A timely book arrived in the mail last week and I happen to have some time to read it all in one day. The book? Rhett Smith‘s The Anxious Christian: Can God Use Your Anxiety for Good? What I love about this book is how Rhett vulnerably and honestly reveals his own life story, how anxiety has been a traveling companion throughout much of his life, even how it showed up as stuttering and near-paralysis before public speaking.
All too often well-intentioned Christian ministry leaders / preachers / teachers / people give encouragement with pithy sayings and the quoting the Bible verses, without the demands of genuine compassion that requires entering in and walking alongside someone’s pain and confusion. (cf. Overcoming Anxiety: Dealing with Anxiety and Worry) If you’d not been schooled in the right-of-center flavor of Christianity, the answer to life is always: Jesus, Bible and prayer, not necessarily in that order.
Thank you Rhett for taking a whole different approach, a very personal one at that. By sharing your life and the things you’ve learned along the way, it draws me relationally and I’m freed to know that my own anxiety is not necessarily coming from a place of doubting God and I’m not someone to be fixed per se. And more than that, anxiety can be invitation from God towards a more rewarding faith.
My confession: This book came timely for me as I’d been simmering about anxiety in my life, not in a paralyzing manner from an overwhelming number of choices, but more of an annoying nagging feeling. My anxiety seems to be recurring about performance, and the discomfort of having to evaluate my work, or worse, to have others evaluate it.
Whether I success or not, or could do better, or am celebrated for excellence, there’s that thing about performance evaluation that I just plain don’t like. That’s all I got to say about that right now.
[disclosure: I received a complementary review copy]