Anxiety Related to Expectations

October 7th, 2011

I’ve noticed the less I try to accomplish, the lower my anxiety becomes.

However, it’s usually not enough for me to have just one goal.  I often have about ten.  Maybe you can’t relate to this, but I don’t usually feel good about myself unless I’m accomplishing things.

This trip has been a good example.  My goals were many:

  1. to see as much as possible of cultures outside the US
  2. to pack as much as possible into six weeks
  3. to work on learning both Creole and Spanish during my time here
  4. to figure out the local infrastructures (for instance, I’ve acquired Haiti & Dominican SIM cards for my cell phone)
  5. try to encourage everyone I meet
  6. continue reading books
  7. interview every missionary I run into on their entire life story
  8. donate Bibles and other stuff
  9. visit as many different local churches as possible (so far I’ve visited four)
  10. figure out what I want to do when I grow up
  11. never miss a day of personal devotions
  12. test the various gear I brought along
  13. keep my clothes clean (even if this means doing laundry by hand at 10pm using water from a rain barrel)
  14. continue blogging (and journaling and e-mail correspondence)
  15. get at least eight hours of sleep every night

The list goes on and on. 

Anxiety begins cropping up when my goals interfere with each other.  Which happens continually.  (Even in real life back in the US)

I’ve noticed other people have a different approach. 

The friend I went to Haiti with seemed to have only one goal: to help improve the lives of the orphans we were visiting.

That goal streamlined all his actions and decisions.  I noticed he never seemed to get stressed out, and I think his trick was that he simply kept the main thing the main thing. 

Whenever opportunities arose to do something non-orphanage related or other responsibilities encroached on his time he quickly filtered them out as “non-essential” because they didn’t align with his primary goal of spending time with the kids and doing everything he could for them.

So today I’m trying to follow that philosophy.  My single purposed goal for today is to simply give my body a good rest and chance to heal from the infection I’ve had in my leg/foot. 

To that end I’ve stayed in bed all day.  Though I have written a few e-mails, got my auto insurance renewed, finished a book, put together this blog post…

Speaking of goals, I wonder what a good life goal would be?

For starters, I think it would be healthy to have a goal of always enjoying and appreciating the “here and now.”  To not always be looking for a more rosy tomorrow, but to savor life in the present.  I could use a lot of help on this one!

The Apostle Paul said he made it his goal to please Christ (2 Corinthians 5:9).  That seems like a good one.

Perhaps Jesus laid out the best goal when he said,

“So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’  For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Matt 6)

But I wonder… what does seeking first the kingdom and righteousness of Christ look like practically?

3 Responses to “Anxiety Related to Expectations”

  1. Danny Says:

    Hey Nick, cool to see that you can still reach the whole world from where you are! Too bad I wasn’t able to get a text through. Pat said you hurt your foot, how is that doing? Weather is real beautiful here now. Looking forward to when you get back to us in the ‘present’

  2. Amanda Says:

    Hey!! How is your leg; doing any better??
    So, how has God shown Himself faithful this week??

  3. nick Says:

    Hey, my foot and leg are finally healed, thank you for asking! I’m very thankful about that… had an infection which caused swelling to where I could hardly walk. Even spent a night in a local hospital where they gave me an IV with antibiotics.

    Now I’m good as new!

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