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Eric's Sunday Sermon; Worry, Anxiety and Fear
Our beautiful sky
There is this strange, sometimes damaging and sometimes glorious need in us to be happy. It is not a good thing when we feel less than happy and get down on ourselves for not being so. It is a good thing when we look at our lives and pull out the good from it and are happy about it. I reckon what I am talking about here is a prelude to joy. A stepping stone to joy or a route to emotional disaster. This striving for happiness is a blessing and a curse.
I am examining this thing we refer to as anxiety. The strangest thing about anxiety is that it is self-proliferating. When one becomes anxious and notices it, that one may focus on the anxiety and it is a snowball rolling downhill effect. It is not uncommon for us to consider – “I am anxious about being anxious”. And then of course that graduates into “I am anxious about being anxious about being anxious and so on and so forth we go”. Anxiety is a problem. It actually is a debilitating condition. It creates a paralysis of action. An inability to move forward. It can be psychologically disabling.
We all have the pangs of anxiety. It is natural. It is a state of being that is instinctual. Part of our finely tuned “fight of flight” condition. I can account for myself that anxiety has halted my progress before and had I proceeded the results would have been clearly disastrous. I say thank God for healthy anxiety. But sometimes that worry and fear make our anxiety grow to unhealthy levels. Is it a lack of faith? Let me confess – in my case it is. It is a separation and distance from a knowingness that God is in control and I need not worry or fear. Well that is a mighty confession so I must also relate that I indeed get anxiety. I have learned not to suffer the anxiety but no matter I suffer the distance that I allow. The anxiety is but a symptom of a lack of connection.
No one really knows what is at the end of the road.
How could I have resisted using this song?
In the moment? Take it easy.
There are many self-help groups that really do help people get better from problems such as being a battered wife to overeating to drug addiction. They are fashioned after the 12 step program contemplated and practiced by Alcoholics Anonymous. One of their wonderful concepts is the idea that God is a “higher power”. This was clearly developed in order to allow folk to kind of start over from their taught notions of God. It is a freeing concept that allows us the latitude in faith to connect to what we really feel about a God. The steps require a connection to this higher power and a surrender of control to a “God of your understanding”. It probably has not helped billions but it for sure has helped 100’s of millions. The theory underlying the notion is a surrender of life over to something greater than ourselves.
Back to anxiety. And make no mistake this is a confession of mine. We take back control. That higher power is not doing it well enough or most often, fast enough. That is a problem of anxiety. When we are in control we do in fact need to worry, fear and fret. We are the ones creating the ultimate outcome and therefore we must be anxious. How about this wonderful concept of “doing the best that we can and letting God handle the rest”? Stop that thought for a moment and consider the alternative. Doing the best we can and we are in control of the result. Well that is enough to make us anxious right there.
If we get into this whole notion of living in the moment we find some relief over fear and worry about the past and the future. But let us be realistic. If we have an appointment at 10 am then we have to get ready and leave for it at 9:00 am or we will miss it. You cannot be so in the moment that you do not plan for future events. Take the writing of this sermon. It must be somewhat planned from beginning to end or it would just be a series of standalone in the moment sentences – or just words that come at one second intervals. Yes even the speaking or writing of a sentence requires some concept of the past and the future. One word must follow another and precede another. I point this out so that we do not go down a purist’s notion of being in the moment to an extreme. I like to say I am in the moment thinking about the next moment.
Connect and create your own sunshine.
Today is a new day all day long
Lean on your faith
Now all that in the moment stuff relates to worry, fear and resulting anxiety. There is absolutely nothing that we can do about anticipating a coming event. So how do we anticipate a coming event? Do we dread it? Are we excited about it? No one who has been around a while has not realized that sometimes we are happy and excited about an event coming that turns out to be horrible. And the same goes for events that we were anxious and worried about that turned out to be just great. And how we anticipated the two made almost no difference in the outcome. But that brings us to the outcome caused by worry, anxiety and fear. Another confession: I have actually contemplated a negative event so strongly that I have affected the outcome of the event. I visualized a negative so hard that it was impossible for me to see the positive which on retrospect was in fact there.
But here is the good news. I have also anticipated the good so hard that I just could not receive the negative in an event. And that brings us back to our connection with God. I know God is great. I know God loves me. And I know that God based outcomes are good. If I let go of my projections onto future events and surrender them to God then I know that even if I cannot see it immediately that the event turned out good. So I can anticipate only the good.
Call this a faith based anti-anxiety medication. And this one in my case is experienced based. I have a good life. I in fact love my life. Well in the past to get to this point God has been present. So why would God not be present in the future? Now there have been numerous times in my life that things have not turned out well. But I can actually state here with some certainty that those times were when I lost that connection and faith in the God.
Is it a connection with God or an attitude? Is it God actually working or is it just me looking for the good. Interesting question that I have grappled with forever, since I understood a little bit about the human mind. And then through travels and witnessing much life it came to me that it does not matter and yet it is the same. If you are looking for God then look no further than this concept that when we look to the good of God that is what we find. There God is. In the change in your heart and your perception is where God is. When we break ourselves down and just relax in love, we are one with God. We in fact are part of God and so on and so on.
Interesting thing of note. As I finish this sermon up for publication I am a bit anxious about whether it is good enough. Will I ever learn?