Imagine being significantly free of worry and anxiety. What would that be like? Deep peace. Sound sleep. Full attention. Is that a quality of life you desire? Do you think it’s possible?
In the teaching on the hill Jesus said, “Do not worry about your life.”
The apostle Paul echoed this when he wrote, “Do not be anxious about anything.” When I hear the instruction, “do not worry,” I’m tempted to feel shame because I do worry. But I’m learning to receive these instructions from Jesus as a gentle invitation into a better way. What would I have to see and believe differently about the nature of reality that would allow me to be less anxious?
Jesus knew by experience that it is possible to live in openhanded trust. He was once in a boat with his disciples when a terrible storm came up. They were completely freaked out while he napped in the back of the boat. He lived and practiced the reality of divine care and presence. The reality is that nothing can separate us from what is most essential to our well-being. Not disappointment, nott sickness, not even death can separate us from the care and presence of our Creator. This is why the ancient poet King David once wrote, “[Adonai] is my shepherd, I lack nothing.”
If you gently open your hands, how does it feel compared to clinched fists?
Relaxed? Peaceful? Relieved? That’s the posture of trust. When faced with the inevitable lack in our lives, we have a choice. We can follow instincts and close our hands in white-knuckled anxiety or open our hands in child-like trust.
What practices might help us move from closehanded anxiety to openhanded trust? Open your hands to receive the good. Have you ever gotten a new shirt and suddenly see people wearing that color or print everywhere you turn? We notice what we pay attention to. Many of us are fatally attracted to bad news. When we focus on potential threats, we often miss the good. Fear and negativity are instinctual, but we can choose to be thankful. “Give thanks in all circumstances.” Both ancient Scripture and contemporary psychology affirm the potency of gratitude.
Take a moment right now to open your hands to receive the good. What are you appreciating about this day and this moment? What can you see, hear, touch, taste, and smell right now that makes you feel alive and connected to what is good? When you look back over your life, where do you see evidence that you are cared for and loved?