These verses used to really annoy me. As someone who struggles with anxiety, I resented that they made it seem so easy to not worry: just don’t do it! But there are plenty of valid reasons to worry, especially right now, and our anxiety can feel overwhelming at times. I’ve come to understand these verses in a different way that’s more helpful for me. I don’t know if it’s possible to completely stop worrying. I have definitely not figured that out. But I do think it’s possible to try to slow down and step back so that God’s peace might be able to interrupt some of our ceaseless worry.
I find that the more anxious I am, the more urgent every task seems. Certainly, there are some things that are urgent and I pray that we are able to approach those tasks and situations with calm hearts and minds so that we can get done what we need to get done. But not everything is urgent. Not everything demands our immediate attention or all of our time and energy.
When I find myself racing from place to place (during these times it’s more like hopping from one Zoom meeting to the next) or adding items to my to-do list faster than I’m able to cross any off, I start to feel more anxious. Everything starts to feel urgent and I feel weighed down by the reality that I can’t do all the things. Perhaps you have experienced this in your life. That’s when it’s helpful to pause and go for a walk or sit on the porch and try to quiet our minds. We need to step back, look at the big picture, and ask what’s causing our worry, what actually needs to get done, and what can wait. What we’re able to do, what we can set aside, and where God is in all of it.
Anxiety is no joke and seeking professional counseling can be a necessary and important step in addressing our mental health which is something we all need to be aware of and pay attention to. One way we can do so is by slowing down when we find ourselves getting caught in our worries. In that quieter, slower place we might be able to experience God’s peace in the midst of everything going on around us and inside us. When we take a step back, God might be able to step in.