On not being anxious.

I understand being anxious.

Not in the “looking forward to” sense or the “can hardly wait” sense but in the “aaaiiieee” sense. And I understand that what I’m about to write is easier to say than to do. But that isn’t a reason to not write it.

Paul makes a very simple statement in Philippians 4. He says, “Don’t be anxious about anything.”

That sounds like scolding, a little bit. “Buck up. Everything will be okay.” Or, “Quit yer whinin’, ya wimp.” Or, “If you really were a Christian, a good Christian, you wouldn’t be anxious.”

I’ve been told things like that. I’ve probably been understood to say them.  But Paul’s not saying those things.

He says,

“You know how it helps sometimes to have someone to talk to? You know how saying things out loud clarifies them? You know how asking the right person often means that something can be done? You know how when you finally quit trying to fix everything and ask for help, you might get help? You know how when you take one little step of trusting, sometimes everything changes?

Take everything you are thinking about and everything you are keeping inside your head and heart and tell God about them. Out loud. However it comes out: incoherently and angrily and passionately and stream of consciously and interspersed with laughter and incredulity that you are talking to God about huge and tiny things all together.”

Okay, technically he says,

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

But I’m pretty sure that what he means is what I said. Because that’s what it looks like when I actually stop running and troubleshooting long enough to find a soundproof room and do what he says.

Tomorrow, the next part of the story. For today, try that much.

17 thoughts on “On not being anxious.

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    1. Meg

      And as the day goes on, my whatever ends up going something like this…

      I wish I was a better journaler. It could be my “sound proof room.” What if I thought of journaling as praying? could I be better at either? Because I am pretty sure He gets tired of my prayers when they consist of nothing more than a raised hand or raised eyes and warbled sound. Which I get is ok. But every time?

      And anxiety is a huge hurdle to progress of any kind. And He’s so patient with sending other opportunities to move ahead- or around- that anxiety when I am not able or willing to move through it.

      or something like that.

      Thank you, Jon.


    2. Jon Swanson

      if you were to look through some of my notebooks, you would find journaled praying. Sometimes, writing helps me focus more than just thinking my conversations.


    1. Jon Swanson

      difference translation. King James Version and New American Standard use supplication. I use the New International usually.

      Eugene Peterson, in The Message, says “Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns.”


  2. Richard

    A note in my Ryrie study bible defines Faith as “leaning every aspect of your personality on God in absolute trust and confidence.” How can one be in that posture and be anxious? Why don’t I stay in that posture every hour of every day? I love your expanded translation of God’s Word, Jon. Please keep doing what you’re doing…


  3. Pingback: Some People Get Paid for Being Anxious, and Some People Are Anxious For Nothing « Christianity 201

  4. Joseph Ruiz

    Note to self, read this blog EVERY DAY don’t collect and catch up.

    I’m grateful the Lord uses our community, virtual or face 2 face to speak truth to us/me.

    Thanks Jon, to say I needed this sounds trivial like a cliche but right now i spend days trying to wake Jesus up because waves are crashing and I’m not always sure he is awake.

    I am off to the soundproof room see ya later.


  5. Pingback: 5 ways David journaled prayer. « 300 words a day

  6. Cheryl Smith

    Somehow skipped over this one in my inbox the first time around. It’s funny, I journaled recently about my anxious ways and turned them into prayers of gratitude. Mysteriously, the items didn’t change but my perspective sure did!


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