Over the past 2 weeks, how often have you been bothered by the following problems?
0 = not at all 1 = several days 2 = more than half the days 3= nearly every day
1. Feeling nervous, anxious, or on edge
2. Not being able to stop or control worrying
3. Worrying too much about different things
4. Having trouble relaxing
5. Being so restless that it’s hard to sit still
6. Becoming easily annoyed or irritable
7. Feeling afraid, as if something awful might happen
Add up your scores and how did you do? Total score – 5 to 9 = mild anxiety , 10-14 moderate anxiety, 15-21 severe anxiety (probably warranting treatment)
· This comes from a recent NE Journal of Medicine article on Generalized Anxiety Disorder.
· Clearly the article was published to help doctors get a better handle on what appears to be a growing problem – anxiety.
· The article begins with this case study:
A 46-year-old married woman presents with insomnia, headaches, muscle tension, and back pain. She describes a long-term pattern of worrying about several life situations, including health, finances, and her job, and she notes increased anxiety associated with her teenager’s leaving home to attend college. She drinks alcohol daily to reduce the tension and help her sleep. In reviewing her history, you note that she has visited your office many times over the past year because of physical symptoms. What do you advise?
· For many of us this hits a little too close to home. For, although we may not be clinically anxious, many, if not most of us face a growing level of anxiety in our lives. I’ve said this many times but, my friends, we are chronically anxious.
· Edwin Friedman in his book Failure of Nerve describes our current reality…
“…the raging anxiety storms of our time”
“…chronic anxiety that ricochets from sea to shining sea”
“Our neurosis has become nationalized.” (mentally ill)
Edwin Friedman, Failure of Nerve
Why? What’s behind the stress storms?
(1) Work/life Balance
From: Stressed, Tired, Rushed: A Portrait of the Modern Family , New York Times (Reporting on a new Pew Research Center survey)
· family structure has permanently changed – sharp increase in two parent full time working families.
· public policy, workplace structure and mores have not seemed to adjust to a norm in which both parents work.
· People are having difficulty of balancing it all. Working parents say they feel stressed, tired, rushed and short on quality time with their families and passions.
You basically just always feel like you’re doing a horrible job at everything. You’re not spending as much time with your baby as you want, you’re not doing the job you want to be doing at work, you’re not seeing your friends hardly ever. Aimee Barnes, 33, married mother of a toddler
In his book Essentialism, Greg McKeown calls our lives frenzied, frenetic nonsense. He says our stress is going up and our quality of life is going down.
You’re trying to do it all.
You’re making a millimeter of progress in a million directions.
You’re living by default and not by design.
You’re making choices reactively.
You’re unable to distinguish the vital few from the trivial many.
You are engaged in the undisciplined pursuit of more.
The things you tell yourself are: “ I have to.” “It’s all important.” “How can I fit it all in?”
Greg McKeown, Essentialism:
(2) Status Frenzy
Status = social standing. Status is who I am to others or who I am in comparison to others.
· It is eating us alive. Many (especially younger folks) are addicted to it.
A few days ago the podcast This American Life examined this new status anxiety – especially among young girls.
· it was fascinating and terrifying – parents you must listen to it.
· Many, many young teen girls enter into the addiction of status through instagram and snapchat.
· Here’s how it works…
o A girl posts a selfie, then waits. And complicated social “dance” complete with its own language and unspoken social responsibilities ensues
o Key phrases that every selfie posting girl needs to hear are: you’re beautiful, hot, or gorgeous. Or…“you’re so pretty…I hate you”…I’m going to throw you on the traintracks
§ comments must happen within 10 min.
§ good response – 130-150 likes and dozens of comments
§ comment on the comments – unspoken social responsibilities to respond
§ people also check other people’s comments to see who like them…to see the “social map”…and a diagram of where all stand with everyone else…in real time
o “it’s like a job” “I am a brand” “I have to stay relevant” (big word – people care about what you are doing)
§ before posting they run it by close friends
o and this all begins in 6th grade.
Recently 18 year old Essena O’Neill, an 18-year-old from Australia determined to extricate herself from the madness and anxiety…
Let’s call this my snowballing addiction to be liked by others. Essena O’Neill, 18
Teen girls – you get this. But all the rest of you pay attention. All of us measure our lives against others…all the time. All of us are stressed, to some extent, by status anxiety!
· Status as measured by your child’s achievements. “Immortality symbols”
· Status as measured by how you look.
· Status as measured by your job, income, personal success.
· And even status as measured by social media.
So…work/life balance plus status frenzy and add to that a thr5id source of anxiety:
(3) Life happens
· broken relationships
· financial difficulties
· health issues
· past failures and disappointments that won’t go away
America has become so chronically anxious that our society has gone into emotional regression. Edwin Friedman (becoming emotionally more immature)
What’s the answer? Is there one?
· Christmas will help! Nope.
· Comfort food, shopping jags, sleeping pills, alcohol, hot baths, naps, and binge TV series watching only mask the anxiety…
You need something more…something deeper…something long lasting, something that will permanently altar the raging anxiety of my soul…
Let me show you what that might be…
Matthew 11:28-30 page ___________
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. Matthew 11:28-30
· A time of crazy cultural anxiety – people feeling besieged.
· In the middle of this comes Jesus – healing and deliverance.
· Yet, it doesn’t seem to be enough for some who doubt him and demand more signs. Jesus, clearly frustrated“you want me to keep pulling rabbits outa my hat”
· And Jesus seemingly in agitation turns to His Father in prayer…and then looks at the crowd and says… Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.
Let’s cut through the noise and the chaos and the turmoil…Listen to me…Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.
What did he mean?
If you are…
· weary = working so hard you are worn out
· burdened = overloaded – like an animal
I will give you…
· Rest here means – stop, pause, relax, refresh and then return to life with new passion.
(1) “come to me” – lit. “come here”
· you can’t stay where you are if you want rest.
· you can’t keep doing what you are doing and expect a different outcome – that’s insanity.
· you must change direction = repentance is necessary
· you must trust me over every other authority.
o belief and surrender – mind/heart/will
(2) “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me”
· What yoke is he referring to? A human yoke that enabled people to haul stuff. It’s a metaphor.
· His point: Everybody has a yoke we lift every day…
o family responsibilities
o cultural expectations
o Note: these are in many ways the sources of our anxiety
· His intention: …replace that yoke with my yoke…
o submit yourself to my direction – take your cues from me
o follow my lead
o become my disciple – do what I do and what I say…
· Why?: For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." and “I am gentle and humble in heart”
o my yoke is not a heavy religious yoke like the Pharisees
o my yoke is simple, practical and graceful
o I am not demanding or overbearing
…and you will find rest for your souls.
Now this is a beautiful and vivid picture but practically. How does the yoke of Jesus actually lighten the anxiety? …and… How do you go about it?
How does the yoke of Jesus actually lighten the anxiety?
· When you come to Jesus you get a clean slate
o forgiveness and removal of guilt
o past no longer controls the present or future.
· When you come to Jesus you receive his presence
o he enters into your life
o you get a new inner helper
o it’s like a personal counselor
· When you come to Jesus you get a new priority system
o He will direct you to what is essential
o He will reshape your values
Seriously, ask anyone who has done this…is this true?...
How do you go about “coming to Jesus and taking his yoke”?
(1) Have a moment of surrender
· tell him this is what you want – right now if you’d like! He’s here!
(2) Have a conversation with someone who has done this
· a friend
· a parent
· a pastor
Look…the time has come for you to be released from the chronic anxiety and stress.. Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.