Although most of the leaves have fallen from the trees in my front yard, most of the leaves on the trees in my back yard, which overlooks the lake, remain. On cloudy days their gold and yellow colors brighten my heart, motivating me to take just one more photo.
Such was the case on Tuesday morning, when I took this photo. I could easily see the opposite shore of the lake–only about 1/2 mile from my shore. On the ice that covers the lake during some winter months, some of my family members have skated across to that other side.
When fog settles on the lake, it’s impossible for me to see the opposite shore. Even though I know it hasn’t moved, I feel uncertain about it’s existence. The world seems smaller. The trees in my back yard appear to be much larger than they actually are. All I can see beyond them is a white blanket of fog. I feel enclosed by it. That was the case on Thursday morning, when I took this photo.
When the brain fog of anxiety settles down in our brains, it limits our vision; we loose our ability to think logically. Issues which we normally face seem like huge “trees”. We can’t see beyond them. We become focused on the uncertainties of the situation.
Last night, after a few hours of sleep, I woke up with symptoms of anxiety. My thoughts were disconnected. My brain felt foggy. For a few minutes, I felt enclosed in a blanket of panic. Then, I found help. How? By doing the same thing that David, writer of the Psalms, so often did.
These are the two things that he did.
- He acknowledged his anxiety.
- He remembered God.
Instead of focusing on his internal discomfort and the uncertainties of the situation around him, he focused on the certainty of God’s presence and the unchangeable qualities of his character–on God’s love for him.
Apparently, it helped, for this was his prayer of gratitude to God: “In the multitude of my anxieties within me, your comforts delight my soul” (Psalm 94:13 NKJV).
Last night, as I acknowledged my anxiety and then turned my attention to God, the clouds of anxiety gradually lifted and I could think clearly. I’ve experienced this many times. I can’t say I no longer feel anxious, but my anxiety is much less intense than it used to be.
Following David’s example, I often write a prayer of gratitude in my journal. In paging through it today, I found the following such prayer.
Whether it’s a tiny bit of anxiety or an overwhelming pit of anxiety, You are there. Your presence and your comforting words restore joy to my heart. Thank you, Jesus, oh thank!
Discomfort with uncertainty is the first step toward becoming enveloped in the brain fog of anxiety. Yet, in the world around us, the number of things that we can feel certain about is rapidly decreasing. Our discomfort with the uncertainty about the outcome of the upcoming U.S. Presidential election is causing many of us to act in senseless, irrational, and erratic ways. Often, these are outer expressions of inward anxiety.
How can we retain stability of mind and purpose in these days of confusion and uncertainty? We can only do so by focusing, like David did, on the certainty of God’s presence (whether we feel it or not) and by trusting in the love and integrity of our invisible but trustworthy Savior.
Questions for your reflection
- When I feel anxious, which is harder for me to do : admit to my anxious feelings or remember God?
- What could I do that would make it easier for me to acknowledge my anxiety?
- How might writing my prayers in a journal be helpful?