I was a little wild when I was 19. I spent that year out in New Mexico and had a job washing dishes at a cafe/video store hybrid owned by the lead singer of a one-hit-wonder punk band from the 80s called The Nails. It was a dream job for me because I could listen to cool music, watch hip-artsy movies, and drink coffee all day.
One day, the guy who ran the counter for the movie center invited my roommates and me to a rave in the hills of Taos. We went to what turned out to be a crazy party. Unfortunately, I was not on my best behavior.
After a few drinks, I decided it was wise to tell everyone I had been sold fake ecstasy because I was upset it had not kicked in right away. Well, it eventually did start working, and the next thing I remember was disrespectfully yelling at a cop who came to quiet down the party. Because I was in a large crowd, I was able to blend and escape without being arrested.
Needless to say, the guy who invited me told me he was very upset the next time I saw him at work. Being a kid and not thinking it was too big of a deal, I got frustrated with him right back. The café owner overheard our exchange, took me aside, and told me not to worry about my upset coworker because he is just not as “rock ‘n roll” as I am and doesn’t understand.
I have to admit, it was awesome that this punk rock lead singer, who hung out with The Ramones, The Clash, and other 80s punk bands, told me I was “rock ‘n roll.” What an affirmation for a 19-year-old kid who wanted nothing more in life at the time.
As I have mentioned many times since then, just one day of my life presently with God is better than the thousands of days of partying I spent without God. Now I look back at my behavior and thank the Lord that I got away from all that. I was hurting myself and a lot of other people with my decisions. While on the outside, it might have looked like I was having tons of fun and living it up, on the inside, I was barely surviving.
For one thing, I was riddled with anxiety. Even though I was just declared to be “rock ‘n roll” by a true rock star, I struggled tremendously. I was terribly worried about my future and my relationships with others.
The reason I was in New Mexico to begin with was because I agreed to enter a rehab facility for a year. Part of my program was what’s known as the third stage, where I would live in an apartment in Taos with other boys enrolled in the program and hold a job to pay rent and other needs.
There were times when I took my sobriety seriously and times, like this party, when I did not. I really did want to stop. I knew this behavior was bad for me and would continue to lead to bad things, but I was hooked on this frivolous lifestyle.
Furthermore, it only made my anxiety worse. I remember staying up all night thinking poorly about myself and stressing about everything in life with what felt like a weight on my chest that would crush me at any moment. It seemed like there was no hope. However, this was because I did not know who I really was and what I was made for. I had a case of mistaken identity. I believed many errors about who I was and what it meant to be human that truly led me down a dark road that filled my life with misery.
First, I saw myself as a product of random evolution instead of a child created by God. Additionally, I thought I was only as good as how well I performed, which made me unable to forgive myself for my mistakes. Finally, I thought my purpose was to feel as much pleasure as possible.
Thankfully, not one of these things is true. Now I can see who I am as a child of God who can mess up a thousand times and still have tremendous worth. I have the beautiful insight to know that living for fleeting pleasure will only lead to misery. All of these lies not only made my life harder, they led to terrible anxiety as well.
I had a wake-up call a few years after I left rehab and was able to understand five truths that not only helped me be happier with myself and my life, but helped me with my anxiety as well. Take a look below and see if they can help you or someone you love!
1. Your life is not random.
You are intended and wanted. Your existence was planned, and God has known you from the very beginning. Everything about you is good, except for any wrong choices you might make.
2. You have a loving Father who will support and guide you.
You are loved! God will never hate you or think poorly of you. He smiles upon you and seeks to help you by bringing good out of every situation. This means that you are exactly where you are meant to be, even if you are suffering or struggling.
God has allowed everything in your life to lead you to this moment. He will guide you in the future to discover peace and happiness if you let Him. There is no problem or difficulty that He will not help you through.
3. You are not a problem. You are a solution.
It may feel like you are a burden that others must deal with, but this is not true. You are not a problem that others must solve. You are not part of what is wrong with the world. You are God’s solution to what is wrong with the world!
God sent you to be who you are meant to be to fill the hole in existence that only you can serve. Your thoughts, voice, and heart are meant to be here to help bring about only what you can bring about. And by doing this, we can all chip away at the problem of evil one day at a time.
4. With Jesus, you always have a bright future ahead of you.
Jesus can lead you away from misery. He can help you see your life with hope and bring about what you hope for. When you get anxious about your life, find a quiet place, think about the Lord and let Him fill you. His presence will reassure you that nothing happens without Him.
5. You were not made for comfort; you were made for greatness.
I stole this from Benedict XVI, and it can be the topic of a whole book. The human person is meant for more than seeking comfort and pleasure. I have found that a good, fulfilling life requires that I do hard things at times. It might not always feel good, but with Jesus, it will always be good.