If there was an activity that you could do that was proven to relieve your anxiety, would you participate? I discovered the results of this exercise some 30,000 feet in the air the summer of 1999. Myself and a group of teenagers jetted off from Tennessee to work with some local Indians in Arizona, who desperately needed some home repairs. These students were also excited about our service project culminating with a leisure trip to the Grand Canyon.
I clicked my seat belt and picked up a complimentary airline magazine and leaned back. I came across a 1-page article which so moved me, I ripped it out and crammed it in my pocket. The author of the article wrote: “According to a study that was done by a professor of Psychology at the University of Texas, people who write for 20 minutes a day about traumatic events reduce their doctor visits, lower their blood pressure and improve their immune systems. Suppressing negative emotions can weaken the immune system. The point is to vent honestly. The net effect is that people can move beyond the stressful event.”
Anxiety and panic attacks are more commonplace today than ever before. Besides anxiety caused by social media, (for example) I cannot think of anything more exasperating than being stalked by someone for a long period of time.
Take a self-obsessed King named Saul, who along with his entourage pursued a man in the wilderness for 7 years. He desired to kill the next God-ordained King by the name of David. What did David do? He wrote a big chunk of a book called The Psalms as found in the middle of the Bible. Authors Philip Yancey and Brenda Quinn write from their book Meet The Bible:
“Reading David’s Psalms with all their emotional peaks and valleys, it may seem that he writes them as a form of spiritual therapy, a way of talking himself into faith when his spirit and emotions are wavering. Now, centuries later, we can use these very same prayers as steps of faith, a path to lead us from an obsession with ourselves to the actual presence of God.”
In today’s stress-filled world, how can you and I survive when we have believed the lie that there is not enough time to mentally or spiritually process what we are experiencing? Author Ken Gire writes from The Reflective Life: “The most important reason for keeping a journal is that every now and then God shows up.”
David not only wrote down what was happening to him, he wrote up to God. In Psalm 54:3-4 David wrote: “Strangers are attacking me; ruthless men seek my life-men without regard for God. Surely God is my help; the Lord is the one who sustains me.” Have you considered writing down what is happening in your personal life? Have you considered writing down what you are feeling and thinking? Don’t stop or wallow there. Why not give God the gift of faith in return?
pictures courtesy of “Nelson & His Nikon”.