What we sometimes do to relieve anxiety creates more problems for ourselves and others and...then..more, you guessed it..anxiety. It feeds on itself and creates food for others in its hungry way. It is like a fire fueled by the oxygen we give it as we get in its fierce path. There seems to be no stopping this voracious monster.
Have you noticed this in your life?
I have for so many Lents tried to give up negative thinking leading to anxiety, but finally this Lent, I think it is giving up on me. I want to be the kind of woman that when she awakes in the morning, the devil say, Crap, she's up!
In order to have this be my goal each morning, first, I have to get up ahead of him, the devouring one. I have to notice my anxious thoughts and what I may be tempted to do to control them. Often what I do involves others, controlling them. Not pretty. (Not pretty me, I am so not a controlling woman, the bitchy one we all love to hate). Most the time, I think of myself as kind, gentle, sensitive, truthful, and o so loving. All wonderful qualities, but add in fear-filled. There you have it, the root of controlling. No fear, no need to control.
Often, then, when I try to help others to do the right thing, often I am trying to soothe my own discomfort about how awful it will be for me if they do the wrong thing. It is almost impossible to escape my own selfish motives. It is how I think I
am made to survive in this world.
Lets get real:
My son is in very early recovery. He goes to meetings regularly. His transportation is a bike. It is raining. I am concerned he won't make the meeting. If he doesn't make this meeting, he may not feel like going tomorrow because he won't be as pumped up. Maybe his sponsor will be disappointed and lose interest in him. What will he do without a sponsor? He may then weaken and get tempted and fall into relapse. Then what..disaster will befall him..and me?..and the whole fam..next????
The solution, not so much to his problem, but to my anxiety, is to pick him up and take him there. My car is in the shop. Now I am tempted to call..my daughter. I have anxiety about her reaction and getting her involved. She might resent him and rag on me about being so, ugh, codependent. I will ask her if she wants to go shopping (bright idea!) I will even buy her a great lunch at her favorite bistro and by the way, maybe she could drop her brother at his meeting..no big deal. She has two children to take in tow. They need naps. Now I am stuck with more anxiety. I need to get that sticky stuff off me. If they miss their naps, they will be cranky, she will be cranky, and so on. Not wanting to cause anyone any problems, I offer to have the two cranky kids overnight to make up for the favor.
So now we are on our way, the two littles cranking up in their twin carseats, my daughter grumbling a little about their naps, but looking forward to a great lunch and maybe some fun shopping. I will offer to buy her something as a thankyou. Knowing I am causing such a detour of her day, I feel kinda guilty...
We are near my son's place and we run out of gas. Everyone is starving, the littles are screaming. My daughter is pissed..and the pissing is directed at...me and my son. Now my heart is pounding with guilt, anger, and fear. I am walking a small can of gas to her car while she and the delighted children are in munching on McDonalds, next door to where her car is now stuck. She is not happy about the junk food, foraging furiously through her greasy fries nevertheless.
We put in the gas, pull up to my son's place. He is not there..duh! Now I am more anxious. Did I mention that he is 26 and three-quarters?? Did I mention that it would never even occur to me that he may have other resources besides me? Did it ever occur to me that the wrath incurred by his sister against him and me because he did not call me to tell me he may have a ride would cause me more trouble than all this is worth.
Now everyone is exhausted, the meeting is almost over..in a few more minutes, in walks my son with a half smile to match his half turned cap... after being dropped off by a new friend..a girl. Mom, what's wrong with you. Why are you all here? This is Kiara, she gave me a ride? She picked me up when I was riding my bike and put the bike in back!
Aahhh! now my anxiety is relieved, but at what price?
It is no wonder Jesus' constant warning is against anxiety. This indulgence in fear opens a door that the Spirit wants shut. With that door opened even a squeak, harmless looking, little pests can sneak in and run amuck in any household, feasting and dropping at its table on a regular basis. While it is no sin to fear, can what we do to control that fear, especially when that control involves others and, be sinnish? Or at least, far from virtuous. For me, that'd be a yes, (just ask family).