Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
When Anxiety Attacks
Learning, at last, to accept who we are puts an end to years of internal turmoil and confusion. Yet many, many times our relief is short-lived. After the ecstatic “Aha!” comes the resounding “Uh-oh…” Rarely does a newly cognizant GLBT individual gain self and social acceptance in one fell swoop. More often, coming to grips with our identity means coming to grips with it’s not being something everyone wants or cares to handle. That’s when anxiety attacks.
With prayer and fortitude, we learn the next lesson—as soon as we can, one hopes. Our confidence and self-respect aren’t predicated by anyone's fear or disdain. (As Wayne Dyer once said, “What you think of me is none of my business.”) Definitely, we care about the feelings of others, but only insofar as empathy informs our understanding of how best to respond. Easing their discomfort by reverting to discomfort with ourselves defeats both sides. Instead of vainly attempting to erase what’s happened, we carefully look to what’s ahead.
When we read Paul’s instruction not to worry about anything, our natural instinct leads us to divide pointless worries from legitimate concerns. We’ll grant him annoying, spilled-milk incidents like running late and cash crunches. But who isn’t shaken by such major disasters as grave illness and failed relationships?
Paul’s comprehensive strategy for anxiety springs from unnatural awareness that it can only be eliminated from the top down. Signature life events—such as coming out, long-term commitments, and family crises—establish patterns that resurface in less critical situations. Trusting God with big issues teaches us the value in keeping faith and discipline on hand for the smaller ones.
The Stress-Free Process
Look closely at Paul’s stress-free process. In no way does it suggest we ignore our problems or resign responsibility for their proper treatment. Indeed, it provides a failsafe method for handling them. “Present them to God,” Paul says, “in prayer, attaching thanks in advance for His answer.” Having done that, dare we think we’ll come up with a better solution? Why become anxious about complications and outcomes once God is aware of our needs and working them out? He’ll tell us when it’s best for Him to step in. Meanwhile, we dismiss anxiety as we continue to cope. We hold on loosely, standing by to release our control the moment God chooses to take over.
The perfect posture for holding our problems, anticipating the moment when God takes them.