Running Scared, ch. 4 — “Anxiety and Worry Chime In”

This chapter focuses more specifically on worry and anxiety, as opposed to the more general category of “fear”.  Welch points out a number of things about worriers:

1. Worriers live in the future. “Worriers are visionaries minus the optimism” (50). I have thought about this at times before — that I often find myself thinking of the past or the future. I do often think through possible scenarios and imagine all the worst possibilities of any given and/or possible situation.

2. Worriers are false prophets. This was immensely helpful to me, because it helps to know that I am probably wrong when I worry about something happening. Of course, another suspicion finds its way into my thinking then — the old exception clause. “Well, what if this is the exception to all my unfounded worrying?”

3. Worriers are immune to reason. This is so true. Welch says:

Don’t forget, there is a strange confidence that lies behind all worry. To put it bluntly, worriers don’t listen very well. It takes something more powerful than logic and statistical probabilities to assuage our fear and anxieties (53).

I remember hearing a lesson on Philippians 4, where it says the peace of God which surpasses understanding will guard your heart and mind in Christ Jesus. This follows the directive, “Be anxious for nothing.” The guy who was teaching pointed out that worry does not listen to logic and reasoning, and the Bible claims as much. The Bible promises that the peace of God will guard us, but that such a peace surpasses understanding. I think this is a helpful point, directly related to what Welch is describing in the quote above.

Welch, then, discusses the genetic foundation of worry. I have thought about this a lot, because I have been born into a family of worriers. Here Welch has a very good point about the nature of worry:

Don’t let the rationale, ‘Mom worried a lot,’ be the end of your examination of worry. When you listen to worry and witness its stubborn grasp, you find something that is most assuredly you. You have your reasons for worrying. You have purposes in your anxieties [….] there is an entire worldview implicit in some worry. It cries out about an ultimate aloneness [….] it is likely that even our worry reflects some self-centeredness: “Worry puts the focus on me” (53).

That last sentence is something of a light bulb insight for me. My dad made the same point to me last week, when I was talking to him about some of this stuff. Because we are a lot alike in some of these ways, he said that he has realized the self-centered nature of worry. It is basically just thinking about oneself all the time. I think about myself a lot, my motives, my actions, because basically, I love to think about me myself and I. In some perverted way I have bought into the lie that it is ok to think about myself, especially if I am trying to prevent future catastrophe. But, as Welch says, I am a self-centered, irrational false prophet.

Welch leads into Part Two with this paragraph:

The plan? Here it is so far. Take a hard look at yourself instead of your circumstances when worry is blaring. Ask yourself what you are trusting in. Consider your poor track record for predictions, yet recognize that all these steps, while they may give some hope, still don’t push back the boundaries of fear and worry. Reason alone can’t do it. Face the reality that have to go outside ourselves for an answer and seek the God who is in control (54).

Here is where I have fallen short so often, failing to go outside myself. I have tried, but I have do so ineffectively; because I think I have done it while still focusing on myself. I have been changing my tack since reading through this book. I have started praying for supernatural heart and desire changes, instead of so much trying to talk myself out of worry.

Of course, I have known this. But now it’s starting to make more sense. It’s starting to “click.”

I am trying to seek the God who is in control.

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About Danny Slavich

I am a Christian husband, father, pastor, and poet. I lead Pembroke Road Baptist Church a multi-cultural, multi-generational church in urban South Florida.
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3 Responses to Running Scared, ch. 4 — “Anxiety and Worry Chime In”

  1. Lee says:

    Sounds a lot like negative “self-talk loops” – where you basically function as your own counselor, but using only (or predominantly) emotionally-laden words/concepts which just end up reinforcing themselves.

    For example:
    self-1: my spouse always does ABC
    self-2: that’s right – always!
    self-1: can’t he/she see how this affects me?
    self-2: no, he/she is just not thinking of me!
    self-1: either that, or I’m at fault here…
    self-2: no, I can’t be at fault – this is the same way he/she has always been – he/she has never gotten it right, never will get it right…
    self-1: just like mom/dad/brother/sister!
    self-2: yes, and that was so painful…

    And so on, never allowing for a reality check, never allowing for God’s grace to work, impervious to logic… I’ve been working on breaking out of these when I find myself in the middle of them.

    I like that first point: “Worriers are visionaries minus the optimism”!

  2. dslavich says:

    Yeah, I am a pro at talking with myself about myself. Often, I try to talk myself out of my own worries, but that ends up, like you say, reinforcing them. It only makes me concentrate more on whatever it is I’m worried about, which is not the way to solve the problem. I especially appreciate the last part that I quoted. I am totally stoked to read the rest of this book.

    Did you order it, btw?

  3. Lee says:

    Not yet – I definitely will, though!

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