My earliest childhood memories do not include having a father. My parents divorced when I was a baby, and I’ve often said that if I ran into my biological father on the street, I wouldn’t know him. Sadly, he wouldn’t know me either. As a father myself, I find this a disorienting concept — as though you are forever disassociated from some part of yourself.
I believe that as a child, that sense of disassociation was at the core of my anxieties. I do know that throughout my life the feeling of abandonment has loomed large — even when surrounded by people who love me. It wasn’t until I became a parent, however, that I really ran up against the barrier that chronic anxiety can place in the way of the joy we should all feel as the creations of a loving God. Just as any disability teaches us coping skills, mine were typically expressed as brazen self-confidence and extroversion. That’s more than just an imminent front, as I’m a pretty optimistic person by nature, but anxiety still rears its ugly head, and I sometimes find it hard to summon the energy to push back on it.
What becoming a Christian has done for how I cope with anxiety has been to remind me that there is a difference between walking a tightrope 30 feet above the ground with no net, and knowing that should you fall there will always be something to catch you. That something is God’s love, as revealed by Jesus. The ever-present proof of God’s love in the world takes a lot of pressure off me and my ego.
Lord, thank you for your love, and for being the net we can fall into when our fears and anxieties disrupt our balance. Your grace is proof that although we can never be assured we will not suffer, we know we will never be abandoned. Amen.