Faithfully Thinking: When you don’t follow your own advice

So this week I had a breakdown.

Like a full-on “I-Can’t-Take-It-Any-More!” breakdown. It wasn’t a very long breakdown. Only about five minutes, but it was embarrassing because I blew up on people I don’t even know and made a donkey out of myself (censoring my language there with the use of donkey. wink). I’m used to making a donkey out of myself, but I’ve been better in the last couple of years. Not perfect, but better.

My tongue and fingers have gotten me into more trouble than I like to admit. I know I’m not alone in this, especially in my family. Members of our family have a history of blowing up, feeling horribly guilty, and apologizing for it later, even if the other person deserved it.

One reason we blow is that we shove our stress and anger down inside for too long and then it spills out later and takes everyone in its path with it. Remember how a couple of weeks ago I was writing all about trusting God when we feel anxious? Yeah, so I often don’t follow my own advice, and this week I didn’t, at least part of the week.

I listened to a podcast/sermon this weekend that seemed to come up just when I needed it most. It was about how to channel our anger so it can work for us, instead of against us. The idea was to talk out our anger when we feel it, instead of seething and holding it in, and then exploding later.

We don’t have to scream our anger as soon as we feel it, but we need to be honest with ourselves that we are feeling it, think about why we are feeling it, and then gently share with the other person that we feel agitated, even though we probably shouldn’t.

For many who battle anxiety, like me, their anger isn’t rooted in actual anger, but in anxiety and worry. Depression can also make people lash out.
I don’t like pointing to anxiety as a reason for my anger because it feels like I’m trying to make an excuse for being a jerk. However, I know that anxiety is definitely one reason I lashed out this past week. It doesn’t excuse me at all, but it helps me understand it so in the future I can redirect that anger by stepping away from the situation and praying about the fear I feel.

When I say that I have been dealing with anxiety, I don’t mean I’ve been in a corner rocking back and forth. I’m not having massive panic attacks. I’m not popping Xanex and don’t feel the need to do so. The anxiety is simply a constant hum or buzz just below the surface of my subconscious. It seems to be there no matter what and flares when someone talks about viruses or politics or the end times or anything else that creates the “what-if” questions in my mind.

You know the “what-if” questions. The ones that go like this: “What if my parents get COVID and I can’t help them and …. “; “What if they start mandating vaccines but I feel the vaccines are rushed and would prefer to have some more testing and –“; “What if I get the virus and I end up in the hospital and die and leave my kids behind and –.”

Once those questions start, they usually just keep going, swirling around and around in our brain until we are drowning in them. We can fill our heads with so many “what-ifs” that we end up making ourselves sick with worry, which can eventually lead to us actually being physically sick. Worry lowers our immunity and, as the Bible says, doesn’t add one more hour to our life. I would say that instead off adding anything, worry subtracts from our life.

I can say that worry is unhealthy. My brain can know it is unhealthy. I can hear and read the verse that says “be anxious about nothing”, but being anxious isn’t a sin. God knew we would be anxious. There are something like 300 or more mentions of anxiety, fear, or worry in the Bible, with the majority of them included in verses aimed at comforting us and reminding us that God is with us.

God knew we would have to be reminded – again and again, and again. I don’t know why he didn’t make our earthly bodies free of worry and anxiety. Maybe he left anxiety within us because he knew it would lead us to him, bring us to him when otherwise we would lean on our own understanding and solutions.

Our God wants to commune with us. He created us because he loves us. He wants to talk to us and be there for us. He can use the uneasy feelings, the trials, the outright anxiety to show us he is with us even when he doesn’t remove us from the situations causing our anxiety.

I haven’t apologized to the person I blew up on yet. I don’t know them personally, or really at all, and sometimes apologies can sound so insincere in writing. Plus, I’m horribly embarrassed by my behavior — even though I didn’t curse them out or tell them to go to hell (thankfully, I’ve never told anyone that!).

I will decide this week how to handle the apology part, but I have already decided I will learn from it and will be grateful it is being used to show me the anxiety is building and that I need to talk it out with others and with God before it explodes on people who don’t deserve it.