by Dave Miller
Anxiety. Fear. Dread. Frustration. Anger. Rage. Welcome to change.
We are not in control. Times of change remind us of that fact. I, of course, am not referring to the choice to change. We perceive control in those moments and therefore embrace them with expectation and joy. Instead, I am referring to unwanted or unexpected change.
You tend to swing to one side of the pendulum or the other, passive or aggressive. Passive tends towards anxiety that builds into fear and can, without intentional interruption, create dread. Aggressive tends towards frustration or annoyance that builds into anger, and can, without intentional interruption, explode into rage.
The question in the middle of unwanted or unexpected change is not how to stop fear or anger, but instead choosing who you worship. Let me explain.
We all put our trust in something(s) or someone(s). That trust suits us well and provides stability until the something(s) or someone(s) prove themselves to be unstable or even untrustworthy. At that point, our foundations are rattled and change is thrust upon us. The required amount of change will depend on our perceived necessity of the something(s) or someone(s) in our life.
For instance, I can have a coworker I only casually know on my team get fired from work. That moment may require me to evaluate my performance, adjust my workload, or consider the importance of my job, but quickly most people move on with life. On the other hand, if my boss, whom I work with closely and have partnered with through promotions for 10 years gets removed because of a redirection in the company, the unexpected change can create lots of life disruption. Now let’s take the idea a step further, a close family member dies. See the progression. Disruption causes change. The change itself is not what causes our thinking and emotions to react, it is the coming unknowns as a result that creates the anxiety, fear, frustration, and anger.
The response of our emotions and thinking in the midst of transition can be a pretty accurate barometer of the object(s) of our trust. The greater the response, the greater the level of trust. When these responses come, we can take inventory of what we really want, and who or what we think will give it to us.
Our responses can also show us what we fear, in the sense that, we don’t trust we simply appease. A person who feels unable to control a situation, but still needs the current environment for personal security, will often do whatever it takes to keep the status quo. Appeasing whatever or whoever they perceive as ruling authority.
So whether the response is trust or appeasement, the reality is still the same. Will the something(s) or someone(s) be able to measure up to the expectation that is placed upon them. Simply, the answer is no. Eventually all something(s) or someone(s) will fail.
So let’s reset. The question in the middle of unwanted or unexpected change is not how to stop fear or anger, but instead recognizing what you worship. A mentor of mine says, “What we fear, love, and value is what we worship. What we worship is what we become.” Fear and anger are responses, they are not causes. If you want to deal with anxiety and frustration you must deal with the cause not the symptom. The cause is what you worship. What you worship is what you fear, love, and value. What you fear, love, and value, determines who you will become.
We are in a cultural moment of significant change and transition. It is not the first time for America nor will it be the last. In is not exclusive to America, nor will it ever be. This is a people problem. The systems of men, wherever we find them and live in them, will always have faults, because there are people in them. If a system could solve the problem, then the Hebrew law, encapsulated in the 10 Commandments and unpacked through the prophet Moses directly from God, would have solved the problem. Because, unlike any man made system, the Old Testament law was perfect. Yet, the law of the Old Testament scriptures failed. Does that mean the law was bad? Absolutely not! It means that the system was being followed by sinners who were incapable of obeying. Yet, the Hebrews would not have understood the depth of their sin and incapability of obedience, if the law had not shown them the right way. They see the right way and don’t take it. We shouldn’t blame the law, the people are responsible. Even in this perfect system the people fail. How much more will we fail in the imperfect systems of man.
So before this post turns your thinking towards a politicized system, sparking ideas of policy, philosophy, cultural icons, or cancellations, instead think of what those systems have created when they hold the place of what we fear, love, and value. Rage and Dread. The systems or the people in them are what we, as a culture, worship. And, like any man or man made thing, they ultimately cannot bear the weight of responsibility that has been put upon them, precisely because people, sinful, weak, and fickle people like us, are involved.
Yet there was One, Jesus. God took on Jewish flesh and inserted himself into the middle of a politically tumultuous time, as a political minority in the Roman world, and rather annoying one to the Roman elite. He was born in a nothing town, to a nothing mother, in a mandated migration motivated by Ceasar Agustus’ love of money. He grew up with wisdom and stature among his people, doing works that no one else could do, only to be hated by the Jewish religious and political leadership for interfering in their love of notoriety, money, and power. Ultimately, Jesus was crucified without uttering one defense of himself. Now, Jesus is pronounced King of kings by the Creator of the universe. Why would such a one receive such a position? Because of trust. Not THAT he trusted, but WHO he trusted. The Father.
He trusted the Father’s will, The Father’s way, the Father’s word, the Father’s timing, the Father’s gifts, the Father’s care, the Father’s presence, the Father’s commands, The Father’s motivations, the Father’s love, the Father’s intentions, He trusted God the Father. He trusted Him all the way to death. Not just any death, death on a cross. Seems like a waste. What could possibly have made Jesus trust the Father like that?
The hope of resurrection.
In the end, Jesus fully trusted that the Father could even raise him from the dead. And the Father did, never to die again! Jesus walked out of the grave with the name that is above every name. So that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus the Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father!
Both the Son and the Father have proven time and again, He is worthy. Our God can stand under the pressure. The weight of the world is on His shoulders, and always has been, always will be. He is worthy and capable of the calling. No other one or thing is.
Even in a world system in chaos, Jesus walked worthy, without fault, without sin, living breathing righteousness. Jesus is the one who never fails, no matter what system is in temporary control. He cannot fail. He will not fail.
What you fear, love, and value is what you worship. What you worship is what you become. Can the something(s) or someone(s) you fear, love, and value stand up under the pressure of worship or will they fail?
Do you want to rid yourself of the never ending cycle of anxiety and fear, of frustration and anger? Do you want to be change in our world that doesn’t result in more dread and rage? Then make sure the one you worship is worthy of the calling. There is no other name by which we may be saved than the name of the worthy one, Jesus of Nazareth who is called the Christ.
Until there's #NoPlaceLeft...