Val often tells me a story about how brother attending church. Her brother is an extremely talented guy. I knew him before I met her and we had some good times growing up. Over the years, he had visited a church or two but never really found one he’d liked.
The story goes that he was visiting a church where the youth pastor happened to do the message that Sunday. He did the sermon barefoot first off (something that would weird me out also) then started talking about how great his life was.
The moment you hear a supposed man or woman of God talk about how great their life is and how you never suffer as one who follows Jesus, feel free to get up and head towards the door. You’d learn more about Jesus at the Dunkin Donuts down the road.
The church stigmatized anxiety in a world full of it.
There’s a line in one of my favorite Bret Easton Ellis novels, Lunar Park, that I love. The gist of the book is Ellis writing himself as the main character with his creations coming to life, including killer Patrick Bateman from his most famous work, American Psycho.
His character states that, as he drove down the road, every intersection was one turn away from a car accident waiting to happen.
The thought has stuck with me for years as a dad and husband. Many days the car accidents feel one intersection away.
We are allowed to be anxious. Yes, friends can rattle off verse after verse about faith and hope, where our help comes from and casting our cares on Jesus. These are all good things.
They can coexist with anxiety.
I heard a pastor once say that faith and fear can’t coexist.
I have days of both. Some weeks Faith is called Monday and Fear is called Tuesday.
As men we often try to pad things. If you are reading this and married to one of us, know that the waters run deeper than we show. For me it is a constant feeling of electric tension, like a power line running through my chest. I check my phone more often, waiting for that text message or voicemail of bad news.
Even if none seems on the horizon.
Anxiety opens the door to voices that can try to sell you wrong messages. You start talking circles around the tension in an attempt to beat it down. The words build on the feeling and you end up back where you started, looking at the ceiling as the night drifts past.
If this is you tonight, know that the sun still comes up tomorrow. The story isn’t over. Your worries carry an important lesson. They can be a compass towards a better future.
It takes one step to move forward. I know it isn’t easy, but movement is the key.
Thomas, the one stating he would only believe Jesus had risen if he appeared in the Upper Room, he personified anxiety and was, by far, one of the most human disciples. He is us.
“Yeah I get it, he’s alive and all, when I see it, I’ll believe. When I touch his wounds, I’ll believe.”
Jesus appears and holds out his hand offering Thomas a chance to do what he asked. Thomas had to reach out to make it happen. He could have stayed in his feelings, even staring face to face with Jesus.
He chose to move and see his faith complete.