Anxiety and Peace

“…grace and peace…”

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“May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace.”  (I Corinthians 1:3)

As I stood at the bottom of the spiral staircase and looked up I was keenly aware that my anxiety about high places was escalating to a very uncomfortable level.  Actually, the anxiety started before I even set foot inside the door of the beautiful lighthouse at Pt. Arena in California.  Patti wanted to climb to the top, step out onto the platform around the light, and enjoy the breath-taking view.  I wanted to enjoy it as well, so she led the way and we began to scale the spiral stairs toward the top.

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By the time we reached the first platform my anxiety had ballooned to a very uncomfortable level.  Anxiety like that is strange.  It just happens.  Some experience it while others are spared.  In this case I was really experiencing it, so much so that I told Patti to go ahead without me.  I returned to the base of the lighthouse to wait and take pictures.

If Patti or one of my children were in trouble on the top of that lighthouse there is no doubt in my mind that I could and would push through the anxiety and scale the heights to get to them.  As a matter of fact, I have climbed to the top of other lighthouses with my children so that hopefully I would not impart my anxiety of high places to them.  However, in this case I decided that the cost of pushing through the anxiety to reach the top was more than I cared to endure for the chance to take a picture from the top.  I gave myself a moment of grace.  I decided that my “peace” was more important.  There was nothing I needed to prove by pushing through this particular bout of anxiety.  I kept my feet on the ground and had a great time without any sense of guilt or shame because I didn’t push to the top.

Anxiety can truly become a problem in life for many people.  There have been times in my life when anxiety was such a handicap that I needed relief and healing from a medication.  Thank God it was available.  If my anxiety ever reached that place again I would not hesitate to ask my physician for medical help.  For now, most of my excess anxiety is focused on heights, so I manage it sometimes by pushing through with different techniques (including loud praying, singing hymns, humming, and even shouting) but at other times by making a similar decision to the one I made at the lighthouse… I give myself a moment of grace and in that I find peace.

I’m reminded of the Serenity Prayer when I face these sort of situations.  It says, “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.  I’m not sure which comes first, grace or peace (i.e. “serenity”).  I think it’s grace.  I need God’s grace to give me permission to make the best decision I can, and live in peace with myself.  It takes both, God’s grace and peace.  That’s why the Apostle Paul offered his blessing, “May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace.”

I need the peace that God’s grace can bring.  I pray that I can live in God’s grace and offer it to others.  How about you?

Blessings and Peace,
Gary
Pastor, Sand Hill United Methodist Church
Boaz, West Virginia

Help save lives! For more information on my new book, “A Relentless Hope: Surviving the Storm of Teen Depression,” visit http://www.survivingteendepression.com.

Check out my new video, “Teens Surviving the Storm”
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o1hSpxC_G24
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~ by revgenelson on August 9, 2011.

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