“Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, so that he may exalt you in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:6-7 NRSV).
I am drawn to these words today because I am a Benedictine who loves Chapter 7 in The Rule of Saint Benedict; and because I live with Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD).
Before I continue on, I want to give a very strong word of advice to Priests, Ministers, Preachers, Spiritual Directors, etc. Never tell a person with any kind of anxiety disorder to just hand it over, do not be anxious and all will be fine. It never works that way. In fact, the more things like that are said, the more anxious a person with an anxiety disorder gets; because she/he just can’t measure up to the high expectations. There is a false sense of guilt for things the individual is not responsible for. People with anxiety disorders upon hearing “do not be anxious” will shy away from the advice and the advisor.
I am drawn to these words from 1 Peter because I do have an anxiety disorder. Just giving over anxiety in prayer helps relieve it, but it is never completely gone. When I read the words, ” Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, so that he may exalt you in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you.,” I hear the Spirit drawing me in with everything that I am and experiencing, accepting me with God’s extravagant love; with a home in Christ that is safe, and offers me consolation.
We are now in the time in our Liturgical Year between the Ascension and Pentecost. The Apostles who lost Jesus once in His Crucifixion, were so happy after He was raised from the dead; now find themselves with Jesus gone again. Can we just imagine for a moment the anxiety they must have experienced? They were in a no win situation, until after Pentecost when the Holy Spirit came upon them.
The contemplative is drawn through these words to relinquish everything that is shaking us up, and trust in God with humility. It is time to stop trying to handle it all ourselves. It is time for us to stop thinking that all this stuff defines who we are. It is time to sit in silence, with all the noise within and let the Holy Spirit bring a peace into our hearts, because we are in the Presence of the God who cares about what shakes us to pieces, and is somewhere in the middle of it all. In humility we are not being asked to measure up. On the contrary, the Holy One is lovingly and tenderly moving us to let it go. God is telling us “It is okay. You are not alone. Let us work through this together.”
“Let a [person] consider that God is always looking at him from heaven” (St. Benedict’s Rule for Monasteries, p.22).
How are you managing the anxieties of your life as you sit in the presence of God?
Brother Anselm Philip King-Lowe, OSB