The language of anxiety

By Dave Henning / February 14, 2023

“The language of anxiety is core to understanding calm presence.  Anxiety is usually understood in terms of fear and timidity, but it is not so much about feeling afraid as it is an automatic way of functioning.  Anxiety  . . . flows through all of us, which is why paying attention to the anxious forces within and without us is critically important to developing calm presence.”- Rich Villodas

As Rich Villodas moves on in Chapter 6 of Good and Beautiful and Kind, he observes that a person growing in calm presence pays constant attention to the presence of anxiety.  And we seek to remain present for the sake of love.  Hence, we venture to view ourselves and others as sacred beings who deserve care and respect.

However, Rich notes, that’s easier said than done.  As a result, the author highlights three examples from the Bible about cultivating calm presence – or not.

1.  David and Saul.  In 1 Samuel 17, David demonstrated closeness to himself and closeness to Saul  – in a moment of extreme anxiety.  Above all, Pastor Villodas sees King Saul’s offer of his armor to David as a key moment in the account.

Because David tried on the armor.  Rather than callously distancing himself from Saul.  Consequently, David didn’t allow the anxiety of the moment or Saul’s attempt to control him.  Thoughtful and decisive, David displayed low reactivity.

2.  Aaron and Israel.  In this less healthful example, Moses’ brother Aaron showed a lack of calm presence.  Therefore, Aaron chose to bend to the people’s demands and make a statue of a golden calf.

So, overtaken by the crowd’s anxiety, Aaron fused emotionally with the Israelites, creating a serious lapse of judgment.

3.  Jesus and the crowds.  Jesus provides the ultimate model of cultivating a calm presence.  In times of great anxiety, Jesus remained close to the Father, Himself, and others.

Certainly, Jesus, from a human perspective, made puzzling decisions.  Yet, when He asserted Himself, He always remained close to others.

Today’s question: When do you speak the language of anxiety?  Please share.

Tomorrow’s blog: “Fostering calm presence takes work”

About the author

Dave Henning

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