|Subject: Article on Anxiety|
|ANXIETY ARTICLE |
Over the many years of running my a ceramic painting franchise business in California, I have only too often been tempted to give in to a mental atmosphere of impending doom and discord. Meeting payroll in the nick of time, or losing sales that seemed assured—only to lose them at the last moment—have created a pattern of fear and worry. As parents and now grandparents, my wife and I have experienced what are often considered normal concerns and anxious moments about our children’s safety and success. At times, such various fears appear to advance freely and without any ability on my part to control them.
I suspect we’ve all been assailed at one time or another by a sense of helplessness caused by reports of crime, natural disasters, or terrorist activities. Maybe business trends or recessionary pressures threaten credit or cash needs. Certain physical symptoms produce similar fears and anxious moments. When entering a meeting with those we disagree with—politically, financially, or even within the family—we tend to ruminate and rehearse the upcoming confrontation, justifying our position with what appears humanly to be the perfect defense.
In Science and Health, Mary Baker Eddy spoke of such self-imposed buildups of anxiety when she described a kitten looking in the mirror at itself, thinking it sees another kitten (see p. 220). She explained that this is mortal thought producing its own phenomena and then charging them to something else. We could take that situation further. Imagine that kitten looking into the mirror and seeing a ferocious cat with pointed teeth, tail sticking up in the air, crouched and ready to pounce. The kitten runs away, but to no avail. The adversary in the mirror instantly follows the kitten no matter where it runs.
This simple and witty analogy is profound in its application to the way our own anxious moments produce the very effects we dread in advance of a situation. The anxiety that results is, in fact, self-induced fear. This fear is little more than being ungrateful in advance for the oncoming discord we think cannot be fixed without mounting a strong counterattack. And I’ve learned that the opposite of such fear is gratitude in advance for the ever-present goodness of God, who governs every aspect of our daily lives.
This is illustrated by an experience I had about a year ago. I was informed by my bank that my credit lines for my ceramics business were being reviewed. This was right at the time that news reports were circulating about banks calling loans and retracting prior credit commitments. It was also a time when buyers of our franchises were pulling back on their prior interest because of concerns over the economy. Some of our existing franchises were in arrears on their payments to us. We’d face certain business failure should the worst happen, and it appeared that that was the way things were going. I had no control over the banks, and no ability to mitigate buyers’ concerns. I was feeling the effects of conditions outside my control, and despaired of any ways to reverse the negative trend.
I immediately called a Christian Science practitioner for prayerful support, and she assured me that God would have the sun rise tomorrow without my help! My sole responsibility was to glorify Him in my life, and stay on task in my Father’s business. She emphasized that God knew nothing of a recession, credit lines, or customer fears. He would supply all good.
By happy coincidence, that week’s Christian Science Bible Lesson, which I’d been studying daily, included the story of the widow woman and the pot of oil. In the account in I Kings, chapter 17, Elijah had the woman borrow pots and vessels to hold the seemingly endless supply of oil—limited only by the number of pots she borrowed.
The practitioner asked me if I was really being grateful for what I already had. I stopped to ask myself where my “oil” was, and which vessels I could use to hold all of it. It occurred to me that instead of predicting the worst, I could start expecting fresh new lines of supply and prepare my company to receive them. So, what did I have in the way of oil? I started seeing my receivables [business term may need tiny explanatory phrase] as assets to be grateful for, and interested buyers as proof of the attraction of the [goodwill and honesty] [??] my company represented. I even saw my employees and vendors as valued assets.
I decided to internally finance—interest free—the upfront fees required by my customers. I then extended interest-free loans with lower payments to those existing customers who were behind in their payments. With expectation, I gave raises to our employees, and called vendors individually to thank them for their partnership and assure them that we would be satisfying our obligations to them.
The payments produced from the new, affordable, loan payments became the oil that changed the cash-flow picture. New customers and the expansion of new outlets with existing customers followed as a result of the internal financing. My “line of credit” had been replaced with a new “line of thinking.”
A few weeks later, I scheduled a meeting at our headquarters with the bank to show the progress being made at the retail level in our business and in our new cash-flow picture. At that meeting, I laid out our plans for future expansion right when most companies were pulling back. The following day the bank called and, despite our not meeting the new requirement for what was a million-dollar line of credit, they said they were extending our line and were pleased to see that we were “bucking the trend.”
As I thought gratefully about this uncharacteristic response from the bank, I realized there was no financially based explanation for the their decision other than the atmosphere they had felt when they came out to visit our company. The energy in our office, free of timidity [meaning the energy?], and their identification of the ethical standards [???] resident in our business, replaced the wringing of hands and desperate pleas for financial help.
This turnaround proved that right where there seemed to be lack, an unrealized reservoir existed. It needed only gratitude and expectancy [of good??] to see it realized. What principle was illustrated?Science and Health makes it clear: “In the scientific relation of God to man, we find that whatever blesses one blesses all, as Jesus showed with the loaves and the fishes,—Spirit, not matter, being the source of supply” (p. 206).
I have overcome anxiety in several others situations in my life, including finding and purchasing homes over the years, significant physical healings, and the three-month premature birth of a grandchild who, after much prayerful support, is now a perfectly healthy three-year-old.
What I have learned is that when we recognize God’s presence, there is no threat to be feared, no battle to be fought, and no contrary power to consider. If God is everywhere, then we cannot enter a situation where the divine influence is not at work. As we read in Isaiah, “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness” (Isa. 41:10).
Mike Mooslin and his wife, Nancy, a professional artist, live in Los Angeles, California.