I’ve never been that much of a worrier. I think most people have some kind of tendency to one psychological trait or other, and I have had close friends who seem to worry about things as a default setting. Worry about things that really don’t matter and worry what other people think as well as more generally anxiety-provoking stuff like job interviews and children taking risks and difficult finances and things. Personally when things get difficult I know I have more of a tendency to feel down and that things are pointless rather than worrying. More of an Eeyore than a Piglet; although I sometimes hide behind being Kanga or Christopher Robin trying to keep an eye on other people.
I do not want to trivialise people’s fears and anxieties. I know many people struggle with mild or more major obsessions checking things and that other people face far more dangerous situations than I do on a regular basis. Some degree of fear is healthy when we are engaging in more extreme activities and perhaps helps keep us alert and safe. Maybe deep down we know if our fears are irrational, and sometimes it takes everything going wrong to show us that, even when what felt like the worst happens, we are stronger than we think. This morning I was called on to cover my colleague’s lecture with very little notice. On arriving at the lecture theatre it appeared the projecting system wasn’t working – the tech guy said there was no sound and seemed uncertain whether even basic slide presenting would be available. The talk included some media clips which would not have worked without sound. Thankfully the technical side of things worked out, but I still had to compete with some very noisy drama students in apparent agony next door. Drama students eh? They must be the worst!
In the event, even all these difficulties were surmountable, and while it wasn’t my best lecture, I got by. In fact I felt quite exhilarated – another colleague agreed that managing to get through something like that makes you feel like you can handle anything. Maybe it’s true that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Putting more of a spiritual slant on it – maybe all things are possible through Christ who gives us strength.
The combination of November weather and dark and a few other things got me down a bit last week. Eventually taking my own advice (see Provoking a Poem) I got a bit creative and found a way of expressing some of the things I was feeling. But it was talking some of that through with a dear friend this weekend that gave me some insight. Despite my noticeable low mood, the main emotion I was experiencing was actually fear. Fear that I might be sinking back to a place I thought I’d left behind. Fear that the progress I know I’ve made over the past few years is actually a sham.
Recognising the fear has actually felt like a breakthrough. I have ideas on how to deal with fear. There are Bible verses and songs that I know which address fear. Somehow trusting God to help me with these fears is more manageable than depression. And returning to the theme of taking my own advice, I ended up doing a mini-preach yesterday drawing on some of the Hoping for Rescue themes and Psalm 40 again. The task of preparing and giving a Christian talk often seems to be more about my own learning than teaching others. The verses shared with me by my supportive friend at lunch-time were the same ones I was drawing on in the evening. I found that pretty encouraging – and hope I was able to pass on a bit of encouragement too. With support from God and the friends and family he’s given us, maybe we can face whatever’s coming next with a bit more confidence.