The gift of not being anxious
I was once in a Bible reading group with some fantastic women, one of whom had only just starting finding out anything about the Christian faith.
"You should write a book about me," she said. "You can call it Finding God at 40." I laughed. Not because it wouldn't be a good book (it would) but because she was so enthusiastic. It makes a nice change for me, who's been, you know, a Christian, for 35 years now. (Truth: I am not that much older than 35. I had a definitive decision point in my life when I was pretty young.)
Thirty five years is a long time. And sometimes things can get a bit 'try-y'. Like, "I really should try harder to be thankful." Or, "I need to try to remember that God loves me." Like, it's all a bit of a drag.
And then someone bounces into your life who sees things entirely differently.
One day we read this verse, from Philippians 4:
"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."
I sighed. Because I get anxious, you know. Quite a lot. It's not overwhelming anxiety - but it's there, nibbling and giggling meanly at me on the edges. It creeps into my muscles and makes me sore. It focuses my face and makes me work harder than maybe I need to - because I've got to get it all done - and I've got to get it all right.
"I guess I need to try to not be anxious," I began. But my Found God at 40 friend jumped in over me.
"Wow!" She said. She has a great 'wow'. It fills the room and shakes out the curtains.
She looked around like she couldn't believe what she was reading. "This is a GIFT!" She shook her head. "Seriously. I would never have imagined that this would all be so relevant. We don't have to be anxious! Imagine that. It's incredible!"
I looked at her and her great big smile and it made me smile. Of course! She was right. This is not a matter for trying harder. This is just about taking the gift of peace and using it.
For the rest of the week, I did what the verse said. I wasn't anxious. Instead, I prayed and was thankful. Things didn't go perfectly - but that wasn't the promise. The promise was peace. And that's what was delivered.
So thanks, my friend, for seeing things with fresh eyes and helping me see them too.