You could see how at the end of each day the world seemed cracked open and the extra light made its way across the stark trees and promised. It promised that light, and what a thing that was.~Elizabeth Strout (From Olive Again)
I am unlearning anxiety. Shaking off the way it feels in the body. That prickling sting on my scalp, beads of sweat beginning to form at the edges of my hairline. Afraid people will notice. Feeling the thud of my heart. My mind a record going round and round, the needle stuck and hissing the same lyric over and over. I remember decades ago when I lived near Los Angeles, I drove to a taping of Family Feud. A family in my church was playing the game. I got to the studio just in time to be herded with hundreds of other people into the seating for the audience. We were crammed together, and my knees bumped the seat in front of me. My nylon caught on the sharp corner of the chair, and a run formed across my knee. So ugly. And I was thirsty--that kind of thirst that all you can think about is an icy coke, foam dripping down the sides of the cup. A water fountain. I couldn't squeeze out of the seat, because the studio was dark, the show ready to begin. I can't remember now if the family I knew won or lost. All I remember is how deeply I craved a drink of water.
That unslaked thirst is how I think of feeling anxious now. How I don't want that way of coping in my life. How I am practicing to unlearn it. The best way I've discovered to banish anxiety is to think of the concept of light. The light of Jesus, to be specific. When I notice the tingling on my scalp, the thundering heartbeats and my mind stuck on thoughts that pummel me, I begin the pivot to the light. This solution sounds poetic, but what does it really mean?
It is reaching for my Bible, expecting God to reveal Himself, to comfort me, to direct me. It is receiving the peace and rest and faithfulness of Jesus. This is mystery to me, how the Holy Spirit provides this way out of anxiety. It is like that big long drink of water that I yearned for when I sat in that auditorium. It is the slaking of thirst. Jesus said to the woman at the well that He offered water to her that if she drank it she'd never thirst again. He still does, and simultaneously shelters us in His light. And what a thing that is!
A few weeks ago I short story of mine was published. The link is here if you'd like to read it.White Birds
A reader said, "I think the woman you wrote about is you." Parts of the story could be true about me. Really, about all of us when we face circumstances that are too hard and baffle us. Make us angry or anxious or sad or lonely. But there is the light. Always the light of Him who says, Don't worry or surrender to your fear.~John 14:1 (The Passion Translation).