One night a while ago I couldn't get to sleep. So many unknowns in my life. How would this turn out? What about that? The best word to convey what I was feeling was anxiety. As I prayed about these intense feelings that were hindering my sleep, I decided to look up the word "anxiety". Sometimes I find it helpful when praying about something to make sure I really understand the words I'm using.
I expected to see that the word was associated with worry, fear, and concern, which it is. But I hadn't been thinking so much about another aspect of the definition, which includes desire. When people say, "I'm anxious to get this done" or "I'm anxious to find out if I got the job", they are referring to their strong desire to do or obtain something as soon as possible. One definition said that the word is related to a Latin root "angere" (yes the same root as for the word "anger"), meaning "to torment".
Immediately a favorite Bible verse came to mind. I John 4:18, in the familiar King James Version form that I remember from my early Sunday School years, says: "There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love."
There is so much in that verse. It clearly sets up an antithesis between fear and love. It also implies that if we are being tormented by fear, we cannot fully experience love. An awesome Creator would not make something divided against itself, tortured by an exhausting cycle of desire and fear. Desires are not bad things to have, but sometimes they need a little adjusting in order to be in line with a holy purpose. On the first page of Science and Health, Mary Baker Eddy makes a beautiful statement about desire: "Desire is prayer; and no loss can occur from trusting God with our desires, that they may be moulded and exalted before they take form in words and in deeds."
When we are earnestly seeking to follow God's guidance in our lives but also eager or "anxious" to move forward, sometimes we can get ourselves into a frenzy by constantly wondering, "What is God's will for me? How can I know?!" One time someone shared with me a powerful response to this constant question, one that will always suffice. It's found in another familiar Bible verse, I Thessalonians 5:18, where the good old King James says: "In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you." BAM! We never need to wonder what God's will is again. We simply need to give thanks. Be grateful. And all the rest will follow...
So if we entrust our desires to God and focus on being grateful, or loving what we have now and even that which we have yet to see manifested, we will have no reason to be anxious. This practice is not necessarily easy. But I do think it is pretty simple. In fact, I would almost say it is mathematical. Here's how it came to mind for me:
fear + desire = anxiety
trust + love = peace