I admit it. I’m a naturally anxious person. Or I used to be. I have an anxious mom, who probably looked worried and afraid the first moment she held me. She comes from a small town in New Mexico where pessimism is a form of social currency. For years, I thought life was all about finding ways to conjure up dread, and then manage it.
Boy, was I wrong.
I’m a devoted Unitarian Universalist, and you’ll find me talking about God on this blog, particularly on Thursdays. I know this probably rubs some of you the wrong way. I know this because during my anxiety years, I was an atheist. I also know it because I have at least two friends who knew me before I embraced my faith, and they like to roll their eyes and sigh like they think I’ve undergone a lobotomy. I get it. I understand what it means to not believe, and I know just how annoying believers are to those who “know better”. To those of you who find me silly or an unreliable narrator because of my spirituality, I suggest skipping this blog on Thursdays. I’m sorry if my open belief offends anyone or makes them uncomfortable. I only share it now because it has changed my life so drastically, in such positive ways, that I feel like not sharing it would be mean.
There’s a passage in The Bible that really hits home for me, as a person highly trained in the dark art of anxiety. It’s from Matthew 6:24-25. Let me share it with you.
Do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life about more than food, and the body about more than clothing?
As does Buddhism, The Bible teaches us that the enemy of faith is anxiety. You can only embrace anxiety if you have rejected faith. To me, faith is the bold choice we humans can make to tell ourselves everything is going to be all right. If you believe The Secret, quantum mechanics and all the other stuff out there right now that tells us our thoughts manifest as reality, then you will understand why anxious people tend to be less successful than those who have faith.
Neuroscience tells us that babies who are raised with upbeat, smiling moms have an easier time of optimism and faith than the rest of us, because happy moms actually wire their babies’ brains differently by smiling calmly at them. For people like me, faith offers a new way to re-parent myself, a new authority figure I can look to and see smiling, rather than scowling, at me. So, on that note, I want to remind you of this simple fact: If you think it’s going to be okay, it will. It’s up to you to trust God/the universe to be there for you.