“The Lord’s Divine Providence Has as Its Goal a Heaven from the Human Race. I have explained elsewhere that heaven did not originate in angels who were created angels at the beginning, and that hell did not originate in a devil who was created an angel of light and was cast down from heaven. Rather, both heaven and hell are from the human race. Heaven is made up of people who are involved in a love for what is good and a consequent discernment of what is true, and hell of people who are involved in a love for what is evil and a discernment of what is false.” (Divine Providence 27)
Over the last 10 years I have been learning that I often have pretty high anxiety levels. As silly as it feels in some ways, this has been something that I’ve actually had to discover about myself. It is something I’ve probably dealt with my whole life, but my years at high school and then University tipped the scales to higher anxiety, and I’ve been working to understand and find balance in the years since then. At this point in my life the anxiety comes and goes, but ultimately is on an improving spiral, I think. Maybe I’ll bottom out again at some point, but for now I feel like with each round of higher anxiety I figure out some new piece of what causes stress and anxiety for me and how I hold it.
One of the theories that has been useful to me is mindfulness. Mindfulnet.org describes mindfulness as “a way of paying attention to, and seeing clearly whatever is happening in our lives. It will not eliminate life’s pressures, but it can help us respond to them in a calmer manner that benefits our heart, head, and body. It helps us recognise and step away from habitual, often unconscious emotional and physiological reactions to everyday events. It provides us with a scientifically researched approach to cultivating clarity, insight, and understanding. Practicing mindfulness allows us to be fully present in our life and work, and improve our quality of life.” I have only learned about it through my own reading and talking with my Dad, who uses mindfulness in his work as a counsellor and pastor. Even without always knowing the right terminology It is something that has made a big difference to me, and helped me to know what to do when experiencing high anxiety. Breathing deeply. Focusing on the present moment and what is actually happening.
Along with that a deeper level that has helped me is focusing on what really matters to the Lord. The Lord cares about me. The Lord cares about me eternally. Like the passages at the beginning describe, He’s not worried about the little things that may go wrong, or mistakes I may make, He is concerned with the things I am doing over all. He will be there no matter what. He cares about the end game. And if I focus properly, I can care that way too. I can let go of the fears about the small little daily things. I can let go of an interaction I handled badly. I can let go of the fact that I let someone down, or I got angry at my kids, or I worked myself up into being irrationally afraid they were going to get hurt playing a game. I can care only that I am learning and growing and trying things, and the Lord will guide me on if I let Him. I can also care only about the end game and let these smaller things go. And when I focus on these things I calm down and feel the peace in knowing that Someone far greater than I is taking care of the things that really matter.
“The primary end of order is that man should be an image of God; consequently he should become more and more perfect in love and wisdom, and thus more and more an image of God. God is continually working to produce this result in man; but without free will in spiritual matters, which enables a person to turn towards God and link himself in turn with Him, it would be labour in vain, since it would be impossible.” (True Christian Religion 500)