Tuesday, August 18, 2020

One Strategy for Dealing with an Anxious Heart in These Difficult Days

I've heard from a number of people in recent weeks who are worried, frustrated, discouraged right now. Some are outraged because of the coming election. Some are worried because of race and justice issues. Some are angry because of people's response to COVID-19 and others because of the non-response to COVID-19. Many people are concerned and anxious because of divisions in the United States.

I felt some of that anxiousness this last Spring, and I wanted to share a strategy that my wife and I have used to help deal with that anxiety.

It is totally unhealthy to stay in a constant state of outrage. It masked in my own heart what I was really upset about on a day-to-day basis. It is also not the fruit of the Spirit to live that way. Most of the things I was outraged about had nothing to do with me, my family, or my community. Most of all, that way of living was not going to produce in me the life God wants: "Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires" (James 1:19-20).

We radically changed how we consume news and use social media so that we are not constantly upset.

  1. We each subscribed to 1-3 (Emma-1 and Joe-3) newsletters giving a quick rundown of daily news. Not opinion newsletters or ones focused on persuasion. We wanted to not miss something truly newsworthy.
  2. I stopped listening to news/politics opinion podcasts. I totally unsubscribed so that I don't even see what they talk about.
  3. We stopped reading or watching news otherwise. I deleted the Twitter news lists I used to keep up with the latest stories. I mostly avoid news outside of those newsletters I mentioned earlier.
  4. We stopped scrolling through social media feeds (Facebook Newsfeed, Instagram Feed, etc.). This is the most radical step, but we had found so many opinions and fake news stories were being published that we were constantly outraged by something. Cutting this out, cut down on the needless and unrighteous outrage we felt.
I think a lot more people should take these steps. I think that as long as people (me included) are stuck inside outrage bubbles listening to the latest bad thing someone did or said, then we won't be able to live the lives God has called us to live.

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