Combating the fear monster
Last updated 5/9/2008 at Noon
Last Saturday after my Contemplative Prayer meeting, I spent time with a friend discussing her fears. She battles anxious thoughts that intensify as she goes to sleep and mock her with the rising sun. Her mind is continually troubled with dark ruminations that nearly swallow her up, destroying her peace and ruining most of her day. Her fear monster has ruled the roost way too long.
Fear is good if it protects us from something harmful, but if it keeps us from living a full life, we have to dig our heels in and proclaim our rights as children of God for the peace he promises. Being a basic scaredy-cat myself, through the grace of God I have found some wonderful venues that can be of benefit to fellow anxiety-ridden souls.
Through a simple little supplication called the “Welcome Prayer” we can plead to the Lord to tame our negative thoughts the same way he calmed the stormy Sea of Galilee. The welcome prayer is an expedient way to solicit Jesus’ help against those nagging thoughts by simply repeating the word, “Welcome.” We have about fifteen seconds to derail those pesky monsters or they get caught in our subconscious and rule our mental faculties making us feel totally nuts, overwhelmed and afraid.
Another way to calm our jumbled mind is by repeating a mantra such as the sinner’s prayer: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, have mercy on me a sinner,” or “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.” Once the negative thoughts are replaced with positive affirmations to God you will instantly feel peace. But, remember, time is of the essence! As soon as those troubling thoughts creep up on you, delve into the safety of your mantra before they capsize you into a sea of negative emotion.
According to Fr. Richard Rohr, we have what are called neural grooves in our brain. These grooves act like a broken record spewing negative self-talk and anxiety-ridden dialogue into our consciousness as if a little demon were sitting on our shoulder, whispering in our ear. The longer we let these nasty illusions linger, the deeper the groove, and the more likely we repeat them over and over again in our mind. But if we immediately recognize and control these intruders by throwing up a barricade to protect our sanity through welcoming the Lord, repeating scripture or mantras, the destructive thoughts perish right before our troubled minds. You will find that the nasty thought demons flee for their obscure little lives, overpowered by Jesus who said: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” John 14:26-27.
We are to address our problems, no doubt; but to be paralyzed by them is not the work of our loving God. We are to “take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2Cor 10:5). Now, just claim that scripture for yourself and let the peace of God that surpasses all understanding rule our hearts and minds! Yet another reason why faith matters!