I remember when I was in rehab at 19 years old I was filled with tremendous anxiety about the future. I would have trouble falling asleep because I could not turn my brain off as it was continuously filled with negative thoughts about my life. I thought that I would never amount to anything, that I wasted my life, and that I would end up very unhappy.
It was a dark time for me. Looking back I see how I could have avoided all that pain. I also understand what caused it. Let’s look first at what caused my anxiety for the future and then we can move on to how we should look toward the future to avoid the dark thinking that I suffered.
So here is a list of what I did wrong to end up with anxiety for the future.
I incorrectly measured success and happiness.
I had a lot of misunderstandings about reality at 19, but this one caused a lot of trouble for me regarding my self worth. My anxiety for the future stemmed from the fact that I thought at the time that worldly success translated to happiness and was the standard to measure whether or not I was doing well. I looked at this measurement, looked at where I was in rehab and drug addiction and mistakenly assumed that I would never reach the measurement required to have a good and happy life.
I attributed too much power to myself concerning my future (pride).
Pride is trusting too much in your own resources and not enough in God’s. I thought everything depended upon me and with the way things were going it seemed like I wasn’t going to make it. While I have since heard many stories of men and women rising out of addiction to do great things, I didn’t think I had it in me. I also didn’t understand that God has done better with worse and humans have done worse with better.
I needed to first meet God, grow in my faith in Him, and then I would discover that there is nothing that our God can’t do. I did not see at 19 what I now know. If I had known my future, what I have lived over the past 16 years, I would not have been anxious. I would have been excited!
I willingly overlooked the truth that “Nothing is Impossible for God”.
I refused to believe that God could move the mountains that were my problems with addiction, sadness, and the negative consequences of my bad decisions. I was just like the Israelites who were at the Red Sea after leaving Egypt and, perceiving the waters as a boundary trapping them and keeping them from progressing toward the dream, doubted that the Lord could lead me to mine.
I thought I was a lost cause for whom the only possible future was a bleak existence of suffering and failure. I had vaguely heard of the Bible passage that God could do the impossible, but I chose not to believe it. I chose to believe in my fears and doubts instead, which only brought me fear and anxiety.
So that is where I went wrong. I simply had incorrect perceptions of reality that left me broken and miserable. Humanity is at a place now where for many are applying the same perceptions to their future causing them to arrive at the same conclusions and mental state.
To find peace from our anxiety, must look at our future correctly. We must do the opposite of what I did at 19. Allow me to reword my mistakes to better guide us all to how we must look to our future with peace.
We must measure success and happiness correctly.
Now to do this we must pretty much ignore everything we have heard from movies, music, tv shows, some books, and other aspects of pop culture. We need to replace the idea that money, power, pleasure, and fame are the only avenues that will bring us fulfillment. While these things can be fun I am sure, we need to realize that true success and true happiness come from another source.
To give a quick answer to what we should measure our life by, what will bring true happiness, we can look to love. Not shallow attraction or having various needs met by someone who helps you, but true, sacrificial, unconditional love. Basically if we can learn to love without worrying about ourselves and what we get in return, we don’t need to worry about our future.
We need to realize that everything does not depend upon us.
We have a great helper with the Lord. He is good, caring, and knows what is best for us. All that He asks for us is for us to trust Him. It can be hard, but when we succeed at this the outcomes are astronomical.
Everything does not depend upon us. Really only the only things that we can control are our actions, how we respond to people and situations, and what we think about. Yes, we can change the world with these things, but we must remember that God is working for us to help lead us to do these things well.
We must believe that nothing is impossible for God.
It is not that a belief that anything we want will happen, but a belief that anything CAN happen. It is within God’s power. We need not fear because God can handle anything that comes our way. Furthermore, if we believe in Romans 8:28 where it says “God brings good out of all things for those who love God”, then we can draw the natural conclusion that He only allows what is best for us. Therefore we are allows safe in His hands.
Think about it. If nothing is impossible for God, then He can do anything. If He brings good out of everything for His followers then He has the power and the loving-kindness to stop all things that will ruin us. Your future is in His hands and will never overwhelm or crush you. Not to say that it might not feel like it will, but it never actually will.
Finally, we must be open.
In life, if we are constantly closed-minded and expect that what will take place will only be what we want to have happen, then we will be disappointed a lot. We must be open to what God wants. Pairing this with the previous point means that we might not also have our specific desires met, but the greater desires that these things symbolize will always be.
For instance, God might not bring you the $1 Million that you have been asking for. However, if you put Him and His plan first, even if that what’s you think you need to be happy, even if He doesn’t give you that money, He will give you the security, excitement, and happiness that you are actually seeking by means of the $1 Million. He just might give you these things by an unexpected, but you will discover that it is better, means.
Yes, our futures are unknown, and that can be scary. But using these points in our view of God and reality will strengthen us and remind us that there is a lot more going on than what we may first perceive. Our lives are not random events of chance, they are intended, they are wanted, and they have purpose. We discover this purpose not by imposing our will on the world, but by listening to God to discern His will and choose with our free will to follow it.
Looking toward to future with these things in mind will allow for us to have the peace we are meant to have both now and in the future. We need not be afraid of the unknown that is to come because we are reminding ourselves of God’s presence, power, and control over our lives. This is relieving as it continuously reminds us that we are in good hands, our lives are in good hands, and we need not be afraid.