Monday, October 10, 2016

Killing Anxiety Before it Kills You (Part 2).

"Unpredictability produces high levels of anxiety."
 - Mark Batterson from "Chase The Lion"

When I saw the subtitle of Mark Batterson's book,"If Your Dream Doesn't Scare You, It's Too Small",  I had a rather strong reaction.  It came at the height of anxiety and I didn't feel in the mood to "dream big". Well if that's the criteria for judging the size of a dream, then my dream is plenty big enough, I mumbled.

I love to underline key thoughts when I'm reading a book and since I've underlined most of Batterson's book, I guess you could say I'm finding it helpful in spite of my initial reaction. I agree with him - unpredictability does produce high levels of anxiety. 

For instance, last year around this time, my husband and I knew we were facing several costly medical procedures. Like many self-employed Americans, our medical insurance has been anything but affordable and since we had just signed up for another plan suggested by our insurance agent to keep in line with the government requirements, we found our anxiety levels increased because we weren't absolutely positive that our insurance would cover all that we needed to have done. What if we'd end up paying the whole thing ourselves? 

Looking back to this time last year, I can see that we made it through ok. So many fears are unfounded, yet they feel so real.

That leads me to my next tip for killing anxiety. 

"Take life one moment at a time."

Others tell me they are inspired by watching me go after my dream. It makes them want to try and work at their dream. I usually sarcastically tell them to go and work at Walmart. It would be much easier to just punch a clock, work for someone else, and go home. I'm learning to take this one moment at a time.

I'm glad someone else is inspired because there are many "uninspiring moments" about this dream and they are usually the unpredictable ones that cause the most anxiety. Remember, he said that unpredictability produces high levels of anxiety?

Here are just some of the unpredictable elements of the dream:
  • Ticket sales 
  • Attendance
  • Weather
  • Health 
Ticket Sales:

Since the concert is a very big expense, ticket sales are important! Marketing, musicians, sheet music, lighting and sound are just a few of the expenses. But I won't know until the night of December 10, exactly how many tickets I've sold (unless it sells out ahead of time) so why worry about it in this moment? 

In 2014, I was afraid no one would come. 400 people came.

In 2015 I was afraid people wouldn't come back. But people came back and brought friends and we had over 730 people.

Guess what tries to make me afraid this year? Yep - same old thing. It's just part of chasing the lion.


Even if people buy tickets, I don't know what things may come up in their lives to prevent them from actually coming. No one can control circumstances, so why do I worry about how many will be able to come? It's out of my control completely. I won't change it by worrying about it.

In fact, just in the past few months, three people I care about have passed away rather suddenly. One of them attended my past two concerts. I am sure she didn't know when she came last year that it would be her last year. That's how unpredictable life is. For that matter, this could be MY last concert.


The weather? Well, yeah, that's a real deal breaker! But I can't control the weather either, so why do I worry about it in this moment? It's taking up energy and brain space that could be put to better use.


What if I get sick? Lose my voice? I could borrow Ironman's suit and be completely protected from all germs, but it's hard to practice the piano with iron hands. 

You probably think I'm getting a little detailed - but that's how detailed our fears can be and now you know some of my secret fears. It helps to name them.

It's tempting to wait until I do something really successful and amazing and THEN tell you what I was afraid of, but somehow it seems more powerful if you know it as it's all happening - whether it succeeds or not. You get to see the struggle as well as the joy.

I close with some challenging words from Jesus: 

“That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? 

Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?

And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?

So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today."

Does this mean I don't prepare for the concert, or work hard from morning until evening practicing, praying, promoting? NO! 

I work hard in case tomorrow comes 
and I worry none in case it doesn't. 

So these days my prayer moments go kind of like this:

"Father, thank you that in this moment, I have everything I need. I have bills coming up that need paid, but they aren't due today, therefore, why give them any thought. I am alive and well in this moment and that's all I am really guaranteed....this moment. Yesterday is history and tomorrow may never come for me. I am at peace now in this moment. You said not to worry about tomorrow, so I choose not to. 

You also said "don't let your heart be troubled", so I'm choosing peace in this moment. Hey little heart of mine, it's going to be ok - don't be troubled!"

If I do that each moment, next thing I know, the day is over and I've made it through and peace is reigning in my heart. Tomorrow, if I wake up, I'll do it all over again, until this battle is done. Will you join me?