How Anxiety Distracts Us From God

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 The Noticer

Let me be a noticer of things in your world
instead of a dweller of my inner thoughts,
worries, and selfish longings
that only keep me distracted from you.

For when I uproot myself out of the present moment
and plant my focus on myself,
I rob myself of the joy
of witnessing your glory and beauty
all around me.

I have always been a highly observant person, picking out minor details that others often miss. On my morning walk in the woods today I noticed an old, wooden beam with rusted barbwire wrapped around the edges that had clearly once been a fence post. The problem was that I’d walked this path dozens of times before. Worse, it only stood a few inches off the trail.

What may seem an unimportant observation worried me. I should have noticed this a long time ago. But then again, maybe I’m not quite as observant as I once was…not since anxiety and worry have become a constant companion.

I sat there looking at that fence post, noticing for the first time the rotting wood and the crumbling decay of age. In my perifocal view I then noticed a bee hovering around a flower and insects crawling along the earth. I was struck with the realization that I have formed a habit of being so stuck inside my head observing my anxieties and worries that I have lost an awareness of the world around me.

I’ve decided I’m still a highly observant person; I’ve just been preoccupied with the wrong details. Anxiety and worry cause us to retreat inward, focusing on only our thoughts and feelings, preparing for the “what ifs” of the future. In the process they rob us of the joy and experience of life in the present moment.

God dwells in the here and now. God speaks in the present. God walks with us in this moment. When we try to place ourselves in the future, we make no room for God. For the future is determined by His will, not ours. And that is what anxiety and fear inspire us to do, don’t they? To just sprint past God and try to prepare, plan, and control what happens next. We lack faith in God’s providence, so we seek out our own providence. We are finite creatures who are not built to withstand that kind of responsibility. When we put ourselves in control of managing our future, we collapse under the weight of worry.

Even more importantly, when we are constantly distracted by our worries and removed from the here and now, we miss out on the wonderful experience of witnessing God’s glory and beauty all around us.  The beauty of a sunset, the feeling of the wind against your skin, the magic of the leaves changing colors, the love in another’s eyes, the wisdom God passes on in seemingly unimportant things.

It’s a hard fight to pull yourself out of your own head and leave all the worrying behind. It’s maybe an even harder fight to trust in God. But there are opportunities for redemption all around us, yet we have to be attentive to the present moment to recognize them. If we remain focused on the incessant cycle of self-centered thoughts, we deny ourselves the gift of seeing God’s divine presence right here, right now.

-Post and Poem Written by Justin Farley

Nature Poem About Walking in the Woods

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Walking through the Forest – A Poem About Nature

To walk through the forest
and see sunlight shinning through the trees
is like a cool, refreshing breeze
to the spirit sweltering beneath
the heat of worldly troubles.

To walk through the forest
and observe nature’s mysterious order
is like a wall erected in the path of disorder,
calming the chaotic thoughts
in the mind of modern man.

To walk through the forest
and witness untainted beauty
is like relieving the watchman from his duty –
worry retreats into the void to sleep
while I gaze upon the work of divine hands.

 

-Poem Written by Justin Farley

Internal Fire – A Poem

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Smoke fills the lungs.
Warning signals run in desperation to alert the mind
in a race that’s become all too familiar.
Flames engulf my entrails
like dry twigs thrown on a campfire on an August night.
In frantic panic, eyes search for aid,
but people pass by as if nothing were amiss.
Surely someone must feel the heat…
Can’t anyone see the fire that burns bright in these eyes?
Doesn’t anyone know the smell of the human spirit
cooking in the oven of fear or hear it’s cry,
wailing when touched by the torch
like a colonial witch burned at the stake?

My mind is already alight,
pulsing in agony,
raging like a wounded animal hobbling through the forest,
flapping my wings like a madman trying to put out invisible flames.
I wait out the blaze until every drop of fuel
has been burnt up within me.
My mind is now only simmering instead of boiling.
My brain’s fire has had it’s excess oxygen removed and dwindles.
But the coals of Hell have taken their toll.
I have been branded,
internally marked as different from society –
part man, part beast,
forced to carry these hideous scars,
these burns that have been seared upon my soul,
feeling like a traveling circus on display for all to see.

The internal fire is felt,
but remains unseen.
Daily situations necessary for living in modern society
are tiny sparks that land upon the mind’s kindling,
never knowing when flames will roar up
and engulf my essence once again,
always burning with too much heat,
and I never have enough water.

-Poem Written by Justin Farley