distraught girl with numerous question marks coming out of her head (thoughts)

Pride Masquerading as Anxiety

I guess I’ve kind of been stuck in one of my uninspired ruts – the last time I posted was 7 weeks ago. At a minimum, I like to challenge myself to write and publish a post once a month. But if I have nothing valuable or important to say, it seems silly to post subpar writing. I confess, you may be about to embark on some “less-than-par” writing in this post.

October was a stressful month, kicked off by an emotional appointment with our fertility doctor. The days after the appointment consisted of a lot of processing about the infertility journey, and trying to decide what steps we did or did not want to take when considering trying to have a second child.

October was also chock-full of too many events. I get stressed out even when there are too many fun events happening. I need down time – though often I’m my own worst enemy when it comes to overscheduling myself. In October it seemed like we had about 10 different Halloween or Fall Festival carnivals (it was probably only 3 or 4 in reality), we had our first-grader’s big school fundraiser, our son (the same aforementioned first-grader) had just joined Cub Scouts and their biggest campout of the year happened to be the third week of October, and to top it all off I ended up needing to go out of town to Nashville for a work event… everything in the world felt like it was crammed into a 4-week time period.

I like being busy. I like hanging out with friends, traveling, and doing meaningful things with my time. But when I get so busy that I can’t do some of the essential things anymore, that’s when I know I’ve gone too far. When it becomes difficult to even have a conversation with my husband (as in, we have to try to schedule a time on the calendar when we can connect), when I don’t have time to workout, when I can’t find the time or energy to grocery shop or cook… those are my red flags signaling me that I’ve overcommitted myself. And I guess I didn’t leave much time for writing the last month or two either.

One of the things I did still make time to do over the last 7 weeks was read. And one thing I read has been mulling over in my head for a while now. I like reading books on spirituality – and I’ve been interested in prayer, so I was reading Timothy Keller’s book Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God. On page 219 (I noted it because I was so struck by his words) Keller says, “it takes pride to be anxious.”

Keller’s point was that anxiety comes about because we are worried that things are not going to go how we want them to (future events), or that things didn’t go how we wanted them to (past events). I guess if you boil down anxiety, that may be an accurate statement, though it doesn’t seem to capture the ruthlessness that anxiety can have in my opinion. For people who have actual anxiety disorders, I feel like this simple definition is not strong enough.

But for myself, I wondered if this definition was true enough? Anxiety for me is worrying about something I don’t have total control of – worrying endlessly because I can’t control the outcome. Or maybe I think that by considering every single worst case scenario, I will somehow be able to prevent bad things from happening? I get frustrated when things don’t go my way because I either feel like a failure, or it’s a reminder of how much I can’t control in the world (which is scary sometimes.)

I worry about my six-year-old son – for his health and safety. It scares me to think how little I control in the world and how vulnerable he is. It’s hard to willingly give up that control, even if I know it must be done in order for him to have a full and meaningful life.

I get anxiety in social interactions – will this person like me? Will I say something stupid? Am I trying too hard to fit in?

I have anxiety about unanswered prayers – why doesn’t God just answer the prayers? Am I not righteous enough? Is it not the right time? Will it ever be the right time?

In the case of unanswered prayers, that’s where the statement of pride fueling anxiety really hits me. Do I not trust God enough to believe that He can work things out for me? Even bad things? Do I really presume that I know best in all situations?

How many different stories and fables are there about the consequences of getting everything you ever wanted? Think of King Midas or other similar “be careful what you wish for” stories.

It’s easy for us in our ignorance and limited views of the world to think a certain thing needs to happen a certain way in order for us to be happy. But living like that is so limiting, and I guess like Keller says, potentially prideful.

So I’m trying to open myself up to different possibilities, to be flexible (maybe even thankful?) when things don’t always go my way. It’s hard, and if I’m honest, I don’t particularly like it. But pretending I know best and that I control everything in the world doesn’t actually change things, despite what I try to tell myself. So I’ll keep mulling over this idea of pride and anxiety, and keep working to trust God more and more in my uncertainty.

What strategies do you use to combat anxiety? Do you agree that anxiety and pride are connected? Let me know what you think below!

One thought on “Pride Masquerading as Anxiety

  1. This was a thought-provoker! Lately whenever I feel anxious about how things might go or have gone, I keep coming back to something my running coach told me. “If there’s a problem and you can’t find a solution, then it’s not a problem because there’s nothing you can do about it. If there’s a problem and you find a solution, then it’s not a problem because you can solve it.” Taking out my ‘what-ifs’ and ‘but-if-thens’ has helped me focus on either finding a solution or letting go of the issue. It’s not easy! But the peace of mind I eventually find is so worth it.

    Liked by 2 people

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