Anxious Memories

The other day I was watching YouTube. One video was on top of a 1,390 foot television tower. Just watching the video brought on the “fight or flight” feelings. My palms got sweaty. My heart beat rose. It was as if I was on top of that TV tower!

That’s anxiety. It’s like you are standing on a high place and are about to be pushed. There’s no place to go but down.

I felt like that every time I had to deal with controversy. The Ministry is full of controversial moments. Most of them find me in the thick of it, whether I have anything to do with the situation or not. It’s sad to say that much of the time the controversy has nothing to do with doctrine and/or practice. It’s procedural matters or indifferent things that usually make someone upset either at me or at someone else.

I don’t like anxious moments. Most of the time when anxiety sets in I feel as if everyone in the room is out to get me. The palms go sweaty, the heart rate fires up, and I start to get short of breath. The psychologist I saw once (you’ll recall that part of my story from an earlier post) told me that’s all part of the animal instinct inside a human being. We want to flee from something that our subconscious considers harmful.

Once I started taking Effexor and after some counseling sessions, I now see that some of my anxiety was self-inflicted. I made myself a martyr when there was no situation that called for martyrdom. One too many stories of pastors in anxious moments made me anxious for the same thing to happen to me.

There’s usually one in every congregation. There’s one person or one family that just doesn’t “play ball” with the pastor and/or the congregation. They want things their way or else they hit the highway…until the pastor they don’t like or the people in the congregation they don’t like are gone. Then they return…for better or for worse. Whether or not they know it, they cause pastors to be anxious. Like I said, sometimes it’s for what seems to be the silliest reasons. But to them it’s not silly. It’s serious stuff. But it’s for that reason that anxiety kicks in for a fellow like me.

When you see what a treasure we have as Christians, it makes a person wonder why someone would ever want to cause anxiety among fellow Christians, let alone their pastor. The answer is sin. It’s always sin. There is a remedy to sin. His name is Jesus Christ. Repentance toward the forgiveness of sins is the cure. Yet we take His forgiveness for granted or, worse yet, withhold forgiveness until we get our way. See what I mean about foolishness and anxiety?

Self-inflicted anxiety is noxious stuff. The bottom line is that I can only do so much before I have to realize that perhaps the problem is not me. Yes, there are times when my words and actions are the problem. But when sinful human beings try to shift the blame (and cause anxiety in some) it can be mentally painful. I’ve got the mental scars to prove it.

I still get wound up now and then in controversial situations. I am thankful for supportive lay leaders in my current congregation who are outstanding “sound boards” to ask advice and receive advice. Without them I fly blind. They help keep my anxiety in check and, whether they know it or not, help me know myself better than before.



One Response to “Anxious Memories”

  1. Reading through your blog. This hits home with so many of my recent posts. anxiety and sin. If you have time, I ask you to check out “I am a nervous wreck, PTSD” I fought through a depression, glad praise God to have that in the rear view mirror, but now i came up with a new set of symptoms. Well, i am not bored! I pray God will send healing to you as depression can eat a ministry. I have worked with some people in my flock who were given Effexor by a gen. prac. MD. It seems that is something a specialist should deal with. i have helped people come down from heroin, the Effexor was worse. i feel a specialist would have tapered it off gradually with other drugs to help combat symptoms. May the treatment modality work and let me share what most helped me. find something good and cling to it. I needed to take captive every thought to Christ. I had been taught that in a way meaning sin, useually sexual sin. I had to learn to banish “bad thought” from my mind and give it no room.
    That is no easy task. I do not mean to eat up your space, sorry, but you were singing my song. Shalom

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