The Solution to Worry


I probably need to be medicated when I fly. Truly, a glass of wine just isn't enough to calm the anxiety I have on airplanes. My husband feels the worst of the pain, considering I typically shred his arm with my fingernails during every take off. The funny thing is, I have flown hundreds of times in my life. I started flying as a baby, multiple times a year, and I used to love it. I have distinct memories of my big sister and I cheering at the first bumps of turbulence because we thought it was exciting. But, somewhere between 9/11 and a plane crash in my hometown, my feelings towards flying turned sour. We all have anxieties, most of them irrational. But, if we aren't careful, we can become crippled under the weight of these worries, unable to live full lives. As a naturally anxious person, I'm always looking for ways to minimize my anxieties, and I've found that one helpful way is to categorize them. I believe there are two primary kinds of anxiety: the kind that's driven by circumstance and the kind that's driven by resistance.

Flying is a circumstance-driven anxiety. When I feel the plane lurch off the ground, my stomach has a gut-reaction, no pun intended. I'm not saying that there isn't a better way to work through this anxiety and/or manage it than my wine, but it will be a constant battle. Some people fear heights or spiders or public speaking. You can get better at managing your circumstance-driven fears, but they may never go away completely.

Resistance-driven anxiety is something I define as the inability to commit to the task at hand. You know the feeling; you're fretting, paralyzed to announce your decision, and can't stop making pro-con lists in your head. Maybe you need to take a financial risk or end a relationship or stop checking social media every five minutes. And yet, you resist the choice because you're scared of the outcome. Even after you've made the decision, you're still a wreck, constantly justifying your process to anyone who will listen.

This is the type of anxiety that I think plagues most of us on a day to day basis. It's the little things, the quiet whispers of doubt, and the "what if" questions that we can't shake. The problem in dealing with these worries is that few of us handle them in the right way. You see, we try to decide not to worry. However, the problem is that the cause of our worry is often because we have trouble with decisions. Do you notice the conundrum? We keep battling with our own choices, and then try to choose not to care. It doesn't work, so what does?

Wisdom. Wisdom is the solution to worry. James 1:4-8 says,

"Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do."

I don't know about you, but when I worry, I feel completely unstable. I have the knack of going around and around a decision in my head, even after I've made up my mind on paper. We have to learn to seek and use wisdom when making a decision and trust that our reasoning was crafted on stable ground.

This doesn't ensure that every decision we make will be perfect, but it should give us assurance enough to help quell the worrying. When you ask, you must believe and not doubt. Doubting cripples us, and it keeps us from moving forward. When you have a big choice to make, seek wisdom, make your choice, and be confident in it until you feel called to move elsewhere.

Resisting decision making is actually a decision in itself, just a bad one.