Tuesday, April 04, 2006

A Few Thoughts on Anxiety

To go along with my posts on "finding a guy" - one already posted, the other forthcoming - I thought a few thoughts on anxiety (and contentment) would be appropriate.

I was reading recently in I Peter 5:6-7 (ESV):

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.

Now, perhaps this is not the case in all versions, but in the ESV, verses 6 and 7 form one sentence, rather than two, indicating some link between the humility of verse 6 and the anxiety of verse 7. I'm in a women's Bible study at my church, and we're going through I and II Peter using Carol Ruvolo's book Grace to Stand Firm, Grace to Grow as a guide. Before reading the lesson each week, I outline the passage and write down my thoughts and reflections on it. Then I take a look at a commentary (or two) to get another perspective. Then, finally, I look at the lesson book. That way I get to look at the passage with fresh eyes before gleaning wisdom from a few different angles.

I had been outlining the passage for the week, jotting down my own thoughts, and I stopped when I came to the two verses above. Why were they one sentence? I love finding similarities and parallels in verses in the Bible, so I am always looking for connections.

I kept pondering the connection over and over, praying for clarity. There had to be a reason they were connected, but I was not seeing the link between anxiety and pride! It didn't seem to fit to me. Normally anxious people are the meek, quiet types, not the really proud, pompous types. I could tell that I was missing something important, so I moved on, coming back to it a bit later.

I realized, after further meditation, that anxiety springs from a belief that God really doesn't know what he is doing; it comes from a mistrust in His sovereign plan. Anxiety is saying to God, "I think I can do better than you." Ah, some light was shed! Placing one's self above God in wisdom and ability - that would definitely qualify as pride! My revelation was further confirmed when reading the accompanying lesson in our Bible study book (emphasis mine):

Humbling ourselves under God's mighty hand fills us with bold confidence as it dissolves fear and worry. When we marinate our minds in his wisdom, accept our circumstances as ordained by His providence, and see ourselves as His perfectly loved children, we will, quite naturally, cast all our anxiety upon Him.

All our anxiety is rooted in pride. If that's a new thought for you, think with me for a while. Anxiety screams that we've taken over the reins of our lives and stopped trusting God. It shouts that our circumstances have bolted out of control and God hasn't curbed them to our satisfaction. And it orders Him to shove over and give us a shot at it. Anxiety puts us in the spotlight and blinds us to the fact of God's sovereign care.


So, like every other sin in my life, it seems, even my anxiety goes back to pride. I keep wanting my way, not God's way. Original sin, no?

Such a reminder about anxiety is always good during spring, when a young person's thoughts turn to love. It's also a good reminder with the upcoming wedding season. . . It also would have been a good reminder two months ago for Valentine's Day. . . Or over Christmas, during "engagement ring season". . . Come to think of it, a reminder about anxiety is good any time of year :).

Actually, it's really strange. I spent my time in college anxious that I would never find a husband and die an old maid - well, close anyway ;). Now that I've been out of college, though, I really haven't struggled much with anxiety regarding my single status. One of my best friends got married last month, and I honestly never had strong feelings of envy regarding her courtship or marriage. Not really at all, in fact. I can attest that this is totally a work of God in my heart, because I never could have predicted that it would have been such a joyous and peaceful time for me. I just couldn't help but be happy for her, and I realized that this was her time for marriage, not mine.

I've been learning more and more that God has placed me exactly where He wants me, and He will leave me there for exactly how long He wants me there. Does that mean I never wistfully think of finding the man of my dreams and beginning a home together? Of course not. I'm human, and I do think that God gave me those desires for a husband and children, however He may use those desires in my life. But I am learning more and more to trust God in His timing, even if His calendar is different from mine. He's God and I'm not, and that is comfort enough for me.

I'm not anywhere near desperate enough to tie a red ribbon on my cart to try to snag a guy (see previous post), nor am I likely to follow The Rules to catch a man either (post on The Rules to follow soon). Instead I'll just let my Heavenly Matchmaker do the work, in His way and His time. I trust Him way more than I trust myself, my family, my friends, Wal-Mart, or Yenta ;).

Lord, you created me and saved me, and you sustain and sanctify me. I am utterly and completely dependent on your sovereign care. Lord, how can I do anything but trust you? You are my God! I lay my hopes, dreams, desires at your feet, Lord. Take my prideful anxiety, and replace it with a humble trust in your plan.

3 comments:

Lydia said...

Excellent post, Susan. Thanks for the reminder in "Casting all your care on him; for he careth for you" from 1 Peter 5:7. I needed to hear these words.

I could echo your sentiments in, "One of my best friends got married last month, and I honestly never had strong feelings of envy regarding her courtship or marriage. Not really at all, in fact. I can attest that this is totally a work of God in my heart, because I never could have predicted that it would have been such a joyous and peaceful time for me. I just couldn't help but be happy for her, and I realized that this was her time for marriage, not mine."

That is mostly how I feel about my good friend's upcoming wedding in June. I'm so exicted for her and am just amazed at how God brought the two of them together. She has been an extremely content person before. I so admired how she just trusted in God for his timing and plan. Thanks again for this post. It really blessed me.

The Happy Feminist said...

Oooh The Rules are ghastly -- I am guessing that's one thing that Christians, and non-Christian feminists, and Christian feminists can all agree on! (I wouldn't recommend the grocery store route either.)

On a serious note, I'm a big believer in just going about one's business, and things like husband and children will fall into place when they're supposed to. The very day I met my husband, I said to a friend over lunch, "I could just coast along quite happily being single for ever." The worst thing to do is to try to force it. The best thing to do is just live one's life.

Susan said...

Thanks for the encouragement, Lydia. I'm glad you enjoyed my post :).

I agree that The Rules are ghastly, HF. *shakes head in disgust* My post on them is becoming longer and longer and I keep trying to prune.