An antidote for anxiety

Lately it’s all too common for me to start the workday with an elevated degree of anxiety about the uncertainty of what lies ahead. When I feel this way I try extra-hard to pray it away. But you know what always makes that anxiety go away? Working…putting my head down and working. There’s no time to worry about anything when the mind is occupied with the business of getting stuff done.

That doesn’t mean that the prayer isn’t helpful. God knows that what I need is not to be rescued from hard work, but to be equipped to do hard work.

Fear of the Known

Irrational fears about my (in)ability to perform my job at a high level have hung around my neck for many years. I’ve tried to determine why, but with little success. Even when people tell me that I’m doing a good job on a particular project I can’t seem to find any peace in that because there’s a part of me that doesn’t believe it. Something will happen – a detail overlooked, a deadline in jeopardy – and the old familiar panic starts to creep in yet again.

I’ve been reading a book in which the author talks about Jonathan, the son of King Saul. In 1 Samuel 14, he entreats his armor bearer to join him on a crazy plan to attack a large group of Philistine soldiers, just the two of them. The author of this book commends Jonathan for trusting in God and taking a huge leap into the unknown, encouraging others to find similar ways to boldly step out in faith in their lives.

I haven’t been especially bold in my life, and I wonder if it’s because my fear of the known is actually greater than any fear of the unknown. Fear of those details and deadlines, fear of errors in formulas and forgotten tasks, fear of stumbling through an explanation without conveying confidence or expertise. I worship a God whose perfect love is supposed to cast out all fear, who longs for me to do everything He has equipped me to do through His strength; and yet there are too many mornings where I start the day feeling alone and helpless. I tell myself it’s because I’m not doing something I’m passionate about, but should that really matter? Joseph couldn’t have been too excited about being a slave and a prisoner, but that didn’t prevent him from being given authority over others because he performed his duties so well.

I’m think I’m ready for some unknown, because the known keeps robbing me of joy.