I have had a chance to look back over my life so far a lot, since we moved here. One thing that has become overwhelming clear is that many of the problems that I had in my lifetime were actually just the same problem over and over again– my personal issue with anxiety, guilt and worry. I have begun to notice how frequently a small unpleasantry, be it a comment from someone else or a change in plans I’m not prepared for, can spark a cyclical pattern of worry that I find very hard to get out of. One that I almost seem to relish, that I keep my brain in all day. One that I keep trying to “solve”, not realizing the worry itself is the problem, not the “problem”.
There are many people who struggle with anxiety disorders. At this point, I don’t think I have something like that and I don’t intend to speak for someone that may be battling such a diagnose. I have known many people who benefited from professional help for anxiety and depression and I would encourage anyone reading this who may need such help to seek it! I am only writing this to speak to my own personal experiences and where I’ve found some of the roots of these thoughts to lie.
I suspect that if you are someone who has known me well, you are nodding your head when I confess I struggle with daily worry. Everyone seems to know I do, I just didn’t acknowledge how constant worry was in my life, until recently. Now that I think about it, I actually remember my kindergarten teacher calling me a “worry wart”. Also, Sung and I have been going through the copy of Oswald Chamber’s My Utmost for His Highest my parents gave me for my sixteenth birthday– and found I underlined and marked significant portions of an entry on worry— more than I marked on any other page. I wrote things 14 years ago in that book that seem to mirror the exact thoughts I still have regarding worry today. But, still, this problem floated under my radar.
There are a few reasons I think I finally became aware of this habit.
1. It got worse when I met Sung. All my life I have been dreaming of meeting “the one” and when I realized he was the one, the only one forever, that put a heck of a lot of responsibility and pressure on this relationship, to live up to all of my expectations of what marriage should be like. And it was not so much worry that he was not right in some way– it was worry that something I did would be wrong and ruin this thing I have wanted for so long.
2. Then we moved and I’ve had a chance to be myself in a new context. It’s funny how my life got so much easier– some major stressors like my schedule, finances, and job decreased in difficulty– but my anxiety level increased. I began to see that I was worrying but not about things that I really needed to worry about. It became funny– except I still couldn’t stop and I didn’t know why.
3. The Holy Spirit convicted me of real sin in this sermon given by Pastor Walt at our church last month. I have always known that if I was worrying I was not trusting God. But I had never really evaluated that more deeply in my own life. I had cultivated a lifestyle of constant unrest. I kept thinking, “Well once this problem is over I’ll be at peace”. But then something new came up and I’d be anxious again. Now, I have come to realize that, in Christ’s power, I am able to live a lifestyle of peace regardless of my circumstances and that is what I am now seeking to attain.
My favorite part of the sermon is that our pastor points out Jesus’ words: “But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?” (Matthew 6:30) It doesn’t say “O you with lots of problems.” In the past, I have always attributed my stress level to the problems in my life. As those have changed shape and, for the time being, decreased in some areas, my stress level has stayed the same. It is not a problem issue– it is a faith issue.
I am so excited to be able to see this, more clearly than ever before, as Sung and I just begin our marriage journey. I truly believe, as I seek God’s peace throughout each day no matter what challenges arise, that I will be a better life partner to my husband, and a more enjoyable one to be around. It has, so far, proved a challenging task, but I am committed to changing my outlook for good. I will no longer allow worry to fill so much of my mind, unchecked. Rather then merely wishing I didn’t feel so stressed, I am committing each issue to the Lord with the simple prayer suggested in this sermon, “Jesus, I trust you.”