Anxiety, Mindfulness and Jesus
Lately I've begun to explore this topic called Mindfulness. At first I scoffed - it sounded silly - because it was all about 'living in the moment' 'being fully present' 'accepting and observing your own thoughts and experiences.' I get that. I thought, 'Why is this so revolutionary? Why is this making such waves in the psychology/meditation fields of interest? It seems so obvious.'
I also thought I had it down pat. I am SO about living in the present that I have a hard time planning anything future (think: kids' birthday parties). I have also tried to stick with a 'leave the past in the past' mentality. But lately I've had to reconsider things in the past, which has become troubling.
I began to read about Mindfulness and even tried to implement these concepts in how I function. In fact, I kind of loved that someone had come up with this whole category, labelled it, wrote about it, and explored it. It puts words to what I've kind of thought is a good way to be all along. I just hadn't recognized that it could be a 'thing'. You know, a trend, a fad, a therapy.
But then there's anxiety. I just issued my apology regarding how I've written about and viewed anxiety in the past - merely from a spiritual perspective, and ignoring that the struggle often can stem from more than just a difficulty trusting God. Anxiety can be physical - often it is - through no fault of our own. Anxiety focusses on future or past and often has little to do with the present. And mindfulness is all about the present. So, mindfulness practices often help with re-orienting the anxiety-ridden towards the present. In most instances, this is ideal.
But then I thought about anxiety, sorrow, depression, grief. And immediately I thought of Jesus, known as The Man of Sorrows, who was acquainted with grief. "Surely He bore our sorrows. We considered Him smitten, stricken and afflicted." We know Jesus was perfect - He demonstrated a life lived not just as God, but as God-approved: "This is my Son with whom I am well pleased." It is noble to want to live a life pleasing to God. Yet the life Jesus lived, which pleased God, had many griefs and sorrows. And anxiety. If Jesus had anxiety, I think we can rightly say, it is okay to experience it also.
My mind went to Gethsemane: "...he began to be sorrowful and troubled...Then he said to them, "My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death." (Matthew 26:37-38). Jesus was conflicted. He was sorrowful, overwhelmed and troubled. Sounds a lot like anxiety. Was He mindful? Yes, very much so, it seems. He asks his friends to stay with him - to stay in the moment. To accept the pain He was enduring. But He was also grieving His coming pain - knowing the future, knowing He was about to suffer. His anxiety was justified. But that made it no less difficult.
When I say that Jesus meets us in our anxiety - whether it stems from past, present or future troubles - I mean that He knows, He gets it - He understands - not in some other-worldly way, but in a very intimate, deeply compassionate way. He is the great I AM. He meets us in the present and welcomes the hurting soul to walk through any path - including the paths of grief, pain and suffering.