Fr. Rusty's Corner

Turn Four: Deep Thoughts from Your Parish Priest

Dealing with Anxiety


This past weekend was the final race of the NASCAR season, and my favorite driver was up for the championship.  At the beginning of the race, I was fairly calm, but as the race went on and it looked more and more likely Kyle Busch was going to win, I became more and more anxious.  And I wasn’t even the person driving the car!  He ended up winning the race and the championship, but the anxiety did not end until the race was over.  It is amazing how anxiety comes into our lives.  We worry about so many things.  Things that relate to us and even stuff that does not relate to us.  How can we deal with anxiety from a spiritual perspective?

From a spiritual perspective, anxiety comes from an over-dependence on ourselves to handle certain situations.  We become anxious because we begin to feel in some way that things are out of our control or beyond our comfort zone.  We must find some way to center ourselves in our faith and become dependent on God because, “For God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26).  In the early part of Matthew’s Gospel during the Sermon on the Mount, Christ calls for people to place their trust in God.  He even states, “Look at the birds in the sky; they do not sow or reap, they gather nothing into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them.  Are not you more important than they?” (Matthew 6:26)  He goes on to state how much more valuable we are than anything else in creation.  Because of our importance in God’s eye, He will make sure we are taken care of in the end.  He will provide for us what we need for salvation.  We simply have to “seek first the kingdom and His righteousness, and all else will be given” (Matthew 6:35).  God calls us to live the faith to the fullest in our lives and trust Him for the rest.

I know this is easier said than done.  Anxieties will come even to the most faithful of persons in varying degrees.  The words of St. Paul of the Cross are helpful in this:  “When you notice that your heart is moving away even the tiniest bit from that inner peace that comes from the living faith-experience of the divine presence in the soul, stop and examine what the cause of this anxiety might be. “  We need to not allow the anxiety to take a hold of ourselves and our actions, because that is how we make poor decisions in haste or no decision at all.  We need to stop and reflect on what we are worried about.  Once we identify the source of the worry, then we can bring it to God.  Ask God to give us strength with it, and the awareness of the source of the issue can also give us insight into the healthy way to deal with it.

Finally, we need to take the anxiety to someone else that we can easily talk to.  An outside perspective can be of vast help to us.  This can look like a friend or family member, a teacher or priest.  Even further, sometimes anxiety is a psychological issue that only an expert in that field can aid us in.  Anxiety can point to a many different things, and in ourselves we cannot see what it is pointing to because we are too close to the problem.

In any anxiety, we must remember God will guide us through and take care of us.  He many not give us a nice solution to make everything better, but in the end He will guide us to Himself.  Let us trust the Lord in our worries, let us control what we can, and let us trust the Lord with the rest.

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