“I am the true vine,* and my Father is the vine grower. He takes away every branch in me that does not bear fruit, and every one that does he prunes so that it bears more fruit. You are already pruned because of the word that I spoke to you. Remain in me, as I remain in you. Just as a branch cannot bear fruit on its own unless it remains on the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing. Anyone who does not remain in me will be thrown out like a branch and wither; people will gather them and throw them into a fire and they will be burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you. By this is my Father glorified, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples. As the Father loves me, so I also love you. Remain in my love." - John 15: 1-9
As many of you probably already know, when I was in university I was diagnosed with a Generalized Anxiety Disorder. I went through this big ordeal with assessments from the university, the government to qualify for funding, and then finally a psychologist. It's not self-diagnosed. It's a legit thing. I have taken medication, gone / go to counselling, and use many different strategies to help with it.
Interestingly, however, with hindsight being as 20/20 as it is, I have realized a couple of things that have made me think about this issue a bit differently.
Now, to be clear, I am not proposing a direct correlation or even a causation here, but something is going on. I am also very much not proposing that all anxiety can be "prayed away" or solved by having a great relationship with God. I know first hand that anxiety is real and it sucks. That being said, I am also not saying it is too big for God to heal. Nothing is impossible for God.
But at the same time, looking back at the past year, I couldn't help but wonder: How much of my increasing anxiety am I causing myself? I don't doubt that I have an anxiety disorder. My dad is an anxious guy and so was his dad. However, how much of my growing anxiety am I causing myself by disconnecting from the vine?
Right now I am doing Exodus 90. Part of it is daily prayer. What have I noticed? The more time I spend in prayer, the less anxious I am during the day. What happens if I drop the ball and don't pray? Anxiety.
Many times in Scripture, Jesus gives us promises of what He will do if we go to Him:
I really appreciate how Jesus was not the only one to say these things. It seems like it was passed down to St. Peter and then to St. Paul. Most of these examples talk about us going to the Lord and Him doing something to help us. If we believe that Scripture is the inspired word of God, then can't we believe that it is true? Can't we believe that Jesus will fulfill these promises?
My challenge to myself from now on is to reconnect and stay connected to the vine. Without staying connected, we wither and cannot bear fruit. I don't know about you, but when I am super anxious, I feel withered and I don't feel like I can bear much fruit. Jesus promises if we remain in him, we will bear fruit. We cannot do anything without him. We are instructed over and over to remain in his love.
Over the next year, I am going to focus on remaining connected to the vine. I am not looking to prayer to "fix" me or my anxiety. However, I am interested in finding out how much of my anxiety is caused by my heart being disconnected from it's purpose to know God, love God, serve God, and be united with Him in heaven. St. Augustine talks about our hearts growing restless until they rest in God. Where else could we go for amazing peace than to spend time with our Father who relentlessly loves us to the point of death. Where else is this perfect peace and love available? Nowhere.
Hang in there. Stay connected.
Do you struggle with anxiety? What strategies do you use to help? Have you ever thought of it this way?
If you have, and you've tried it, did staying connected to the vine increase your peace? Comment below!
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Lance, Katie, & Dan.