A Less Anxious Presence


sun soakingI recently heard someone say their goal for the year was to have a “less anxious presence”. I immediately loved that phrase and found it came from a book called The Leader’s Journey by Herrington, Creech, and Taylor.  I didn’t recall having heard of the book but jotted down the name, intending to check it out later. However I quickly forgot all about the book.

A few days ago I finally got around to unpacking some books from a week away last October. One of the books was The Leader’s Journey. I had bought the book but not gotten around to reading. it Not yet making the connection, I began reading the book and this morning I saw it. That phrase, “a less anxious presence”.  An aha moment! Once again, my soul and spirit inside me felt the yearning to connect to all that phrase represented.

Now sometimes I miss God speaking to me, but today I was pretty sure He had orchestrated this little series of events and was highlighting a focus for me.  As we say here in the South, “I’m not the dullest knife in the drawer.”

As the authors In The Leader’s Journey listed characteristics of an individual who is emotionally and spiritually mature, there was the phrase. The ability to be a less-anxious presence in the midst of other’s anxieties.

Wow. That’s a mouthful.

Do you ever find yourself becoming anxious because of what someone else is saying or doing? Emotional and spiritual maturity causes us to be able to resist getting caught up in someone else’s swirl.

I use that word picture quite often in my counseling work. I help individuals see that sometimes another person has a tornado of emotions swirling around them. To get caught up in that tornado will effectively insure that we get slung onto the ground somewhere in the journey, broken and addled, off-balance and confused.

To be able to identify the swirl around someone’s life or in a particular situation or conversation and step back from that swirl, putting a healthy boundary around one’s own emotions, is a process that  is healthy and brings emotional and spiritual maturity.

Don’t ask me how I know about this topic, lol. No, seriously, I’ve been caught in these swirls so many times, taking on other people’s emotions, stresses, anxieties. Now more often than not, I don’t step into the swirl.

I’ve learned that my need to take on these swirling emotions is usually very unhealthy, co-dependent behavior, and zaps my energy. That’s because we were never intended to carry another person’s emotional life with the intention of fixing it or buffering them from having to face the results of their own swirl.

As I read those words this morning, I realized that I can even have an anxious presence when no one else is around. Sometimes just beginning to enter into the Lord’s presence brings up all sorts of anxieties. There’s so much to do. So much that needs to be finished. Calls to make. All sorts of things pop into my mind. I jokingly say that I’ve discovered that the best way to make a good to-do list is to try to sit down and spend time with God. Everything that I might even possibly need to do will crop up in my mind. I’ve learned to keep a notepad during these times. I write these thoughts down so I don’t have to use any energy trying to remember them and give myself permission to let the thoughts go on their way for the time.

It’s amazing how drawn I can feel to clean my house during my devotional times. I can look around the room and see at least 10 things that need to be done RIGHT THEN. Have you seen how dusty my baseboards are?

A less anxious presence also means I don’t step into the swirl of the undone. The swirl of distractions.

There are many things that stir anxiety in our souls. Entering into the depths of God’s heart settles our anxieties.

So many times, God woos us to come up higher, come away, cast out into deeper waters. He knows we must find the place of a less anxious presence so we can live well, not tossed around by everything and everybody who calls to us.

What about you? Do you need to develop a less anxious presence? What brings anxiety into your soul?

Can you identify when you are being drawn into another’s anxieties?

Can you push past your own anxieties?

A less anxious presence.  I know I want that.

What about you?


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  1. Susi says:

    Powerful post, Mikki! Just thinking about being a less anxious presence stops me and forces me to assess my own emotional situation. What baggage am I needlessly carrying? Who am I offering rent-free space in my head? Which way am I being pulled by another? I don’t want to be in the swirl, I want to be with God in the vortex. What do I have to shed to get there? Thought provoking.

    I never notice my baseboards until my quiet time, either! Love you.

  2. Noemi says:

    Another timely post, Mikki. I’ve recently started seeking help because of anxiety issues, and yes, I DO want a less anxious presence.

  3. Song says:

    This is a great post. I feel like I wear people out with my presence, but I’m trying to learn to be more positive. I lost a friend recently. I honestly believe part of that loss was because of my anxious presence. I think she just had enough and had to walk away. I now want to leave a place in better shape than I found it. I don’t know how to do that, but I’m on a search to learn.

    You have made my life better than it was when you arrived. Thank you! You’re a true blessing!

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