I have a knack for self-inflicted anxiety. Some of you can perhaps relate. Let’s call it time compression. I am able to look at the next few weeks – or the next few days or the next few hours – and think of everything that I must get done in that time, and then compress it and bring the entire weight of it into the present moment as if it has to all be done immediately. I don’t do it on purpose (at least I don’t think I do), but the effect of it is to cause my heartrate to go up and for me to feel as though I am about to have a panic attack. Add to this a touch of homegrown ADD, and you can perhaps rightly imagine me tearing around in circles like a decapitated chicken. I would be crying out “The sky is falling!” if I hadn’t already lost my head.
Jesus said, “Which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?.... Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” (Mt 6:27,34) Later, Jesus would say, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” (Jn 14:27) Jesus spoke of this peace in the context of the coming of the Holy Spirit. The apostle Paul tied this surpassing peace to a heart that is joyful in Christ and ever-thankful to God – and to the discipline of lifting everything up in prayer. (Phil 4:4-7)
So, after 50 years of living and over 28 years of walking with Christ, I am still learning. When the time compression squeezes the to-dos upon me and I feel the anxiety rising, I am learning to acknowledge my anxiety and ask for God’s help. I am learning to tell myself the truth: that three hours is a long time and plenty of time to get much done. I am learning to give thanks for the work for it presents me with an opportunity to trust God more than myself, to ask for His agenda to trump my own, and to pray for each thing that must be done so that it becomes more worship than work.
Funny thing about all that prayer stuff, is that I actually get more done and feel so much better.
Now if I can just find that list….