Anxiety is difficult to live with. The worry, the uncertainty, the general nervousness about an outcome affect us in different ways, but the Latin root of anxiety (anxius from angere, to choke) suggests that tightening of the chest and stomach muscles with which all of us are familiar. Anxiety makes us clench. It is quite the opposite of trust, which opens us out. No wonder that anxiety is a great hindrance to prayer, keeping us centred on self, or if not self, then on the concerns that occupy our waking hours. It is so wearing!

There is only one remedy I know of: a deliberate, willed surrender to the Father of every hope and fear, a surrender we need to make again and again. Every night at Compline we sing, ‘Into your hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit.’ That echo of Jesus’ last words on the Cross is not accidental. The Benedictine motto, pax or ‘peace’, is always surrounded by a crown of thorns. Only through union with Christ can we attain a peace the world does not give. It doesn’t make our worries any less; it doesn’t produce magic solutions to our problems; but it does give us the strength to bear them — not our strength but his. The trouble is, most of us are not really convinced of that. We want to deal with things our way, so we go on worrying and fretting and digging deeper holes for ourselves, feeling more and more of a ‘failure’ as we go on. When that happens, there really is only one way out: to call God down to the depth of our need. ‘The Everlasting God is your dwelling-place and underneath are the everlasting arms.’ Trust him.


17 thoughts on “Anxiety”

  1. As someone riddled with anxiety due to the work situation I am in at present it is hard to surrender to God but the more you do the more he blesses i am testament to this but at the time of worry you can not see the goodness in the trail.

    Hope and peace is also what keeps me going and another thing that keeps me going is seeing the goodness in the little thing that bring joy 🙂

  2. “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee.” (Isaiah 26.3)

    This text is always with me. It’s a promise, which tested, delivers.

    Sometimes, it’s necessary to adopt an overview of our lives and our immediate situations and see the whole from a slightly elevated position where it doesn’t touch and entangle us in quite the same way, even though we are passing through it. (Daniel in the ‘fiery furnace’ is a graphic image of this.) We are pressing towards – that is, journeying towards – that individual ‘place prepared’ promised by Jesus and evolving in an unbroken line into a unique entity which can function in a multi-dimensional existence where we’re no longer trapped and imprisoned.

    Keeping an eye on the goal – keeping track of the real plot – putting our hand to the plough and not turning back – is the secret. The strange and wonderful thing about this is that it often actually overrides the consequences of our problems and prevents further complications.

    Also inspirational is Mother Julian of Norwich’s wisdom: “All will be well. And all will be well. All manner of thing will be well.”

    It is interesting to note that the word ‘thing’ is singular.

  3. Good post & a helpful reminder.
    Well if I’m not careful I can worry for England (not so bad as I get older though) I know this is part of my upbringing so that it’s something to be fought and not surrendered to.

    Mother Julian & St. Teresa of Avila both give me inspiration to trust in God too.

  4. Thank you for this, Sr. I need to hear it!

    But, but …. as someone who is presently apophatically wrestling with a God of “deep and dazzling darkness” (Vaughan), awaiting the “union of nothing with nothing” (Baker), I’m struggling to recast your post in terms in which I can hear it.


    • Oh dear. Andy, if that’s the case, you are so much in advance of me that I think you should be writing the blog. Still, I suppose even Baalam’s ass (sorry US friends, donkey) could speak the truth on occasion.

      • Oh dear … I didn’t express myself well. It doesn’t feel very advanced, I can tell you, more like I can’t get off the starting blocks. Definitely anxiety-provoking. 🙁

  5. Pingback: Anxiety « iBenedictines | Social Fobi - Det Du Behöver Veta

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