In the book, Anxiety – Anatomy and Cure, the author Robert Kellemen makes the observation: “…every dysfunctional, fallen emotion is a distortion of God’s original, pre-fall design. God intended for us to experience a mood that is the flip side of anxiety.”
And what is this flip sided, positive, pre-fall emotion? Ta da, it’s vigilance!
Kellemen says that vigilance is the command God gave to Adam and Eve to “tend and befriend” the garden. Vigilance is what we do when we tend and befriend the world and those we love. Vigilance is powerful, loving, engaging.
But anxiety is vigilance gone wrong. It is fear based, always scanning for problems, blindly fighting or running and hiding. It doesn’t believe that God will give you what you need when you need it. In Kellemen’s words, “Anxiety is vigilance minus faith in God.”
That explanation helps me tremendously. When I start to feel anxious about something, I can ask God how I should tend and befriend the situation, and do it! Do I need to have a hard conversation with someone? Do I need to mind my own business? Do I need to sit still? What is the most loving response? That is tending and befriending.
This in itself made Kellemen’s book worth buying and reading for me. And there is much more in his book than this little intro. I highly recommend it.
But back to me. (wink)
A funny thing happened when I started employing the tend and befriend technique. I experienced moments of peace. And do you know what my first response to that was? “Yikes! I must be neglecting something!” Yep, peace frightened me. I was so accustomed to “toxic scanning,” that I felt I was letting the city go unguarded, so to speak.
Do you know what I do now when I feel peace? Well, I don’t try to dissect it, after all, isn’t there peace that passes understanding? Instead I tell God thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you. And in doing so I tend and befriend my own little heart. I recommend that as well.