Pastor Francis Writes:
So you clicked to read a blog? That’s amazing! I have had more than enough of letters, articles, advisory emails and more about adjusting to life in a shut down. While socially distant I am so connected to messages and sources of information my head spins and now I contribute more to the chatter!
So I’ll be short and to the point. I am registering some anxiety in what comes through to me which is quite to be expected. For myself I do not carry anxiety about the situation but I am aware of how the levels of adjustment and the work it generates is taxing me. It’s a mixture of clear issues to address and wondering how to progress in the new circumstances. At the same time I sense I am supported by prayer and feel the reality of God’s strength within me powering me onwards.
What I’d like to offer here are a few tips to help anyone feeling anxious. They come as list of dos and don’ts forming 8 Commandments.
1.Seek to be aware of your state of mind. If you need help in being aware ask a trusted other: Do I appear anxious to you? Or, if you hear Jesus saying “Do not be afraid.” You may assume it’s because you are afraid.
2. If you sense anxiety, light, medium or heavy, admit it and own it. There is no shame in that.
The issue is what you do with it, where does it take you?
3. Psalm 55 is a psalm full of trouble that arrives at some wise counsel:
Cast your burden on the LORD, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved. Psalm 55.22
This was written long before Jesus fulfilled this in every way on the cross. It points to what we are called to do with anxiety.
Jesus himself invites those who feel the strain of life to find relief by taking on his yoke which fits us with out symptoms of strain. Matthew 11:29-30
28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
None other than St Peter, a man himself prone to anxiety driven impulsive behavior, spelled out how to practically go about this Peter 5:6-8
6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, 7 casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. 8 Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.
So to be clear about casting burdens on the Lord, I suggest you go to prayer and say:
Loving Father, by your Holy Spirit help me pray as I need to.
Lord Jesus, I am anxious.
I feel ……….. (your words here)
You tell me to not be afraid but I feel afraid,
so I come to you and hand over my fears. (name them)
I take them to your cross so I may only carry your light and easy yoke without fear or dread.
I look to you as my Saviour to bear what I cannot carry without falling.
Open the eyes of my heart to see circumstances in your light, in faith not fear.
4. Be thankful. Practice gratitude in prayer and socially.
Those are the four dos. Now four don’ts
5. Don’t get angry. Anxiety, easily finds expression as anger. Any high-energy expression rooted in anxiety is bound to be wrong. It easily pulls in judgement which can be harsh and again, simply wrong.
6. Don’t go blaming people. Things do go wrong, accidents happen. Amidst anxiety frustrations may erupt. People always make mistakes and are prone to failure. Don’t invest anxious energy in blaming.
7. Following the previous two points 5 and: Do not transfer your anxiety onto other points of concern. This is a common tendency that can be avoided by being aware and humble as covered in points 1,2 and 3.
a. The easy to recognise indicator of anxiety transference is expending too much energy and attention on something, getting more intense and concerned about something than is actually necessary.
8. Don’t be isolated. You may not feel very positive but don’t let that make you sink into yourself and think you are all alone. Reach out to safe sound people. Tell them your story and pray together.
Finally the wisdom of Paul writing to the Philippians 1:4-7.
4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. 5 Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; 6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
So much for a short blog!