Rhett found my blog in one of those fun Internet rabbit trails and emailed me soon after about guest posting. He told me about his book The Anxious Christian (affiliate link) and how he thought his message could fit in well here. I completely agree. I haven't read his book yet but I love that someone is finally addressing anxiety in Christian circles! And I love what Rhett has shared here today.
Every year when I head into Spring I am met with a complicated mixture of emotions. The winter begins to loosen its grip and I notice new life emerging all around me as the grass turns colors and wildflowers bloom up between the cracks in our sidewalk. I feel a new energy in my step as I look forward to cleaning out the mental clutter that has accumulated in the previous season, and I begin focusing on what lies ahead. But this time of year also brings with it a lot of pain as every April 20 I am brought face-to-face with the death of my mother Melodee, who in 1986 finally lost her five year battle to breast cancer. It’s been nearly 26 years since her death, yet each Spring I find myself in a state of grief as I learn new ways to mourn the loss of her presence in my life.
In my mom’s battle with breast cancer something new began to emerge as well in my life. Anxiety. Between the continual breaths of hope that she would get better and constant set backs, I was left in an endless loop of feeling anxious. That anxiousness set itself in stone in my life the day that she died and I realized that life would never be the same. But as I’m met with these mixed emotions I have discovered over the last few years a way that God has been working in my life. God has taken the anxiety that has for so many years kept me in a constant state of distress, and he has used it as a catalyst for growth in my life. Just as the flower that blooms outside my house in the cracks of the sidewalk must exert great energy to find life between the concrete, I have come to see anxiety as that great tool used by God to lead us up through the difficult times in our lives.
So as I come full circle each year to April 20, I am thankful that God has also reminded me of his life at work in the person of his Son, Jesus Christ. Each Easter is a celebratory culmination of the long journey of anxiety in our lives. Easter reminds us of the new life, the resurrected life that awaits us. But Lent is a reminder to embrace my anxiety and enter into the long “dark night of the soul” and the suffering that accompanies it. It is when I embrace my anxiety that I am truly freed to rejoice in the new life that was born out of struggle and the putting to death that dark winter of my life.
As I’ve come to understand more fully the role of my anxiety in my life, I’ve been better able to participate in the death of my Savior, in order that I may fully embrace the new life he offers. And this journey has helped me in my own loss of my mother. I’ve learned that when I come into the month of April I have been offered the gift of fully feeling the loss of her in my life. And it is that loss of her that allows me to properly mourn so that I may more fully embrace the life that she gave me and all the life that is around me.
If you find yourself in a season of loss or new life, my prayer is that you will pay close attention to the anxiety that is in your life. It may just be the tool that God uses in you in order that you might fully embrace the life he has set out for you.
Rhett Smith (MDIV, MSMFT) is a licensed marriage and family therapist in private practice in Plano, TX, as well as serving on staff at The Hideaway Experience marriage intensives. He is the author of the new book, The Anxious Christian: Can God Use Your Anxiety for Good? (Moody Publishers). Rhett lives in Frisco, TX with his wife Heather and their two kids. You can find out more about the Rhett's work and connect with him at www.rhettsmith.com and www.rhettsmithcounseling.com