We have more information available to us than at any time in history – by a long shot. Yet anxiety – a fear-based and fear-inducing experience – is described as often being rooted in a fear of the unknown – an outcome, an event, a relationship. According to renowned psychiatrist and author Curt Thompson, anxiety is not based on a lack of information. We have plenty of that. It’s rooted in not feeling heard, known, felt, directed. There’s no place to take your fears. No one to take them to. It comes, ultimately, from a lack of trusted, embodied relationships with people who help us process those fears.
There are, of course, a variety of medical and emotional factors that can contribute to anxiety and no one who experiences it should feel shame here. If you are a follower of Jesus it doesn’t mean your tough stuff just goes away. And if you’re not but just curiously reading, you should know that real faith isn’t some thin, fake-smiles, thing. It’s wrestling with our junk – but not being alone in doing it.
When it comes to anxiety, what I’d invite us to, together, is the possibility that the more we are in trusted, real, embodied relationships, the less anxiety we will experience. When we can unload some of our fears and uncertainties with people who will listen, help us process and love us no matter what – the anxiety may not go away, but we can put it in its proper place.
This, of course, is only possible if we will take the first risk, which may be the hardest one: to open up to a friend and let them in. This week will explore the spiritual and mental health benefits of friendship and community. Right now, a lot of folks are struggling. We can’t forget the most basic things about how we’re created and wired. So let’s start by reaching out to a friend next time we feel anxious or afraid. Just a simple text will do. You’ll be heard and known. And that’s a huge step in the right direction.
Grace and Peace,