7/16/2015 3:21:59 PM
AnxIety with a Capital "I"
On June 27, 2013, at about 2:00 PM, while driving to La Crosse, Wisconsin for the 50th Annual LWMS Convention, my cell phone rang —Jeanne Martin was calling with election results. That night, as I walked into the arena, my heart sunk and fear set in. “I can’t do this!” “What was I thinking when I agreed to be nominated?” “This is so huge and there is no way I can manage with everything else I do!” It felt so overwhelming that the next morning there was literally a lump in my throat so large I couldn’t swallow my vitamins. I didn’t know that was a real thing.
In the two years on the board since then, there have been so many opportunities to prepare, grow, and learn and so much encouragement and teamwork demonstrated. Meetings and visits and relationships were formed that helped guide and manage the organization. Clearly the pressure of becoming president would decrease as June 28, 2015, approached. Or so I thought. After the gavel was passed, standing there in front of the convention assembly, the anxiety came flooding back in. That same overwhelming feeling of “What am I doing here?” “How can I do this?” “I am not capable of managing this organization cherished by so many!”, I fumbled for words, glanced at the faces staring back, thought of everything but what was in front of me, and tried to convey calmness with limited success.
Since then, it came to me: All of my anxiety statements contain the pronoun “I”. Each time there is fear, it is because of an “I”. I believe I have to do it all or I have to manage it all. I think I can control things or I have to know how things should go. I feel overwhelmed because I can’t possibly live up to expectations I have created. That’s true not just with LWMS, but with my life quite often. How about you?
Sitting on my office desk, just written on the back of a business card where it is visible every day, is Phillipians 4:6, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” It’s not a coincidence that verse speaks to me; for it is God who speaks to me and you in that verse. God begs us not to rely on “I”, in fact, he commands that we rely on him. He instructs us on how to reduce anxiety—by prayer, about everything, with gratitude.
For the next two years, my effort will not to be anxious about anything (note the word effort, not promise), but in all LWMS business to pray and ask God, with great joy, to give us all what we need to support the work of HIS church through the organization we love, Lutheran Women’s Missionary Society. Please join me and your sisters throughout the world in reducing our anxiety about serving by praying with thanksgiving for all we need— knowing which pronoun really has it all in hand.