempt to “hand off” their anxiety to others. Have you ever been sitting quietly at home when suddenly, the door opens and one of your family members starts yelling and fussing? You find out through snippets of conversation that something happened earlier in the day that has made them anxious, and now they are spreading the joy! Learn how to let go of the problems that truly do not belong to you.
That doesn’t mean we are insensitive to the problems of others. An empathetic word may go a long way to helping them get calmer. Instead of trying to fix them or their problem, try saying something like, “Sounds like you are having a tough day!” The other person will feel heard, and you will not become more anxious.
Worry chokes out joy, and we have so much to be thankful for, even when life is challenging. Seek God first, and don’t try to control other people or other situations. You’ll find a great deal more peace!