Signposts: Daily Devotions

Saturday, February 7

Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
—Philippians 4:6

When you are filled with dread or anxiety, how do you feel when someone says, “Don’t worry”? It drives me wild! Whatever worry I have spikes higher, and I feel dismissed and even stupid.

For instance, I am afraid to fly, even though I travel a lot. I have tried every form of therapy, analysis and medication available, but the fear remains. My dear husband, who falls asleep on takeoff, regularly tells me not to worry, and that only makes matters worse.
I even worry that I will never get over this fear. (Incidentally, the best book I have ever read on the subject of fearful flying is called White Knuckles. It has helped me tremendously. I take it along on most flights, where it has elicited interesting looks from other passengers.)

One day, very discouraged, I said to a counselor, “I thought I was doing better, but last time I flew, all the old anxieties came rushing back. Will I EVER fly without fear?” He smiled and said, “Maybe not. Some of it will probably always be there, so when it does flare up, why don’t you take it out, sit it on your lap, and talk to it? Talk to your fear and let it talk back to you, and see what happens.”

On my next flight, I did what he said, and was amazed at how much better I felt. (This can be done in your imagination, of course. Reading White Knuckles is one thing; talking to yourself out loud is quite another.)

When I read these words of St. Paul’s to the Philippians, I remembered the counselor’s advice. St. Paul isn’t just telling them not to worry. He also gives them a way to deal with their concern, like the counselor gave me. They can talk with God. In facing their fears, naming them, and trusting in a loving God, they (and all of us) feel much better and more at peace.

Loving God, give us courage to face our fears and to embrace them. Above all, help us to trust your protection and compassion. Amen.