As a young teenage boy, a highlight of my summer occurred at great-grandma's cabin. We called it such because great-grandpa long ago passed away, and only great-grandma was left. Going to great-grandma's cabin was commonly referred to as "going up North." Up North existed a plethora of lakes offering endless activities for summer fun. "Our lake" existed where the family cabin sat on the channel waterway connecting Lake Lawrence and Roosevelt Lake. It was in that cabin we "stayed." Whenever telling of my anticipated summer event to a school friend the inevitable question came, "Where you going to stay?"
Anxiety seems a little like that to me. "Where are you staying?" That little apprehensive unease of certain outcomes you're not quite sure about. Where are you staying? Sometimes those little uncertainties grow into suffocating feelings of helplessness. A "What's going to happen now?" develops into sure inexplicable panic.
Concern grows into apprehension, apprehension into worry, worry into fear, fear somehow morphs into trepidation, and trepidation explodes into peacelessness. That kind of anxiety. If that kind of anxiety visits you, Where are you staying upon it's arrival?
Once I asked a homeless person, "Where do you stay?" He restlessly answered, "I stay nowhere, I stay everywhere." Anxiety seems to bare similarities with that homeless gentleman's experience; at least to me.
Where Do You Stay?
When anxiety reaches unhealthy levels I like to ask myself, "Don, where are you staying right now at this very moment of this experience?" It's a good question to ponder.
In Isaiah 26:3 exists a very helpful Bible verse:
"You will keep in perfect peace, Whose mind is stayed on You,
The word "stayed" is very interesting. Isaiah, the prophet who wrote these words lived in a corrupt cultural decaying period of his nation's history. He faced severe economic and security uncertainties throughout his entire life. "Stayed" in the language Isaiah wrote the above phrase is from the Hebrew word סָמַך (Samak). It is used in a variety of ways. It means to, "to lean, lay, rest, support, put, uphold, and lean upon, sustain, or refresh."
It asks questions, "Where is your leaning?" - "Where is your resting?" - "Where is your refreshing?" - "Where is your supporting?" Or, back to great grandma's cabin, "Where is your staying?"
A good diagnostic question asked when confronting anxiety is, "At this very moment, right now in the height of anxiety, where am I staying?" In other words, "Your anxieties about this or that leans towards, or is supported by what assumptions, thoughts, apprehensions, fears, and trepidation?" Where are you staying; right now?
Here's the truth about great-grandma's cabin. That fond place way up in Northern, Minnesota belonged to my great-grandma. She stayed there; not me. While a place of my staying from time to time, growth, maturation, and health required moving onward. My stayed staying placed existed in another place; my place, not great-grandma's. A place of my own yet to discover.
Finding a secured peaceful stayed staying place in this chaotic crazy world is best captured in the "You" of Isaiah 26:3. At least is seems that way to me.
In "You" is my stayed stay staying place.
Just My Thoughts,
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Don was born in North Minneapolis, Minnesota. Having served twenty-two years in South Africa as missionaries with his wife Kathy, and eight years pastoring in the United States, he shares unique perspectives about life, family, relationships, and ministry.