I live in a fairly steady experience of anxiety in these days, a combination of moving forward to a life overseas in South Africa for this next season, the hard realities of fundraising in a lingering recession, and the sense that I am on a precipice leading towards a new sort of life, a life greatly desired, yet feared as well. Anxiety is defined as “a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome,” which nails squarely on the head the reality of my life right now.
I am not uncertain of whether I am to return to South Africa, or whether God has called me there for at least this next transitional season of several years. But what about all the things I don’t know, like: When will I be fully supported? Will my needs be met in time? What will this next season be like relationally? How will I be developed as a leader? Am I really moving to the other side of the world, ‘for good’ in a sense? And a million other stray fragments similar to this.
I have a growing understanding that anxiety is largely a mental battle of vague, nagging thoughts, and often resides in the realm of non-reality. ‘What if?‘ is the question that imprisons the mind, shutting down the heart, in this state. That is why the call of Jesus to not worry about tomorrow (see Matthew 6) is so provocative, as well as His invitation to come away for rest in a season where His followers were described as having ‘no leisure to eat!’
Frankly, I want to continue worrying. I want to shove food down my throat while frantically attempting to finish seven different things at once. In some twisted, pathological way, I feed off of this sense of worry, finding some sense of a self, albeit a false one. I am aware of, yet scared of, the whispered invitation of Jesus to open up my real self to Him today. This involves Jesus being with me in my anxiety, not veiling it in some religious fog. What a profoundly unsettling, yet beautiful, invitation.