Saint Sophia Cathedral
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Topic of the Week – Anxiety Departs with Trust in God
“People create their problems by having the wrong attitude before God… As you know from the fathers of the Orthodox Church, evil is the absence of good. Evil cannot exist in and of itself. It is the same with darkness. Darkness is the absence of light. Wherever there is light, it would be impossible for us to say that we could gather darkness in order to darken the light. If there is light, darkness has no hold; it is non-existent because it only exists in the absence of good.
When God is present in the soul, when He lives inside the soul, there is no room for the devil; he has no place there. When the light of God is present in the soul, when God is present as light, there is no room for darkness. Even if we want to put darkness in the soul, it stands no change because spiritual darkness is the absence of the light of God.
The situation is the same with anxiety. Anxiety is non-existent. People create anxiety for themselves, as they do with so many things. We must be careful of this. People create their problems by having the wrong attitude before God. Generally speaking, a person could have a mistaken perspective of themselves, of others, of reality, and truth. But it is specifically when a person has the wrong attitude before God, that they create thousands of issues for themselves…
So all of the trials that we endure, all of those trials which tyrannize us so much, we create them ourselves. Please pay attention to this. Do not say, ‘What can we do since others create problems for us?’ I can positively assure you that even if others harm us, we cannot be affected if we do not give in to these things allowing ourselves to be harmed.
Everything serves man, everything works for our benefit, even the worst of things. It is because we, as human beings, do not approach and face things correctly that we allow these things to harm us, traumatize us, weigh us down, pressure us, and to create anxieties.
“I must also say that a person should not become overwhelmed by the struggle between good and evil, or the struggle between what should be and what should not. Even if all of the evils of the world were to befall a person who struggles to do what is right, they should by no means become sick over these things and experience nervousness or anxiety….
When is a person free of nervousness? When they really love that which is good, when they really desire it. As I said, as much as the evil that is inside you may rise up against you, even if all of the evil around you rises up against you, even as much as the devil himself arranged these things, it is not fitting for you to be nervous, to be anxious. This is especially so if you really love that which you are seeking, that which you are striving for. In other words, if you truly desire God….”
You turn the knife that wounded you
“Many times, the way in which you react when you worry, have some pain, or are wounded, looks like this: Someone stabs you and you take the knife and begin to twist it inside the wound. Fine, someone hurt you. Remove the knife and look at how you are going to heal your wound.
But no, you do not remove the knife. Instead, you hold it there and even if someone wants to remove it you do not let them. And as if that is not enough, you even twist it inside the wound.
This should not seem strange to you. What do you think? When someone, for example, says something hurtful that traumatizes and wounds you, you think of it constantly, have it constantly in your mind, and do not want to forget it, right?
And if that is not enough, you become angry with the person who said this, you do wrong and hate them, and you want to take revenge! In reality, all of these things mean this: You turn the knife that wounded you.
But if you had immediately removed it and tossed it far from you, very little damage would have been done. You turn the knife and in no way want to remove it. Who is mostly to blame now?
Fine someone hurt you. That is their business. But if that person is to blame once, because they stab you, the fact that you hold onto the knife and do not remove it, and even turn it, makes you to blame one hundred times, a thousand times more.
It is true that the evil began from what the other person did in the beginning. But if we analyze this and look deeper, we will see that we also contributed to the situation. No one is completely innocent.
God loves us, He protects and covers us. He does not leave us at the mercy of others.
If God allows us to suffer something, it means that we need it and we can take this situation and say, ‘Lord, since this situation happened, I must have needed it. Something was not going right in me. So, I am the deeper cause. Forgive the person who hurt me and what they did.‘
From then on, we will confront things correctly and not turn the knife inside our wound….”
Excerpted from Anxiety ~ How it is created and how it is healed, pp9-10
“Once some university students from Thessaloniki asked me how they could find time to pray during their exams since their schedule was full of studying. I told them that they did not need to find time, but just fill in their ’empty’ time.
In order to make sure they understood me, I told them about the atom in molecular physics. Science teaches that the atom has a nucleus and is surrounded by electrons. The scientists know this about something invisible – it cannot be seen with the naked eye or a microscope. There is also an empty space between the nucleus and the electrons, which… cannot be seen by any instrument. This is similar to astronomy – the sun is in the center surrounded by the planets… These astronomical bodies, which take up a certain amount of empty space, make up our solar system. The atom is similar in that it has a nucleus, electrons, and the empty space or vastness. However, even if you try to see this empty space, you never will. The atom itself is invisible, so how can the empty space be seen? But still, the atom has been discovered by scientists. In other words, is it not something fake, it is real. The atom is so extremely small but still contains an empty space, a vastness.
Now you can understand the gap that exists in our time! So, I told these students, as you sit and study perhaps you think, ‘Will I manage this or not? What will my instructor say to me? Will I manage to answer the questions? And if I fail, what will I tell my parents?’ You are consumed with anxiety. You are supposedly studying, but these thoughts attack you inside. If, however, you studied in a more carefree way, with more trust in God, without letting all of these things attack your soul and consume you, so much more time would be left in your ’empty’ time. This is the time you would use to lift up your head a little to take a deep breath and say, ‘Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me.’ If you say this with your heart completely at ease, with a great deal of trust in God, this equals twenty-four hours of prayer.
We have a great deal of such ’empty’ time that we can fill with prayer – from the moment we awake until the moment we go to sleep. When a person begins to trust in God, to be at ease, to be in communion with Him, they begin to live in a carefree way and their life becomes pleasant. It is not that they are unaffected by things that happen. No. They experience things but are never shaken. Thus, when they do their work, prayer is present, God is present. Wherever they work, prayer is present, everything is present….”
Excerpted from Anxiety ~ How it is created and how it is healed, pp29-31
A Message from Maria Spanos
I am passionate about our Orthodox Christian faith and seek to help others learn as much as they can about it. My purpose here is to share online resources that help strengthen our relationship with Christ and bind us closer to His Church. I believe they are invaluable in learning about our precious Orthodox Tradition, and are a great aid for teaching family members, friends and others about Orthodoxy. ~Maria
Two of my favorite quotes:
“A true Christian behaves in this life so that it may be a preparation for the future one and not only a life here below. In his actions, he does not think what will be said of him here but of what will be said there in heaven; he represents to himself that he is always in the presence of God, of the angels and all the saints, and remembers that someday they will bear witness of his thoughts, words, and deeds.” — Saint John of Kronstadt
“Of all the holy works, the education of children is the most holy.”
— St. Theophan the Recluse