The Anxiety of Life
Author: Alice Cheng
The fast and efficient metropolitan model has improved people’s materialistic lifestyle, but it also greatly increases our levels of fear and anxiety. In fact, the metropolis represents a combination of desire and fear. Interests and fears dominate the lives of all citizens.
Facing change and limitations
We often encounter various challenges or adversities in life, including health, education, work, marriage, family, property, unexpected difficulties and setbacks, etc. The busyness of work and a large amount of affairs and information we consume every day are overwhelming. Moreover, we have to deal with the chaotic state of this world, such as natural and man-made disasters, rapid changes in society, complicated politics, the spread of diseases, virus mutations, and so on and so forth. Faced with changes in the external environment and one’s personal limitations, fear and anxiety are unavoidable. This is because we are afraid of losing the guarantees that we depend on to maintain a good living – life, health, work, income, property, ability, relationships and quality of life, and more.
Breaking through fear and anxiety
Fear and anxiety are inseparable. Fear can be a stumbling block or a stepping stone. Negative fear makes people selfish, greedy, sorrowful, or become cold and indifferent. Positive fear, on the other hand, produces precautionary and protective knowledge and wisdom, as well as caring actions and implementations. Some ways to break through unnecessary anxieties include increasing preparedness, referencing experiences, familiarizing the environment, honing our skills, adjusting expectations, reducing desires, simplifying affairs, and avoiding unnecessary comparisons. We should be flexible and gentle when dealing with different people and issues. Our anxieties may be relieved by doing exercise, being close to nature, enjoying our hobbies, tasting good food, meeting friends, or reading independently.
Embracing existential anxiety
When the song ends and the night gets quiet, you will feel an indescribable anxiety deep in your heart, urging you to ponder and ask questions about the meaning of existence. For example: Who am I? Why did I come to this world? What am I living for? As a matter of fact, you are born to be unique, and thus no one can fully understand you, which alludes to ultimate loneliness. You are born with desires, but nothing can truly satisfy you, which alludes to ultimate emptiness. You are born to die, but you do not want to die, which alludes to ultimate fear. However, since this existential anxiety has been built into my soul – let me embrace it, cherish life, discover my unique self and embody the meaning of life.
Refuge in the Lord who created you
Even the best romantic love cannot be the answer to existential anxiety. Human beings instinctively desire intimacy, and often think that the relationship of love and mutual dependence embodies the whole meaning of existence. It turns out that interpersonal relationships can act as both support and harm in our lives; it can either alleviate our anxiety or create anxiety. If someone replaces God’s central position in his life with something else, this position is eternally misplaced, which will surely lead to an increase in anxiety. The Lord Jesus understands you and you are not alone. The love of the Lord can satisfy your heart, and you no longer feel emptiness. The Lord Jesus has risen from the dead, has accomplished salvation, and has given the hope of eternal life – you no longer fear death.
“For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.” (1 John 2:16-17 NIV)
“My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” (Psalm 73:26 NIV)
Author’s credentials: Bachelor at Overseas Theological Seminary, Master of Pastoral Counseling at Chinese Mission Seminary, Former minister at Hong Kong Christ Evangelical Church and Hiulai Church