What can I do when I feel anxious?
“Do not worry then, saying ,’What will we eat? Or ‘What will we drink?’, or ‘What will we wear for clothing?”
Sometimes anxiety and worry can be helpful. They can alert us to real danger, remind us of our imperfections and drive us to make changes in our lives. But that is not how most of us experience anxiety.
For most of us, anxiety feels like a gnawing at our soul, a tension or nervousness which can appear suddenly, often without any specific cause. It can take over our lives, leaving us feeling panicked and helpless.
Reflecting on the many things he’d spent his life worrying about, Winston Churchill said, “I remember the story of the old man who said on his deathbed that he had had a lot of trouble in his life, most of which had never happened.”
Margaret, a member of our Church in Essex came to see me, in a state of some distress.
“Every time I’m away from home, even if I’m just out for the evening with a friend, I know something bad is going to happen,” she said.
When I asked what exactly was going to happen, all she could do was repeat that it was “something bad”. She said it had reached the point where she’d avoid going out, then she added, “It’s like I’m stuck in my head and everything’s spinning. I don’t feel grounded at all. Even when I attend Church, I always sit in the aisle, so I can get away quickly if panic overwhelms me.”
I was reminded of the poet, Edmond Jabes, who said, “You think it is the bird that is free; you are deceived, it is the flower because the flower has roots.”
Matthew tells us that God understands the anxiety that comes from rootlessness. Only a secure home can give us the feeling of being rooted in the world. It stops us being blown about like leaves in the wind.
Matthew tells us God understands we need food, water and clothing. He then reminds us not to worry about these things “but seek first his Kingdom and His righteousness and all these things will be added to you.” (6:33)
When we experience God’s love and the spiritual home He offers us, we find our deepest roots. We can then face our worries without being overwhelmed by them.