There have been times over the course of my life where I really have struggled with anxiety. This really came to a head a couple of years ago after a mild heart attack. I finally broke down and saw a psychologist. We only had a few sessions but it was very helpful. She brought out the idea that anxiety was usually the result of our fight or flight response. Namely when we feel threatened, the most primitive parts of our brains will take us to one of two places, fight or run (flight). The real anxiety comes when neither of this options is appropriate.
I remember this from being bullied as a kid. What was I going to do? If I ran from the bullies they would catch me, if I fought they would just beat me down, so instead I would just deal with anxiety that would manifest itself in a variety of symptoms.
My confession is, I’m kind of feeling that way again. I went on social media today and saw a post that was just horrible and blasphemous, maligning my God and my faith. I responded and was soon corrected by a friend asking me to understand where the people were coming from, basically blaming my faith for the existence of this kind of behavior and hatred. It wasn’t personal, but it sure felt like it. To be honest that really hurt me, because for the last 18 years I have devoted my life to helping people in the name of Jesus and I have met literally thousands of people trying to do the same thing. Are we perfect? No! Have we made mistakes? Yes! While we might disagree, we don’t hate, and no matter how many people try to position it that way, disagreement and hate are not the same thing. All those old feelings came flooding back. I made what to my mind was a very polite stand and really felt knocked down for it and to be honest, for the rest of the day I have kind of felt those old feelings. The stuff that’s going on in our world right now has me feeling like I don’t have a choice but to take whatever people dish out, because otherwise I’m the bad guy. And that’s when it hit me. This is the new bullying.
So what am I going to do in a world where I can’t fight and I can’t run? Well I’ve had enough of anxiety for at least one lifetime and I refuse to go back. So what am I going to do? Well, first of all I’m going to take the advice that I would give anyone else, which is forget about what you feel, go with what you know. I know who I am in Christ. I know what I am called to do and I know what I am commanded to do. I am called to speak the truth in love and creatively communicate His Gospel and I am commanded to love. If I’m doing those things and people still hate, it’s on them. Jesus told us this wouldn’t be easy, so I’ve got to stop expecting that it will. I’m commanded to love, even to love those people who could call themselves my enemies.
I guess what I am saying is this. Life is to short for anxiety. I have to do what’s right and trust God. You probably should do this too.