Anxiety is a tough thing. It creeps up when you least expect it, and it does not readily leave. It is easy to let fear and anxiety overtake us and nestle their place into our minds. But if we trust in God’s plan and know that we are enough no matter our circumstances, what power does anxiety hold over us?
As a high school senior, I get asked a myriad of questions. Questions about what college I will attend, what major I will study and what profession I want to pursue. I am used to the questions, and I am ready for them: “I am going to the University of Arkansas, majoring in nursing. I want to go on missionary trips to help those in need with my medical skills.” I know that this plan I have for my life is not guaranteed. God may have a different plan.
However, in my first semester of senior year, behind those words was a hidden fear under my mask of confidence. What if I failed my classes? What if I never made it into nursing school, and I had to leave Fayetteville to go to a different college? What if I lost my faith in college? I’d planned out my life so exactly that the probability that something could go differently was almost 100 percent. I left no room for God’s input because I knew what I wanted to do, and I was scared he did not want the same. I had told so many people that if I did not actually meet this goal, I was not only failing myself but my parents, my siblings and everyone I told about my plans.
I have had anxiety in the past, but this time it felt different. Anxiety controlled me. It disturbed my sleep, messed with my emotions and created so much fear toward my future that I could not think of anything else, including God. When I let myself drown in fear, I left him out of the picture, implying that this problem was the one thing that he was not big enough to fix. In prayer, I told God that I trusted in his plan for me, then the next day, I would text my sister, bombarding her with questions about what I would do if I failed all my classes in college. Uncertainties overwhelmed my mind and my heart.
This past November, my youth group held a worship and praise event in the middle of the school week. I almost skipped it, claiming I had too much homework, but I knew that all I needed was to sit in God’s presence, so I drove to my church and sat in the very back to be alone. When the music began, I was moved to go to reconciliation. I stepped into the confessional, and I barely got three words out when I started crying uncontrollably. I confessed that I had been so stressed recently that I had forgotten to rely on God and I had placed insincere trust in him. In that confessional, I felt myself let go. Let go of the fear. Let go of the anxiety. Let go of control. Because he was a family friend, the priest knew that I held myself to high standards. For my penance, he told me to pray 10 Hail Marys and, at the end of each, thank God for “making me enough.”
When I left the confessional, I sat down in my pew, and I prayed those 10 Hail Marys. As I said, “Thank you, God, for making me enough,” I felt the presence of Jesus kneeling next to me, holding my hand. I looked to the monstrance on the altar, and I saw Jesus’s eyes staring back into mine, telling me I am enough for him.
I still struggle with uncertainty, but now I know how to handle it. When I start to have fears, the first thing that I do is recenter my mind on Jesus. Anxiety often strikes when overwhelmed, causing God’s presence to be overshadowed by my “to-do” lists. Putting God at the center of my mind gives clarity and peace. Sit in the presence of Jesus, and anxiety and fear will have no choice but to bow to his greatness. “When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy.” (Psalms 94:19)
Annie Wendel, who graduated May 24 from Mount St. Mary Academy, attends Christ the King Church in Little Rock. Her brother, Deacon Daniel Wendel, is being ordained a priest May 28.
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