Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Against Anxiety - "put it into practice"

Snow just a few days ago and now inches of rain on top
“The Lord is near.” I’ve known that phrase since I was a child. I think adults said it to make kids afraid to scratch and pick the dead skin off their heels or other socially unacceptable behavior because this very important and glorious person who has power to see you through walls is watching so you better behave. No, I think Jesus means to calm us, to love us by being near.
Do you ever waken from dreams that are not specific. They aren’t frightening, but they leave you with impressionistic confusion and foggy memories of busyness that makes you anxious?  I want to know, really know, the meaning of “Rejoice … the Lord is near.
I came away from home a few days to visit long-time friends who make people feel loved and at-home. I am experiencing the grace they offer. You can get up get a cup of coffee that is already perfectly made and go back to bed, even. This seems to be a good place to be before we dive into the unknowns of the coming days. But thoughts keep knocking at my door: will Toad Hall sell right away or will we endure weeks, perhaps months, of see-sawing on the market? Will we forever be grabbing wet towels and stuffing them in baskets? Wiping the crumbs? Recycling newspapers, tidying pillows, etc, etc? Right now it is a little exciting. I hope the next stranger who enters our door will become the owner and will love this place as we have. However, it’s possible this will all become so tiresome I’ll want to kill any agent who dares show the house and I will despair of EVER selling. I don’t know. And what if it sells immediately and we do not have a place to go?! What then?
Here, in such a beautiful place where the desert blooms and the light reaches the mountain peaks with friends I love, I should not be thinking about anything except where is my wine glass, but even my subconscious conspires to dream empty, busy, confusing dreams.

Thankful for outrageous Bougainvillea
“Do NOT be anxious about anything.” The Pauline prescription for anxiety follows this up with “but in everything let your prayers (more formal words …Our Father) and requests (a little like begging) AND thanksgiving be known to God.” These three things are part of the formula. Pray. Ask. Be grateful, you who could be living in a refugee tent somewhere.
The news that it is raining back home doesn’t help. All day rain has poured down on top of four feet of snow. A foot of ice.

Desert peaks lit by setting sun
Trying to shovel it away or dig a trench is quixotic. Some of it is sure to leak into our basement because it has nowhere else to go other than down through the walls and out onto the carpet. The past month I have already spent time worrying about this possibility and in case it should happen I may have mentioned it to Denis and Anita possibly ten or twenty times. Please help me watch for it, I say. (And they flinch.) And now? Rochester is a hellish mess. Water pooling every where on top of mountains of snow. So I have to ask. Is our basement leaking? I could tell Denis didn’t want answer that question. He wants me to not worry and to have a good time - to rest before we plunge farther into no-return. But I must ask. Is water leaking into the basement?
A long pause. (Not good.) Yes. It is. But we have the carpet rolled back, the heat is on and the fans are going. It’ll be okay.
I am silent. There is nothing you can do about such things after all, is there? So many things in life like that.
Stop your infernal worry. Before that statement about not being anxious comes that well-placed reminder “…the Lord is near.”  Yes, he is. It’s like the SWAT team, your Grandma, your bridegroom and the sheriff who is your brother - all rolled into one is watching out for you. Petition. Prayer. Thanksgiving.  Do it, Margie. Pester God. Say your formal prayers. Add a list of things your are thankful for.

There is more to this piece of advice that is worth thinking about. But I’ll skip to the end where Paul cryptically says: “…put it into practice. And the peace of God will be with you."
I hope you don’t find this territory completely foreign. We like to think we are not alone in our neurosis. I pray you find comfort for whatever you are facing this week. Peace.

Let it rain and snow. Thankful to be here awhile.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Your situation reminds me of the time I was trying to move apartments. I had owned a car that kept breaking down on me, that I worried I wouldn't be able to make it to work or church from where I lived. So I prayed to move closer to both and was able to find someone who was looking for a roommate. I then had to pray for someone to take over my apartment lease, so that I could move out. And praise God, I was able to! It sure was a dilemma and waiting on the Lord was trying. But as always, He came through, as He will for you too.