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The Anxiety Monster

Ann Spangler
Ann Spangler
2017 11 May

A woman's fist is shown , heading towards the viewer

Have you ever watched a boxer dancing around the ring, throwing punches at no one in particular? He’s using a training technique called shadowboxing—sparring with an imaginary opponent. Now imagine that same boxer, but with a bizarre twist. While he’s in the ring alone, his head thrusts backward again and again, as though someone were punching him in the face. But there’s no one else around. Sounds crazy, doesn’t it?

As strange as that scenario seems, it’s an image of what can happen to us when we start sparring with imaginary ills. Our anxiety turns us into human punching bags, battered by thoughts not about what is, but about what might be. I might never get married. I might lose my job. My husband might leave me. My child might not graduate. My plane might crash. The economy might collapse. My mother might die. I might not have enough money to retire.

There are plenty of places in Scripture that tell us not to be anxious but to place our trust in God, who alone is our peace. One example is 1 Peter 5:7, which gives us a clear directive:

“Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.”

The next time you feel anxiety rising inside you like mercury in a thermometer, let it be the signal that you need to spend some time with God. Have a conversation with him. Tell him you want to focus on him rather than on all the what-ifs that assail you. Begin by praising and thanking him. Then lift up the people and situations that are troubling you. As you pray, imagine that God is in the room, which, of course, he is. Rest in his presence. If you make a habit of spending time with God daily, you will find that your anxiety will gradually be displaced by God’s peace.