Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Worry : Anxiety

We’ve all had that kind of dream, haven’t we?  The kind that makes you wake in a panic, full of images difficult to shake.; the kind that will pull you right back into its horror if you go back to sleep too soon.  The dream is gone, but the emotions linger for awhile while you talk yourself back to reality.

Not surprisingly I had one of those dreams when we slept in our basement due to tornado warnings the other night.  I will spare you the details, but let’s just say when I woke up I had just been running down a huge flight of stairs yelling and praying “Not my babies!  Please no, not my babies, not my babies, notmybabies…”

It was a dream, just a dream.  It didn’t really happen.  It could happen, maybe, but it didn’t.  So feelings, go away.  There is no reason for you. GO AWAY.  Everything’s fine.
Funnel Cloud in our backyard
(last week)

I think most people are familiar with this experience.  It can’t be called worry, exactly, because the dream just came, attacked even. It’s exhausting.  It’s emotional. 

Having a dream like that, though it may be inspired by worries, is not the same as worrying.
Worry is like allowing your mind to dwell on things it doesn’t need to dwell on.  Worry is picturing the what-ifs, letting them consume you, trying to somehow muster up the strength to deal with the hypothetical situations ahead of time.  Worry can be productive- if you are actually problem-solving in some way- or it can simply be idle worry, and sin. 

Bad dreams just come.  Asleep we lie, and images assault, bringing with them a sense of reality and the corresponding emotions.

THIS is how I would describe anxiety; except, of course, it happens when you are awake. (I think the technical term for this is intrusive thoughts, which can be part of depression and/or anxiety.)

Anxiety attacks.  It assaults a person with those images and feelings right out of the blue: they can come through the news, or seeing your child ride a bike, or for no reason whatsoever.  It can make things you once enjoyed nearly impossible: like riding a motorcycle, or taking a child to the lake.

Sometimes I think it is ok to simply accommodate it, and turn off the evening news.  Sometimes you have to push through it and do what you need to do in spite of it. 

Either way, anxiety is a good reminder to pray.  When anxiety shakes the ground under my feet, I find help only by clinging to something Solid. 

Lord, have mercy.  Again.

"Jesus, Lover of My Soul"/b>
by Charles Wesley, 1707-1788
1. Jesus, Lover of my soul,
Let me to Thy bosom fly
While the nearer waters roll,
While the tempest still is high.
Hide me, O my Savior, hide,
Till the storm of life is past;
Safe into the haven guide.
Oh, receive my soul at last!

2. Other refuge have I none;
Hangs my helpless soul on Thee.
Leave, ah, leave me not alone,
Still support and comfort me!
All my trust on Thee is stayed,
All my help from Thee I bring;
Cover my defenseless head
With the shadow of Thy wing.

3. Wilt Thou not regard my call,
Wilt Thou not accept my prayer?
Lo, I sink, I faint, I fall;
Lo, on Thee I cast my care;
Reach me out Thy gracious hand!
While I of Thy strength receive,
Hoping against hope, I stand,
Dying , and behold, I live!

4. Thou, O Christ, art all I want;
More than all in Thee I find.
Raise the fallen, cheer the faint,
Heal the sick, and lead the blind.
Just and holy is Thy name;
I am all unrighteousness,
False and full of sin I am;
Thou art full of truth and grace.

5. Plenteous grace with Thee is found,
Grace to cover all my sin.
Let the healing streams abound;
Make and keep me pure within.
Thou of life the Fountain art,
Freely let me take of Thee;
Spring Thou up within my heart,
Rise to all eternity.
Notes from The Lutheran Hymnal
Hymn #345
Text: Is. 32:2
Author: Charles Wesley, 1740
Composer: Simeon B. Marsh, 1834
Tune: "Martyn"

Bad attitude: depression
Worry: anxiety


  1. I have struggled with anxiety for a long time. I have found over the last several years that the more I fill myself with Scripture, the less anxiety I have. Yesterday my husband received a notice that 35,000 layoff notices will go out over the next couple of weeks - GULP!
    Yet thankfully I felt the anxiety for a moment, and then this came to mind:

    Matthew 6:25 “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?
    28 “So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; 29 and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?
    31 “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

  2. Agreed.
    The best weapon against anxiety is truth.

    Like mental karate.

  3. Mental karate! Thanks, that's just what I needed :)


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