Saturday, April 25, 2015

On Anxiety, Part One: Doubt

I have dreaded the month of April.

In the same exact time frame, I lost five of my strongest baristas, and began training four absolutely new staff members (yes, half my staff).  Not to mention the Boss Lady in the Accounting Office is also out of the country. Add onto that three commission art projects that are due at the same time.

I tried not to panic, and I rolled my eyes at the attempt. I thought about all the things that need to be done, how much time I have, while completely aware that setting healthy boundaries and resting are my weaknesses.  Oh yes, I absolutely panicked.  I'd trail down worst-case scenarios.  I'd repetitively think about how much I dread all the micro-managing/quality control that comes with training.  I groan and I get unmotivated and I can't sleep and I want to binge-watch British time period miniseries while eating chips and then vent out my frustrations on gracious, innocent bystanders (read: Wes and my family).  And eat more chips.

I was the embodiment of anxiety: an unpleasant state of inner turmoil, a dread of anticipated events.

Worst of all, anxiety is so taxing, that by the time I reach said event, I am exhausted- physically, emotionally, mentally.  And it's straight-up annoying.


At the brink of April, I had a very big, life-changing decision to make.  And that was the pinnacle of my anxiety.  I was so worried about the confrontation, that it would become personal instead of logistical.  I feared the repercussions, the long-term effects, even the way people would perceive me.  I felt misunderstood before I had a chance to defend myself.

Basically, anxiety is brought about by the lack of control: not being able to monitor or know the outcome of certain events creates a shaking restlessness of "what ifs?" and acting as if the worst has already been carved in stone.  And this was me.

And the lack of control signifies a lack of trust in the One who does have control.  I'm not allowing myself to believe in His goodness or in His care for me.  Surely, a bulk of the Christian's anxiety is that "what if God didn't really say?" or "what if I heard Him wrong?" or "what if He didn't really speak, what if this is my flesh?"

The lack of trust is, at that point, borne by whether we know God and actually hear from Him.  And that's a hard matter to give replicate answers for.  Our relationship with God operates by faith, thus, for the rest of our lives, we'll be questioning just like Adam and Eve felt in the garden - did God really say?


The question of "Did God really say" is the underestimated root of what distances us from God, what shakes our trust and insists on fear.  Whether this may be theologically sound or not, I do think that the first temptation in the garden was not the apple to Eve, but was the moment when the serpent said, "Did God really say....?" because the temptation then lies in whether or not we can believe what God says, even if He hasn't explained His reasons (did God explain to Adam and Eve the full repercussions of their decisions?).  It's the seed of doubt; doubt, the exact opposite of faith.

And it wasn't just in the garden that this happened, this also happened with the Second Adam, Jesus Christ, when he had no repertoire of ministry, was baptized.
[Then] A voice from Heaven said, "This is my Son, whom I love, in Him, I am well-pleased."

Matthew 3:17

Following this glorious occurrence, Jesus went to the wilderness, where the enemy came to tempt Him with the whole notion of "Did God really say?"  The enemy asked Jesus "If you are the Son of God.." It's the temptation to doubt what was just spoken.  The temptation to doubt our worth. Was that not the struggle in Eden?  God gave a command, a Word, a truth, and immediately the enemy comes, tempting us to believe otherwise.

Similar to the struggle in the Garden and the Desert, we face the temptation of control, and to taste control makes us less apt to trust someone else with control.  We face the temptation of pride, and to reveal what we are capable of doing makes it hard to step back and admit "I am incapable."  We face the temptation of hunger, that is, the cravings of the flesh, and to satiate its desires makes us dull towards the counter simplicity.

As Jesus did come to earth to redeem all things, even the fall of man, His response to the temptation was neither argument nor offense, but rather "It is written." Jesus was presented with the temptation to doubt, and He points to the unchanging, infallible Holy Scriptures.  This too becomes our ammunition.

In the moment where we question the voice of God, we have His tangible Scriptures.  Will you find out what you're supposed to eat tomorrow?  No, but the Word says not to worry because we are provided for.  Will you find out what you're supposed to do for a career?  No, but the Word defines our identity in Christ (Epistles), and He also describes how to gain wisdom/discernment (Proverbs, James).  Will you know how people will react to your confrontations?  No, but the Word spells out how to react in adversity.

It's easy to doubt an unseen God, and this pulls us down in anxiety.  We may have been the First Adam, but we are redeemed by a Second Adam.  We can believe what He says.  We can let go of control.  We can trust in an unseen God.


From hesitation to action

currently reading: The Heart is a Lonely Hunter
currently watching: Death Comes to Pemberly
currently listening: Leon Bridges