On a recent trip to NYC, I had the privilege of meeting with a Broadway star with the group of students I was chaperoning. The actress had played the lead female role in plays such as Phantom of the Opera, Les Miserables, The Little Mermaid, and other amazing shows and she chose to share with the teens how she dealt with anxiety. She made an interesting statement by stating to the students, “ I figure the anxiety I feel when I go out on the stage is the very sign I need to acknowledge. My feelings of anxiety is not really anxiety, but the thing I was born to do and then I take that anxiety and turn it into excitement.” I am pretty sure most of the teens I was with had no idea what she was actually stating to them, but as I sat there with my typical therapist analysis running through my thoughts, I pondered to myself, “Yes, that is very true. The very area in which there is tension is the very area we need to move toward, because the area that holds tension and resistance is generally where we need to go.”
Now gentle reader, do not jump ahead of me in your anxious thoughts. I am not speaking of becoming a snake handler when we fear snakes; however, I am speaking of the areas we fear confronting inside of ourselves and others. Resistance and anxiety, and how we avoid them, are fears wrapped up with a bow preventing us from acknowledging what could happen if we successfully dealt with our fears. In our story today, the woman who faced her fears became a Broadway star. What will happen to you when you face your fears? What will happen when we come to see that the anxiety that is stirred to the surface regarding a person, place or thing is really a shadow of what light can come? Every shadow we feel or see comes as a result of light. Every feeling of resistance within us is the shadow of the freedom and light that could come. Spiritually, God says that when we are weak, He is stronger inside of us because His light and His power can be shown to us and to others when we still move toward that thing we fear.
The Apostle Paul explains it this way in 2 Corinthians 12: 7 -10 The Message (MSG):
7-10 Because of the extravagance of those revelations, and so I wouldn’t get a big head, I was given the gift of a handicap to keep me in constant touch with my limitations. Satan’s angel did his best to get me down; what he in fact did was push me to my knees. No danger then of walking around high and mighty! At first I didn’t think of it as a gift, and begged God to remove it. Three times I did that, and then he told me,
My grace is enough; it’s all you need.
My strength comes into its own in your weakness.
Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. It was a case of Christ’s strength moving in on my weakness. Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer, these limitations that cut me down to size—abuse, accidents, opposition, bad breaks. I just let Christ take over! And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become.
Turn your anxiety into excitement. You are moving toward the light. You are moving toward freedom. You are moving toward who you were created to be.