Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:9
For those of us of a certain age, this plea- “Give Peace a Chance” from the John Lennon song title, harkens us back to an earlier time of anti-war sentiments during the Vietnam conflict. As I was listening to a podcast this morning about anxiety, the speaker was Tracy Dennis-Tiwary, a professor of psychology and neuroscience. Her views about how to handle anxiety were remarkably similar to mine.
I was reminded of the idea of giving anxiety a chance- giving it a chance to be our ally and not always an enemy. Hence, “Give Peace a Chance” becomes “Give Anxiety a Chance”. Meaning, give anxiety, that often- unwanted traveling partner, a chance to be a helper sometimes.
Anxiety is like an early warning system to danger. Often, the danger is not actual, but potential. However, the anxiety persists like a bundle of energy ready to be let out. So, instead of bottling it up and letting that energy build to an unbearable level, we need to expend that energy.
We do that by first paying attention to the anxiety. It might be giving us some early warning about danger. When we take the time to make the anxiety present, by recognizing it, we pay attention to what it might be telling us. Maybe the anxiety is letting us know to pay attention to things we can control. If so, our actions can actually benefit us and also help to relieve the anxiety. If the anxiety is about things we cannot control, we recognize it for what it is. An early warning system that perhaps fired too early or too often.
By giving the anxiety a chance- by listening to it- we can determine what it means. What we cannot do is to quickly try to avoid the anxious feelings. That produces more anxious feelings.
Releasing that anxious energy by certain positive actions helps to dissipate the frenzied thinking that anxiety often produces. Think of a balloon that is gradually increasing in size as air is supplied to it. That air builds up, causing great tension on the surface of the balloon. If we allow the process to continue, the tension eventually causes the balloon to burst. However, if we slowly let air out of the balloon, it decreases in size, tension reduces, and the air has been safely released.
So, by giving the anxiety a “chance”, recognizing it, then taking action on it, we have a chance to get peace. So, give peace a chance!
Prayer: Lord, you give us peace, even in the middle of trouble as we turn to you, Amen