[Please note: ACIM passages quoted in this article reference the Foundation for Inner Peace (FIP) Edition.]
Like Greg, I’ve been working on anxiety lately, triggered by a local class I led on the well-known “lilies of the field” discourse in the gospels. What I love about that discourse is that Jesus is holding out to those who really don’t know if they will have sufficient food or clothing the possibility of living a life that is truly free of anxiety. If people in desperate circumstances like that can justifiably live a carefree life, then surely I can. I’ve got more than enough clothes in my closet and I’m definitely not missing any meals.In this past week, it has been disconcerting to notice that I am actually anxious all the time. I’m generally a calm, even-tempered person, but the “calm” is pervaded by, as Greg put it, a “constant background hum” of anxiety. And it’s so resilient. It seems truly involuntary. Where on earth does it come from?
I think it’s most obvious source is the deep-seated belief that I am always on the line, blown about by random winds of circumstance, with only my own weak actions as a buffer to keep the wind out. If that’s really true, then what else could I be but anxious?
That’s the belief I’ve been trying to undo through my daily practice in the last week. Through ideas like “I can be free of anxiety today” (a reworking of Lesson 340) and “Today I do not doubt Your Love for me, nor question Your protection and Your care” (from Lesson 124), I’ve been trying to instead embrace the belief that I’m never on the line, not because of my ultra-effective actions, but because of God. He created me invulnerable. He made sure the winds of this harsh world have no power over me. And He (through the Holy Spirit) can actually affect those winds, so that even in this dream my needs are taken care of.
So that’s what I’m trying to internalize right now, that trust in God can actually undo the anxiety that seems to be the lot of all humans. Reliance on God can actually replace reliance on my own actions. My emotional experience can flow from God rather than from those outer winds. If, as the Course says, “He covers me with kindness and with care” (Lesson 222), then what do I need to be anxious about?
To be honest, it seems like a bit of an uphill struggle. But I’m having flashes of success, as a well as a general (though partial) lifting of that cloud cover of anxiety. What I’m banking on right now is that every practice period I do is really an implicit prayer, a prayer to God to take away my anxiety, and that He will answer (and is answering now, on the other side of my resistance). Just this morning I read a story in which, at age 16, a profoundly retarded boy was healed by prayer and went on to get seven doctorates. If God can take away mental retardation, then surely He can take away my anxiety.