There is a certain point in a person’s life when they look at everything they have done and working towards and asked the dangerous, deadly question:
“Is it all worth it?” and “What could this possibly amount to?”
I believe that these are questions of both healthy concern, and misguided anxiety. The line between those is often blurred and difficult to determine, but the difference is unfathomably important to see.
Fear and the knowledge of negative consequences are programmed into us as human beings. It’s healthy. If nothing else – if it does its job – it keeps us out of trouble. If we can examine ourselves and see flaw, we should take heed and seek correction. We are not perfect! Thus, there will be many a time when we will need an adjustment or two.
Anxiety, on the other hand, is not healthy at all.
Listen to what Philippians has to say.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Being anxious = bad. Got it. But notice what it follows up with. The Bible doesn’t say that you should throw your cares to the wind, but rather to God. In him we can find our peace, surpassing all understanding. Seeking peace in God will also guard us from this life destroying infection. Anxiety can kill giants, and although I’m over six foot tall, I’m nowhere near their level.
When you get to college, you learn that the world is full of risks. I’m a liberal arts major, going to a small Christian college hours away from home. Over the summer, I’ve been going over seas (a terrifying experience, to be honest). I stand firm in my Christian beliefs. I drive my own car. I talk and interact with other people.
I’m banking on a lot when I take these risks. Some of them are risks I’ve taken over and over again, and I don’t always know if they’ve paid off until it’s possibly too late.
So how do we determine between fatal anxiety and correction? Knowing what you know and having confidence in that is a really important life skill, but being ignorant of ignorance is a fatal flaw. So how do you proceed if anxiety threatens to hold you back? How could you avoid taking risks if fear is healthy?
Hold onto that question, because we’re going into a gear change;
I’m an anime fan. At least, as much of an anime fan as a careful Christian can dare to be. Anime has some darker sides, but if you pay attention to any red flags as to keep your mind pure and your steps careful, you can come upon some great plot and outstanding characters.
Let me talk briefly about two of them in light of this topic.
The first one is named Shirou Emiya, a young man who is pulled into an action packed, magical war between legendary and historical fighters. This anime has had a couple of different versions that have come out, but each one tried to be very philosophical.
Shirou’s main goal is to save everyone, without killing. Pretty basic and typical drive for a young protagonist. He’s faced with adversaries who monologue a lot about how he is wrong. In war, to save, you must kill. However, the show takes an interesting turn when it came to the conclusion.
“If you walk down the path that you believe is right, you cannot be wrong.” – Shirou Emiya
A very modern idea. He surmised that if you believe in your heart that you are right, even though your are indeed wrong, you are justified in your beliefs. Shirou was wrong, but his belief made him justified in being wrong. It kicked the air out of anything the character had going for him, and fell flat just in time for the climax.
Shirou knew he was wrong, and the show said that we was wrong, but the conclusion was that he was right in his beliefs. At its best, it was a glorified ignorance put in a positive light.
Another character; Rurouni Kenshin. Kenshin is a retired samurai and manslayer who now wanders the land, wrestling with the guilt from the countless he killed in a war long past. In the start of the series he crosses paths with a young woman who seeks to uphold the teachings of her father. She firmly believes that one must use the sword to protect, and not to kill. This ideal is very similar to the Shirou’s, but the conclusion made is very different.
“A sword is a weapon. The art of swordsmanship is learning how to kill. That is the truth. What Miss Kaoru says is sweet and innocent talk that only those whose hands have never been stained with the blood of men can believe. But, to tell you the truth, I much prefer Miss Kaoru’s sweet and innocent talk over the truth, indeed I do!” -Rurouni Kenshin
Kenshin’s conclusion recognizes the truth. He recognizes the fact that this world uses the way of the sword for slaughter, and that her ideals are naive. However, they lie in a hope that Shirou’s did not. Shirou’s philosophy focused in on how he was right, even though he was wrong. Kenshin, however, recognized that Miss Kaoru was wrong, even though he knew that it was a risk worth taking.
Putting off the impossible due to a blind determination is folly. Being defeated by the impossible due to anxiety and the thought of your odds is also folly. So what are we left with? We are left with the recognition that things in this world will not go our way. We will be wrong, but gosh darn it, we’ll take that risk anyway! For our God is a God who leads his people in grand ways.
It’s worth mentioning that Shirou Emiya kills a main antagonist to prove his point of not needing to kill to protect the ones he loves, proving that he was wrong… but still right? It didn’t work for me for obvious reasons. However, Kenshin goes through much of his adventures striving to avoid killing anyone ever again. He stumbles and falls, but recognizes this.
These are the risks worth taking; if you are trusting in the highest power for his peace, recognize the chance of failure, and striving for something greater despite the odds, then you have something to fight for.
Being a liberal arts major can often be rough. It’s a lot of work, and sometimes not a lot of respect. Some say that the world no longer has a place for us. Those people are not wrong. With a job market that is quickly fading, its hard to stay motivated when looking toward the future.
But here’s my philosophy. All my life, God has put me on a path and blessed me with a love for it. It’s hard to imagine studying anything else other than the English language. What kind of foolish man would say “The Lord will not bless you, because you followed in the way you thought was honoring to him” or “Because you studied English, the Lord will not provide for you and your family”?
Instead, I look to the one who gave me this love for language in the first place. He provides for the needy. I’m not right because I believe myself to be so, but because there is a higher power that makes this risk worth taking.
Don’t let anxiety ruin you. Don’t let the future scare you away. Hold strong to a firm foundation, and know that you can take that risk.
2 Corinthians 9:7-10 (ESV)
“Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.”