I come from a long line of worriers. Anxiety is hard-wired into the synapses of my brain.

The weed of worry grows from the seed of powerlessness. I see forces at work in my life that I know I am unable to control. I feel vulnerable and uncertain, fearful that these forces will conspire to create circumstances that may overwhelm me.

It feels as if the only way out of worry is to get control of my life. But, I know I am powerless to control almost any situation life presents. There is no fortress strong enough behind which I can shelter from the possibility that something may go wrong. The reality is, things do go wrong, at times terribly wrong.

No matter how hard I work or how well I orchestrate my life, something will come unstuck at some point. A situation will arise that is not to my liking and I will have to deal with the pain and discomfort of recognizing that life is out of control.

The only hope of dealing with my anxiety fixation is to recognize a distinction between “my life” and “LIFE”.

“My life” is shorthand for the circumstances that occur during my journey from birth to death.  “My life” takes place on the surface of my daily existence.

When Jesus wanted to help his followers navigate their worry-mind, he posed a question,

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? (Matthew 25)

Worry happens on the level of “what will you eat or what will your drink;” it functions in the realm of “your body, what you will wear.”

When  I am trapped on the horizontal, material plane worry-mind gets busy; I find myself caught in a complex tangle of thoughts and feelings of uncertainty, vulnerability and fear.

When my mind trips into worry and I fixate on “my life” I lose touch with the force and steadiness of LIFE that is the source of “my life” and which sustains me even in the midst of chaos, uncertainty, and suffering.

But LIFE is strong, permanent, and unshakeable. LIFE is the steady heartbeat of faithfulness and truth at the centre of all existence. LIFE never goes away. LIFE can never be defeated.

The deep truth is that the LIFE in me is not vulnerable; it is not weak; it cannot be overwhelmed. The most horrific unimaginably painful circumstance is not more powerful than the force of LIFE that animates my being.

History is full of examples of people who have survived the most horrendous circumstances and have lived to find  a place of peace and even joy on the other side of the horror. Through their suffering they have discovered the indomitable force of LIFE.

When I am able for a moment to put aside worry-mind and see that all my worries are only the fantasies of my overly active worry-mind, I reconnect with the “more than” dimension of LIFE to which Jesus points; worry begins to dissipate.

I know that there is within me that which is greater than, more real than, and more lasting than any horror that might ever occur. Pain hurts but does not destroy. Pain is difficult and sad, but cannot utterly overwhelm the force of LIFE that is my true nature.

John the Gospel writer wrote,

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it. (John 1:5)

I cannot tackle worry and anxiety head on. I can only look beyond it to LIFE. I need to develop practices that help me to experience the presence of “the light” that “shines in the darkness,” and to know deep in my being that there is no darkness that can “overcome” the light. The light is always accessible. No matter how dark my circumstances may seem, there is always a place within my deepest being where I know that, at my core, I am okay.

The legacy of my birth probably means that worry-mind will always natter away in the back of my brain. But I can do things that enable me to be less attached to worry-mind.

I need to find ways to step aside from worry-mind, to let go of its constant harping and snapping. I need to enter the silence of God’s presence where I will know that there is always another reality. I am held. LIFE remains. When things may not turn out as I might have hoped, there is a vast open space of LIFE that makes it possible for me to know that, even so, “it is well with my soul”.