Tuesday, March 18, 2008

When anxiety was great within...

"Today, O Lord, I felt intense fear. My whole being seemed to be invaded by fear. No peace, no rest; just plain fear: fear of mental breakdown, fear of living the wrong life, fear of rejection and condemnation, and fear of you. O Lord, why is it so hard to overcome my fear? Why is it so hard to let your love banish my fear? Only when I worked with my hands for a while did it seem that the intensity of the fear decreased.

I feel so powerless to overcome this fear. Maybe it is your way of asking me to experience some solidarity with the fearful people all over the world: those who are hungry and cold in this harsh winter, those who are threatened by unexpected guerrilla attacks, and those who are hidden in prisons, mental institutions, and hospitals. O Lord, this world is full of fear. Make my fear into a prayer for the fearful. Let that prayer lift up the hearts of others. Perhaps then my darkness can become light for others, and my inner pain a source of healing for others.

You, O Lord, have also known fear. You have been deeply troubled; your sweat and tears were the signs of your fear. Make my fear, O Lord, part of yours, so that it will lead me not to darkness but to the light, and will give me a new understanding of the hope of your cross.

~Henri Nouwen

I have been struggling with a lot of anxiety lately. There have been so many changes in my life this year and so many that are in my near future. I suppose much of my anxiety comes from the unknown and uncomfortable. However, I must daily make the decision to surrender my anxiety and choose peace. I can only take one day at a time. The future will always be unknown and the present will always have apsects that are uncomfortable or bothersome. It is my choice how I choose to respond to these situations and whether or not I give them the power to control me.

But lately, I have also been reminded how important gratitude is and the transforming power it can have on our lives. On Sunday I went to church with Emily and heard a man who is a pastor of a church in Ukraine. He discussed how easy it is for those of us who have our needs met (and more) to take for granted what an amazing thing that is. So many people don't have what they need to even survive let alone to live the types of lives here in America, we see as normal. I remember when I was in Ukraine thinking about all that I take for granted. I would have paid big money for a cold glass of water, some time alone, or food that didn't immediatly make me lose my appetite. Now that I have all of those things within in my reach, I don't think twice about them. This must change. This week I will look for those blessings, I will seek out the simple joys in life and if I feel the anxiety of today and my future begin to cloud my perspective again, I will thank God that he has given me both. Today and a future.



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