It happens slowly and overtime. It’s not something that jumps our and grabs you or goes bump in the night. But it is something that can sneak up on you and can, quite frankly, make you go bump in the night. I’ve come to a realization recently, and it was a realization that, in my life, I struggle with a lot more than I would like to admit.
Anxiety. And I know I’m not alone.
I lay awake at night. I’m a worrier. I compare myself to others. I have a hard with time letting go. I ask myself why things couldn’t have happened this way, or why couldn’t I have just seen what would happen if I had done that, or why did they have to do this, or why didn’t they realize what this would do? It’s battle that I will never win. It’s a battle I’m set up to lose. It’s a vicious cycle to be trapped in. It leads to cynicism, depression, and anger which ultimately ends up choking you and leaving you in your bed at night suffering and trapped in your own brain. But, we’re creatures of adaptation and we learn to live with it. OK is no longer OK.
It’s just something we say. ‘I’m okay’. It’s a coping mechanism, it’s a little lie we tell to ourselves and others around us. And eventually, we start believing. Our ‘I’m okay’ becomes ‘I’m just living’ and we don’t realize it until it’s just too late. This entire concept of ‘I’m okay’ can lead to so many poor choices. I’m living proof of this. Another night at the bar this week. “I’m okay”. A rumor about X person to make myself feel better about where I’m at in life. “I’m okay”. Another hit of a cigarette. “I’m okay”. Another morning with a horrible migraine. “I’m okay”. Another ‘vain’ action to fill another ‘selfish’ desire only to lie to myself and justify that where I am, what I’m doing, and what I feel is, inevitably, “OK”. That’s what it boils down to. Justification.
Now, our desires for this might be different. Some of our anxiety stems from past rejection so maybe we don’t feel good enough. Maybe it comes from abandonment so we don’t like to let people into our hearts. Maybe it’s fear. Maybe it’s family issues. Maybe you are a worrier. Maybe you don’t know how to pay the next set of bills. Maybe you don’t know who you can trust anymore because you’ve been betrayed so many times. You’ve been hurt, I’ve been hurt, and it makes sense. We do strange things to cope with life. We are all victims of our choices, circumstances, and situations. That is our lot to bear in life. But that doesn’t mean we can’t help each other. I have been trying to be more intentional about my words and I challenge you to do the same. When we ask someone how they are doing and they say “I’m okay” don’t say “I hear ya” or “That’s good” or “Yeah, we’re all just making it”. That’s a poisonous outlook to have on life. Ask them what’s happening. Ask them if they need to talk. Ask them if they need any help. Don’t worry, though. I know all of us aren’t counselors. Most of the time, they will still say “No, I really am okay”, which they truly might be. But even if they aren’t, they know that there is someone who at least cared enough to actually ask if they are really okay. Let’s not enable people to keep being ‘Okay’. Let’s enable people to be more than that because the world needs more than ‘Okay’.
In Matthew 6, Jesus hits us with some words about anxiety. He says, essentially, let it worry about itself. You can’t do anything about it. The same can be said about yesterday, too. I can’t tell you how many times I get mad at myself for dwelling on something that happened years ago. I mean, how pointless could that be? And I know that but it doesn’t help. Instead, I have to fill those voids in my life with something that makes me excited to wake up in the morning. What is it that gets you out of bed in the morning? It’s different for all of us. I absolutely hate getting out of bed, but everyone has experienced one morning where you just jump out of bed, ready to start the day, forget about yesterday, and face whatever is coming. That’s what I encourage you to find.
We’ll work through it together. It’s Monday morning (at least it is here). Let’s start this week together and wake up tomorrow excited and ready to move forward. Don’t lay in bed tonight worrying. Wake up a little earlier tomorrow morning, before the kids, the dog, and just have some time for you. You’ll thank yourself. Read your Bible. Pray. If you aren’t religious, pick up a book. Or maybe just meditate. Make a list of everything you want to do this week. Anything that will help you focus on what you want out of your life and what you want to do with your life. After all, the world needs more from you than “Okay”. Let’s be more.
Grace & Peace