A few Fridays ago it was creeping up my throat. Sweet, sweet anxiety.
It was looking like we’d have to move. I’d grown to love our little condo so much. It’s bright, cheery, and nearly roomy for the two of us. And the owners were probably selling it. I’d have to pack up all our stuff for the 3rd time in the past two years and move. Again. The thought of it made me want to curl into a ball and cry.
A few days later we got news that they weren’t selling it yet. I was so relieved, happy, and thankful. I’d been praying for that outcome for days.
Then, a few days after that, another opportunity opened up. Our new place would be nicer, more roomy, and most of all, cheaper. But we’d have to find somewhere to live for the summer because it wasn’t available until September, three months after our current lease was up.
The cycle in my head
Decisions, decisions. I worried myself sick the entire weekend. Then I took a new medicine for my headaches and it made me even sicker. Then I read an article about how the AC on Honda CR-Vs usually blows up at about 90,000 miles. Initiate major panic attack paired with the urge to puke. I was convinced my car was soon going to need thousands of dollars of maintenance. (Dumb, I know. That’s anxiety for ya.) All I kept thinking was “I HAVEN’T EVEN PAID OFF MY MEDICAL BILLS YET.” Poor, poor Kyle.
Well, I stayed home sick on Monday because I was still sick and couldn’t keep food down. By the afternoon I was feeling a little bit better, and I realized my tabs were expiring within a couple days. So my sister and I hopped in the car and (nearly) drove to get new tabs. Where I rear-ended someone the light before we got there. Where I completely crushed my AC unit, among other things, causing over $2,000 worth of damage, a deductible, a headache, more anxiety, and raised insurance costs.
I look back, and I worry about the craziest things.
I worry we won’t get our lease extension, and then when we do, we leave anyways.
I worry about where we’ll leave for the summer, and then our property manager lets us extend our lease by three months (which they never do).
I worry my AC will blow up, and then I smash it into another car.
I worry about things so far in advance, that when the outcome actually happens, my worries are no longer relevant.
And now, I worry that we made the right choice about moving. I replay the crash over and over, thinking of all the ways I could have avoided it, even though I don’t remember what happened. I worry that we should be saving money this summer rather than staying in our condo, but I know this is the option I’d choose if I had to do it over again.
The cycle of unhappiness
It seems like the pattern of my life is often worry, regret, worry, regret, repeat.
Both parts of the cycle are equally painful. And even worse, they’re more painful, more tormenting, more sickening than dealing with the actual issue at hand. Martin Lloyd Jones once said,
Have you realized that most of your unhappiness in life is due to the fact that you are listening to yourself instead of talking to yourself?
This anxiety is a vicious cycle. It makes me uneasy about both the past and the future, but rarely the present. And in doing so, it sucks the life out of the present, as if it never existed.
So maybe when it starts taking over, telling me that my past sucks and my future plans suck too, I just need to say “STOP,” pray constantly, immerse myself in Scripture, and take control of the cycle rather than letting it control me.
Past, present, future: it’s taken care of
“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” Yeah, yeah, I hear it all the time. But maybe I need to actually let it sink in. Because when the future comes, I’ll deal with it, and fruit will come of it—even if it isn’t easy. And the past is, well, the past.
Man, am I ever a hot mess sometimes. But it’s the messiness that forces me to reign in that worry, learn to trust, and see the chaos of life come together to in the end. Because that’s what God does.