Hurricane Dorian approaches this morning. Tornado warnings abound: dark, ominous, and threatening. We have five members of our family living with us due to being required to depart Charleston, S.C., where the storm will strike today. Such circumstance seemed to affirm the humorous theme for this September letter: “How to preserve our sanity”! Perhaps I should begin with a blog I read this morning describing a new psychological diagnosis for severe anxiety present in youth that have been denied access to a cell phone!
Several months ago, I was asked how and in what manner can we deal with anxiety. The idea was prevention, not cure. We must seek to identify our ungoverned reaction to unexpected happenings that have the ability to provoke anxiety.
Once I heard a blessing that I have made to be my own: “May your heart never attack you.” I now give you a similar blessing: May these insights prevent your anxiety mechanism from ever attacking you!
The Jeep SUV we own has around 800-850 RPMs as normal for the idle, suggesting the car is at peace. There is also normal for our own internal peace. When anything or anyone causes those RPMs to increase, something is happening and we need to discover why:
- It may be due to the presence of a certain person who causes anxiety in our world. He does not need to be there, simply hearing his name causes another 200+ RPMs on the meter.
- It may be due to circumstances: final exams; uncertainty at work; an IRS letter; financial or physical crises-failure, pressing down upon us.
- Then there is that unknown or difficult to isolate anxiety that I would like to identify as “a thing unknown”.
Here is the sequence, as I have been seeking to use and apply it. The simplicity seems to increase the workability:
- 8/900 is normal. I have internal peace. This is a standard to recognize. This alone has caused me to make some difficult changes.
- Be aware of any of the three events presented above. Now we “see” when and why the anxiety started. Awareness is a fore-warning allowing us to engage and prepare. We need to build an early warning system.
- When our RPM’s move to 1200 and above, we experience physical symptoms that are followed by irrational and unexpected responses: emotions seek to rule; decisions are distorted; confusion governs; statements are made. Some injure deeply or incurably.
At this moment, we do not want to go to ‘rebuking the circumstance’. It may come to that. We should not begin there. Rather, let us look at the situation in order to recognize who, what or why our RPMs have increased. Once we “see,” we may be able to actually govern our own reactions and responses. No, we will not allow anxiety to govern us. We will live in peace. Peace is my inheritance and that needs to be defended.
Christ Jesus uses “ALL THINGS” to bring us to Himself. This, I am certain, is one of those. He is expecting us to recognize and govern our own RPMs. That is who we are. Peace disturbed must experience peace restored. We are growing up.
Here is my personal gift to you. This is a prayer that has governed me for more than 60 years. If you would own it, make it your very own:
Father, when the smoke of the battle clears;
May it be seen that this servant still stands!