When You Become the Author of Your Own Anxiety

This past July God spoke to me.

No, really.

You see, last July I decided to sell my house.

I know what you’re thinking. You need a bit more proof than that.

 

Well for anyone that knows me, they know I like to tinker. It’s hard for me to sit still. In fact being “still” has always been a bit of a challenge for me. I’ll go sit in a chair and within minutes I’m thinking of “things” that could be done, or projects that seem necessary.

Tinkering is defined as “an attempt to repair or improve something in a casual or desultory way, often to no useful effect.”

For me these repair-and-improve projects take the shape of changing or updating my home and landscape.

For the past 14 years of owning my home I think I painted each room in the house at least five times, each time declaring the new color was far better than its predecessor.

I changed almost every lighting fixture, faucet, and floor and wall tile. Outside I changed the yard that had one tree and a single rusty shed into an overgrown forest of trees, shrubs, flowers, and multiple sheds. I think I might have even given Bigfoot a place to reside. I know he’s in the backyard…somewhere.

And throughout all of this tinkering and completely unnecessary updating of my home and landscape (which I’ll never admit to out loud), if anyone would have told me, “you should consider selling your house”, I would have looked at them and laughed.

No, really.

I loved my home. Everything about it. Including the train that passed through my backyard — and even my upstairs, which always seemed too hot in the summer and too cold in the winter. Obviously my tinkering never included insulation projects.

But then in July something happened. Sitting on my deck (to which I added a pergola too), I had an inspiration that came out of nowhere.

“It’s time to sell your house.”

“Yeah, whatever. I’ll get right on that,” I thought.

I ignored it for a day or so, but the feeling came right back to me. And after ignoring this feeling, sign, communication…whatever I wanted to term it…I decided to start listening, and stop ignoring.

God.

I started to clearly recognize that even the simple fact that I was considering selling my home had to have a deeper meaning. From a place within, that wasn’t built out of fickleness or trends, I started to realize that God was calling me to make this change.

To sell my house.

And perhaps the biggest reason of all — detachment — to let go of something I never thought I could let go of – which was also validated by the responses of my friends and family.

When I informed them that I had decided to sell my home, most of them just looked puzzled. As if I had gone bonkers. Typical responses were, “why would you sell your home after putting so much into it?” Or, “your home looks amazing, are you crazy?”

But I was in 100%.  And that’s where everything started.

The next couple of months proved challenging.

Both friends and family (and even my realtor) weren’t so sure my home would sell. Again, train…backyard.

And speaking of trains, my goal of being a minimalist was a “train” I had clearly fallen off of. My home had become a bit cluttered again with stuff. OK, it was full of stuff.

I had to spend some time getting things out of my home into a storage facility, which while also trying to work and earn an income, wasn’t exactly easy. I spent early mornings and evenings stuffing my car with things, taking it over to a storage facility.

I found myself constantly worrying about things. Like if the house would be ready to sell on time. Would anyone even come to look at it? Would I have to lower the price to sell it?

I was in constant anxiety.

I decided to say a novena to Saint Joseph that the house would sell quickly, with the hopes of being in a new home by Christmas.

Then finally on October 21, I listed it for sale. One person came and looked at it that evening. Not interested. Train.

Then at noon on October 22, two different people scheduled to look at it at the same time.

First person — not interested. Train.

Second person — loved the house and put a contract on it that day. Wow.

Our Lord and Saint Joseph had come through. One Day. God is so good…

Oh, but my anxieties didn’t stop there.

These included:

  • Would my home inspection go well?
  • Would I be able to find a home I liked as much (or more) than my old home?
  • What would be the costs to sell my home?
  • Would I be able to properly do all of this buying and selling while trying to run a business?

Sadly the list continues.

During all of this I found a new home that I really liked. A lot.

The weird thing though was that no one else did. My friends and family supported me, but whenever I showed them pictures of the house, they usually said things like “that’s nice”, or “ok”.

But for some reason I really loved the house. That is until the day of the home inspection. I had been to the house twice, and each time I really liked it and was excited about it. But on that day it seemed completely different. What was appealing was now unappealing. What seemed to me as character, now seemed, well, kind of ugly.

I started to feel sick that day of the inspection. I thought, unless they find something really wrong with this house, I’m stuck buying it.

Well, it turns out that wasn’t an issue. The home inspector found a ton of things wrong with it. Major things.

And suddenly I was free from it. And unlike Lot’s wife, I didn’t look back. I couldn’t drive away from that house fast enough.

But then after arriving back at my home my anxieties came back threefold.

I had no home at that point I was interested in buying. And the home I was selling was set to close in just three more weeks!

My excellent realtor quickly sent me a few homes to consider. I didn’t really like any of them, but I agreed to look at one of them.

And after half-heartedly driving up to see it the next day, when I saw it … I was sold.

Wow, God is so good…

But my anxieties didn’t end there.

No, really.

All sorts of issues started to pop up. Things having to do with financing, timing and issues found during the home inspection of the new home and other small things that seemed big at the time.

I started to second-guess myself, thinking that I had made a major mistake. That I never should have listened to that voice and just stayed at my old home.

I was happy there. Could that really have been God’s voice?

Even my realtor tried to calm my nerves, encouraging me to read the pages from my own book…especially my chapter, “Worry Changes Nothing. Prayer Changes Everything”.

But then I started to notice that with every hurdle, came a solution from God. Sadly it was a reality I was a bit late to the game to notice.  But once I did, my fears mostly melted away. I was beginning to understand a little more of God’s love for me.  He was taking care of me.

Even when my home closing seemed at risk of not closing…I thought ok, it will close, maybe just not today.

Even when the movers were scheduled to move my entire house the next morning…I thought, ok, it will work out.

And then a huge realization hit me. Throughout this entire thing, God not only inspired me to sell my house, but He made it all work out according to His plan – not mine.

Every single time I worried about something, He resolved the issue in a way that I could not have – it was always Him.

And the biggest realization of all? I had become the author of my own anxiety. Not the author of my next book, but the author of my fears, worries and concerns. Mostly made up in my head, in the form of worst-case scenarios that never panned out.

In our daily trials and tribulations, God comes to us and asks us to believe in Him. To put our confidence in Him, and to prove that we mean it, by refusing to worry and just trusting Him.

And we fail all the time. I certainly learned this these past few months.

But also something very important to learn is that if our trials were not good for us, God would remove them at once.

In life, let’s try our best not to be frightened. Simply take care of today’s problems to the best of our ability and put tomorrow in God’s Hands. Many (most?) of tomorrow’s troubles are only in our imaginations.

Learn to listen to God, just as I did when it came to time to sell my home, against my own thoughts and desires. But go a step further.

Remember that nothing can happen without God’s consent. Learn to safely and securely place yourself in His care and fear nothing.

Let’s refuse to be the author of our own anxieties.

Learn to live a daily life in as much peace as possible. Keep trying to give God the confidence in Him that He asks, and expects of us. It’s a process, but starting gets us one step closer.

For me the result was a new home. Or was it really?

No, the real result was much deeper.

Trust. Confidence. Faith. Closeness to God — seeing His love for me.

Give your anxieties over to God to take care of you. You might just be pleasantly surprised in the result.

Alan Scott

By

Alan Scott is a writer and graphic designer residing in Virginia. A former Agnostic, he converted to the Catholic faith in 2004. In 2014 he started his blog GrowInVirtue.com, and is the author of The Quest for Virtue, both which focus on growing in holiness, by attempting to live a life more simple and virtuous, a life that is lived for God. When he’s not writing or designing, you’ll find him, hands dirty, in his garden. You can find him on Facebook, too.

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