6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7 (NKJV)
Anxiety sucks. Thanks (but no thanks) to anxiety, most of the normally joy inducing events in my life have been reduced to numbness or paralyzing worry. Every bit of good news is given a caveat by my brain. Not much really makes me happy or excited.
I don’t share this part of me much. I call it my douche-bag brain. It’s the part of my brain that whispers “I want to die” first thing in the morning. It’s the part of my brain that refuses to enjoy experiences because it tells me there are others who may not be enjoying the same things. It’s the part of my brain that won’t accept good news because it assumes that something horrible is going to happen. There is no such thing as good news, there’s always a catch.
Very rarely do I ever exhibit outward signs of this anxiety. I’ve perfected my poker face and cool demeanor. But while my outside is calm, my inside is racing through every possible contingency and assuming 95% of them are doomed to some variety of failure.
Now, for my chosen career this can be somewhat helpful. Having a good situational awareness is key to safe firefighting. Having the ability to process large amounts of data and creating contingencies for many outcomes is great to ensure everyone gets out alive. But in everyday living this pattern of thinking can be very exhausting and thoroughly fry one’s brain.
Unfortunately (fortunately?) for me my brain has developed tactics for dealing with this issue of burnout. I go numb. I no longer get get excited for anything. I no longer get torn up by bad news. Every bit of information is taken in with the same bit of “meh”. Food, drink, and even sex is not as enjoyable since even the physical data gets a filter.
This year I have resolved to be more content. But that contentment won’t come if I am anxious. Contentment is not numbness or limp acceptance of one’s circumstances. Contentment is a peaceful understanding that one’s circumstances are exactly where one is Providentially supposed to be. Contentment is joy (not happiness happiness necessarily, they are two different things) in all circumstances good and bad.
Numbness is not joy. If I am to be content I must fight my brain for control of my responses. I must learn to respond to data and not merely react. I must learn to take every errant thought captive and submit it to intense scrutiny and correction. I must train my brain to accept physical pleasures as good gifts of God. I must learn to get excited again about good news and truly mourn for the bad.
Now, if my brain would not add “stop being anxious” to the list of things to be anxious about, I probably would be able to get rid of it. For now, it’s just going to be prayer and supplication. So far that has seemed to work out for me. God does provide. The more I trust Him, the more He has provided.
Anxiety sucks, but the more I live, the more I’m proved how wrong it is. DB brain may be a loudmouth jerk, but he’s also a liar . I know that all will work out. I know that eventually, despite what my anxiety says, life does tend to find a way to proceed without too much complete failure. Every day is a test of my will to kill this. I intend to win.