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Anxiety Lessons from a Dog and His Boy

“No, no, no!” I heard myself half-yell, anxiety rising in my chest. Trying to listen to my favorite podcast, desperate for encouragement, I hit rewind 5 times in the first few minutes of my commute to work. I couldn’t do it anymore—listen, pay attention, focus. Suddenly, as if out loud, I heard His voice, “Talk to me instead.” 

In my heart, Jesus continued, “You’ve heard enough from my wise counselors; it’s time to talk to Me, and listen to my heart.” I turned the podcast off and began pouring out my heart. As I spilled my guts all over His Throne room floor, I knew He welcomed every anxious thought.

  • I can’t sleep. 
  • My thoughts are chaotic and unholy.
  • I’m so distracted, I can’t focus for 10 minutes.

Anxiety breeds distractibility.*

Peace, joy, perseverance, and even our emotions are in jeopardy when anxiety shows up. To quote a great movie, ”Something’s gotta give.”

Certain I was compromised in all the above, I stayed a few more minutes in my parked car. By the time I headed into the clinic, though I had no immediate answers, I felt different. 

Being in Jesus’ presence brought a peaceful calm I knew, but had forgotten to seek.

Have you experienced anything like this lately, or is it just me?

These past 2 years—we all know the dreaded words—we’ve lived through “unprecedented times.” While we’re ready to put 2020-21 far behind us, if we allow the ferocity of the year to settle with the dust of our disheveled minds, we will forget:

Anxiety

Why remember? Because no one got through 2020 untouched. 

  • Our homes are now school rooms, offices, churches, chaotic and even hostile at times, or lonelier—with one less loved one.
  • Our hearts ache.
  • Our minds race, overthink or shut down—longing for even a temporary departure from reality.
  • Our children are affected by social distancing, racial tension, an aberrant election, and at-home learning.

We remember, so we more readily extend grace to those around us, and maybe even more, to ourselves. 

I see eyebrows raising. Ourselves? What does Jesus have to say about this? “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Matthew 22:39

I first heard this concept in 2020. Talking to Jesus about it, I sensed the same answer. ”As yourself, dear child.” 

In order to love others as He commands, we must love ourselves. Why?

Simply, because Jesus does. 

The following week, God displayed His love in the most surprisingly tender way while skiing—through my husband and a dog. 

Delightfully, we learned Beaver Creek has a mountain mascot—Willy. 

(Picture courtesy of Beaver Creek’s mountain dog)

We met him at the midway lift, and being dog lovers, we ogled over him. He patiently allowed our ogling, though his eyes never left his human.

Later, we watched in awe as Willy’s human skied down, harness in hand, while Willy ran in between his skis, face alight with joy. They stopped; Willy sat immediately when asked, and his boy threw him in the air as if he weighed almost nothing. Landing squarely on his broad shoulders, they headed downhill together, Willy clearly enjoying the ride from his secure position.

As my brother and I marveled, my husband reminisced, “It’s just like my devotion this morning. Jesus is our Shepherd, carrying lost sheep on His shoulders back to the safety of His flock.”

Tears sprang into my eyes unannounced, my heart warmed by the visual of our Shepherd who tends and deeply cares for us.

The moment safely tucked in my memory; I returned home to the continued chaos of 2021:

In a year of— 

loneliness

anxiety 

hostility

confusion—

Jesus is waiting.

Waiting for us to sit still long enough to hoist us upon His capable shoulders when the slope is too steep, our energy is depleted, or we don’t know the way. If you can’t feel Him, look for Him. Ask of Him. Listen for His gentle voice. 

He’s the Shepherd who hears, sees and knows us. (1 John 3:19-24) As He tenderly loves us, we can trust His guidance and be as gentle with ourselves as He is with us.

*Click on the above link, take the short quiz, and join me next week for practical tips on dealing with anxiety.

This Post Has 77 Comments

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    What a great visual about the dog!!! I love the picture of the Lord carrying us on His strong shoulders, leaving us free to enjoy the ride. Thank you so very much for sharing!

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