Until very recently, worry and anxiety have not been challenges for me. I have the kind of mind that just doesn’t hold on the those kinds of things. Unlike my husband, who is consumed with worry pretty much all the time, making him miserable, I have always been able to put problems aside to deal with whatever is right in front of me.
Lately, I’ve suffered from anxiety of the free-floating variety. Because it isn’t rational, it doesn’t respond to rational techniques. I tend to treat it by whiffing essential oils or going outside to sit in the sun. What’s worse is when it attaches itself to legitimate areas of worry that I would have been able to put out of my mind in the past. When that happens, and chanting my usual mantra (Cast your cares on God; that anchor holds.) isn’t working, there is one Scripture passage I turn to.
You know the jokes about Catholics–we don’t read our Bibles and we can’t quote chapter and verse like our Protestant brethren. Of course that’s not true of all Catholics, and the fact is that most of us are exposed to a lot of Scripture via the Mass readings. According to this source, a Catholic who attends Mass on Sundays and major feasts will hear about 41% of the New Testament and 4% of the Old (that doesn’t count the Psalms), even if they never crack open a Bible at home or in a study group.
So I know lots of Scripture, even if I don’t always know exactly where to find it. But I always remember that the passage about anxiety is in the book of Matthew, Chapter 6:
25 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you shall eat or what you shall drink, nor about your body, what you shall put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And which of you by being anxious can add one cubit to his span of life? 28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin; 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O men of little faith? 31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek all these things; and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well.
34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Let the day’s own trouble be sufficient for the day.
Even if I have trouble believing it right in the moment, I know that if Jesus said it, it must be true. Even if I can’t see how, I know He is working all things out for my good. Even though I can’t always manage it, I want to live as though I really, REALLY believe these words all the time.
And thanks to a new prayer practice I adopted this Lent, I am growing in this area. More than once, after I have shared my anxieties with God in my prayer journal, insight, answers, and comfort have followed within days. I find my thoughts turning toward journaling when I am facing a knotty problem in my life or when I am overcome with worries and anxiety. I find myself really trusting that it is all in God’s hands.