Don't Lose Yourself in These Anxious Times

Saturday, 9 September, I realized that I had lost myself in the overwhelming stress of work, backed-up bills that are due, hurricane Harvey victims who will take years recovering, hurricane Irma that has devastated islands and headed for Florida, hurricane José in the Atlantic, the large tropical system, Katia, in the Gulf, the 8.5 earthquake in Mexico, the threat of North Korea's missile tests, the toxicity that is Donald Trump and his anti-LGBTQ administration, political turmoil, Trump-supporting, Trump-defending evangelicals who are either applauding the Nashville Statement or are blaming hurricanes on same-sex marriage.

Let's not forget the lunatic professing to be a "prophetess," who decides to "take authority" over hurricane Irma and bring it to nothing; and, when that failed, changed the purpose of Irma to God providing much-needed rain -- and, evidently, much-needed destruction and loss of lives. Don't forget Jim Bakker's screeds of God judging America with hurricanes (hint: there is a reason why this is "hurricane season"; there is a reason why the Midwest is called "tornado alley"; neither of which have anything to do with God and judgment on America). Don't forget "prophet" Rick Joyner chiming in with the judgment narrative. Just in time for God's judgment, Jim Bakker is selling his fakakta survival food packages at just the right co$t. Why stop there?

Let's also remember the likes of Paula White, who dogmatically insists that Trump is not a racist (the lady doth protest too much, methinks), now allegedly regrets saying that if someone opposes God-anointed Trump then they are opposing God, which is the exact same rhetoric used by other false teachers like Jim Bakker (who called for a civil war, beginning with "Christians," if Trump is impeached), Kenneth and Gloria Copeland (link), and Rick Joyner (Joyner says that opposition to Trump is outright Satanic, link). These are the false religious psychopaths that the likes of Franklin Graham, Jerry Falwell, Jr., Eric Metaxas, Ted Cruz, Ben Carson, Mike Pence, Robert Jeffress and their ilk are linked. These are, indeed, stressful days.

I was ultimately intrigued by the theme of this season's American Horror Story: Cult. Clowns aside, the main storyline of a woman plagued with anxiety triggered by the trauma that is Donald Trump (and his administration and zealous defenders and supporters), we find art imitating life in a current and relevant form. These are, indeed, anxiety-inducing times. Read through the daily papers, or your on-line sources; scroll through your Facebook Home page and read what others are posting; take five minutes and gander the Home page of your Twitter account; or merely listen to the conversations at the store or the restaurant. Even driving down the street can be stress-inducing, as people are impatient, and beeping their horns and yelling at others, contentious, angry. There's no easy way to state this: we're losing our humanity.

I decided that I will not allow myself to be ruined. I will #RESIST the Trump administration, and the GOP, certainly; I will challenge conservative evangelicals, like those who affirm and promote the Nashville Statement, without doubt; I will oppose and expose the heretics and false teachers and religious hypocrites who blame the weather on gay people, liberals, progressives, atheists, "abortionists," and same-sex marriage. But in the process I will not lose myself to anxiety. When around 5 PM on Saturday I had an anxiety attack, and the wife of my boss came to my rescue, I decided to take some time to reflect on the factors that triggered the attack.

I concluded that I will never change the opinions of a theological or ideological opponent through anger, through ridicule, or through base rhetoric; and, if I choose to use rhetoric (see "lunatic" above), then understand that I've given up hope for such an individual. No amount of logic will change the minds of these people (in my opinion). But I refuse to lose myself, my sanity, or my humanity or spirituality because of such folks.

But I won't lose myself over the Franklin Grahams and the Jerry Falwells and the Al Mohlers and the John Pipers and the Religious Right either. I pity those who are influenced by the likes of these, as well as Robert Jeffress, David Barton, Glenn Beck, Mike Pence, Ben Carson, Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee, James Dobson, individuals whose religion is so amalgamated with their politics that the two have become one; but I can't allow myself to give them power over my life, over my faith, over my feelings and convictions. I can't change them; but I can control my reaction to them. I can refuse to let their views affect my mind and my heart and spiritual well-being.

I need, once again, to realign my spiritual gaze. I must continue to turn to God in prayer; turn to the scriptures for instruction and for guidance and inspiration and strength; turn toward helping those who are in need. I need to turn off the 24/7 politics; turn off the gossip channels; turn off the million distractions that demand my attention but draw me away from my center. I'm reminded of these words from Jesus: "What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?" (Matt. 16:26) Even if I should acquire all the affluence and influence of the world, all the wealth and all the respect, but lose myself in the process -- I have lost everything and, really, gained nothing. You, too, don't lose yourself in these anxious times.


Hugh Krone said...

I hear you and I know about anxiety attacks. Had a 32 yearold co-worker who I liked very much, die Friday morning than tonight someone asked me how I can caal myself a Christian because I don't believe the deceased can see who is or isn't coming to the wake. Add that to an extra helping of stress about this Masters program and I,ve been teetering on the brink. All I can say is James 4:8

The Episcocrat said...

Draw near to God, indeed! (James 4:8) Without hope (Hope), what do we have?

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My name is William Birch and I grew up in the Southern Baptist tradition but converted, if you will, to Anglicanism in 2012. I am gay, affirming, and take very seriously matters of social justice, religion and politics in the church and the state.