When Anxiety Conquers

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It started with a text to my best friend:

I literally feel like I am breathing in pure anxiety.”

The feeling was suffocating, as if all my thoughts could only be devoted to whatever deadline was coming up next, or how I wasn’t doing a good enough job at my internship, or how I would pay off my loans after school, or how I felt disconnected from my classmates, or a billion other things. There was no end in sight, and my to-do list was growing instead of shrinking.

At this point I realized I had hit my breaking point with stress and worry. Time to let it go. But how?

Jesus could not have been clearer when he said, “And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life?... So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Mt. 6:27, 34)

Suddenly I knew how I’d make this Lent special.

That’s right, people: I’m giving up worrying.

This year—my first year as a grad school student—I’ve become a slave to my to-do list. I’m obsessed with efficiency and time management, and I’m always surprised when it doesn’t bring me enough satisfaction, because there’s always something bigger coming up that I have to worry about. I go to bed exhausted and I wake up exhausted. I sigh my way through the day. I’m glued to that darn to-do list app on my phone, obsessively looking at it as I microwave my lunch and wash my hands and walk through campus and wait for my train, all because I’m worried that if I don’t get it all done right now, it means I’m a failure. Because aren’t women supposed to be able to do it all? To be successful professionals and balance exciting social lives while making the cutest cupcakes from Pinterest?

No. Authentic womanhood is not being constrained by worry about the next task to accomplish. Authentic womanhood is found when we sit at the feet of Jesus—when we are Mary, not Martha. Jesus Himself says to Martha, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary.” (Luke 10:42) Authentic womanhood is found when we allow ourselves to receive love, and we can’t receive love when we’re giving ourselves away to the tasks of our to-do lists. How can we receive God’s loving gift of a sunset when our eyes are glued to our computers, working away at yet another paper?

I don’t mean to say that we should stop fulfilling our duties in life. Receiving love is not being a couch potato. But imagine if you prayed before each task, giving it over to God? What if you accept that you’ve done your best? What if you do all that you can and let it go? The paper, the bill, the chore, the tasks for today? What if you truly believed, for once, that God wants you to be happy and fulfilled, that He wants the very best for you and won’t allow you to fall just because you couldn’t fit 25 hours worth of work into a 24 hour day? Worry is not necessary to life.  Imagine every second you’ve spent worrying—you didn’t have to worry in that moment. God holds you in His hands.

That’s why I’m giving up worrying for Lent, because I just can’t take it anymore. My life is not my own anymore, and it definitely isn’t God’s. It belongs to my to-do list, and I can’t live like that. I’m reclaiming my to-do list as a tool to do God’s will, and I’m letting go of worrying. Pray for me, sisters!! (And brothers who are also reading this!) I’ll give you an update halfway through Lent. Maybe I’ll totally fail, but I already feel happier and more at peace than I have in a long time. We’ll see how it goes…but I’m not too worried.