Hello, Anxiety, My Old Friend

Anxiety is as much a part of me as my hazel eyes and the wax in my ears. I would rather that it were not so, but no matter how I think I am doing fear-wise, something generally comes along to remind me of my weakness. Perhaps I come by it honestly. I remember my mother waiting up because one of her "chickens wasn't in the roost" yet. I remember my dad searching the churning sky as another springtime storm overtook Taney County.  These are behaviors I have repeated. Do I get them from mom and dad? It doesn't really matter. Even if I am wired this way, it's not somebody else's fault that I get anxious. I have to own it.

For example, when the furnace wasn't working the other day, I went to the anxious place. I began to fret and stew. I couldn't sit still, I didn't want to talk. I had to walk around and fidget. My thoughts were something on the order of, "What are we going to do?" and "Why did this have to happen?" This past year has been one of job loss and diminished resources and so the specter of a major appliance repair or, gasp!, replacement was frightening. At least for one who worries.

Also inherent in my questions are accusation. Maybe it's not wrong to ask questions of God when things seem to go wrong, but there was a tinge of accusation in my thoughts. I toyed with the idea that God wasn't being fair. And at that point, I've crossed a line. The nature of God is such that He cannot be unfair, but I get so focused on the scary stuff around me that I fail to elevate my imagination and remember what I actually know is true.

And what is true for the guy with the busted furnace? The same things that are true for the guy with a working furnace. God knows all about me. He is not caught off guard by my dilemma, in fact, if I understand the Bible properly, He has been right by my side as I approached it. In other words, the Shepherd has led me to this moment. It is actually good that I am here for He does all things well.

So, ideally, how does Busted-Furnace Man handle his lot in life? Listen to the Shepherd:

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? (Matthew 6:25-27 ESV)

Indeed, which of us, by the power of Anxiety, can add a single hour to his span of life?


A Daisy A Day

In the only movie my lovely bride cares about seeing more than one time, "You've Got Mail", there is a conversation going on via e-mail between Kathleen Kelly, who owns a quaint Manhattan bookshop that caters to children, and the heir to the behemoth that is Fox Books, Joe Fox. At one point in one of their exchanges, she remarks that, "Daisies are the friendliest flower."

Well, my wife certainly agrees with that and I think I do, too. I mean, who wouldn't? Is there a more friendly flower than the Daisy? I don't think so. Roses, for example, aren't friendly. They have a reputation for being all about "love", but to me they look a bit more like, "We look good! Don't we? Don't we look good? Yeah, we look good." Roses are stuck on themselves.

Carnations? Carnations are the Prom flower and they are phonies. They look nice and come in all sorts of funky colors so they can match whatever the get up is that the girl finally settles on. But that matchy-matchy silliness is just there to distract you from thinking about the TWO-FOOT LONG HARPOON THAT IS HIDING JUST BEHIND THE FLOWER! This is just one more source of anxiety for the guy who is already chock-full of doubt. He'll be okay about the carnation though, because mom can pin the flower on his date, but he's really starting to second-guess the decision to grab burgers from the bowling alley for dinner.

Orchids, you say? Orchids are Royalty. They are all, "You may kiss the ring," and "We are not amused," and stuff like that. Orchids will not be seen in public with other flowers. Heck, they probably will not be seen in public with me. In fact you can't buy Orchids at any stores. You have to petition for an audience with an Orchid. You may catch a glimpse of one as a motorcade goes by, or hear rumors of an Orchid staying at a villa in the Caribbean, but don't ask about the Rose they were seen frolicking with on the beach.

The point of this silly exercise is to reinforce the idea that Daisies really are the friendliest flower and are near and dear to Kathy's heart. And I have a soft spot for things that she considers near and dear. So on Valentine's Day, I would give you bunches of Daisies, but I don't have any. (At least, not yet.) So, I will give you this, which I never fail to think about when you speak of your love of Daisies.


I Think I Look Good - If I Don't Look To Christ

From the Institutes of the Christian Religion, by John Calvin:

If, at mid-day, we either look down to the ground, or on the surrounding objects which lie open to our view, we think ourselves endued with a very strong and piercing eyesight; but when we look up to the sun, and gaze at it unveiled, the sight which did excellently well for the the earth is instantly so dazzled and confounded by the refulgence, as to oblige us to confess that our acuteness in discerning terrestrial objects is mere dimness when applied to the sun. Thus, too, it happens in estimating our spiritual qualities. So long as we do not look beyond the earth, we are quite pleased with our own righteousness, wisdom, and virtue; we address ourselves in the most flattering terms, and seem only less than demigods. But should we once begin to raise our thoughts to God, and reflect what kind of being he is, and how absolute the perfection of that righteousness, and wisdom, and virtue, to which, as a standard, we are bound to be conformed, what formerly delighted us by its false show of righteousness will become polluted with the greatest iniquity; what strangely imposed upon us under the name of wisdom will disgust by its extreme folly; and what presented the appearance of virtuous energy will be condemned as the most miserable impotence. So far are those qualities in us, which seem most perfect, from corresponding to the divine purity. (1.1.2)