A Prayer for Anxiety
Can any of you by worrying add a moment to your lifespan?
Lord, I humbly ask Your forgiveness,
for I do not wish to be freed from my anxieties.
Perhaps You misunderstood my earlier prayers;
I have not asked that my life be extended,
though I stubbornly note the physiological origin
of anxiety lies in the release of biochemicals
in the brain that put our ancestors on high alert,
expressly for the purpose of extending their lives.
Such was not my concern. I simply worried
that the instability threatening all of the middle class,
that a single ill-timed accident or frailty of health
might cost a job and thus the means to provide for my family.
It seems to me not an unreasonable worry,
to plan ahead, to proactively arrange for measures
to pay the mortgage, to buy the groceries,
to fill the tank with gasoline, no less a necessity.
Lord, forgive me if I champion the value of anxiety,
its self-defining virtues and the physical rewards
it presents in terms of keeping my family
together, well fed, warm under a dry roof.
I know You admonished us to model our behavior
after the ravens of sky and the lilies of the field,
but, given the limits of my human understanding,
I find this advice to be woefully misguided.
Lord, I have no desire to live at the mercy of the weather,
to be wet when You order the rains or to be cold
when You coat the lands with snow. I shall not test
the reliability of he who fills the birdfeeder with seed.
Rather, I shall comfort myself with my anxiety.
The sour twist in my stomach shall remind me
that I willfully chose the manner in which I live.
The restless thoughts that plague the hours
of the early dawn when, waking alone,
I think only of maneuvers by which I might
prevent a doom that destroys my family,
I shall not surrender to You, O Lord,
though Your instructions in this matter left no room
for interpretation. I shall continue to worry,
saving the best of my anxiety for that which I cannot control,
my tentative introduction to oblivion at Your hand.
A Prayer for Anxiety
September 29, 2014