In My Bright Abyss, poet and Yale professor Christian Wiman wrote, “There is nothing more difficult to outgrow than anxieties that have become useful to us.”
I’m a psychotherapist who used to be a Baptist pastor in the Southeast. For much of my life I have believed that anxiety is not only an unfortunate byproduct of pursuing excellence in my life and work (sort of like off-gassing for the human soul) but a deeply integral component of that which secures my success. Somehow I picked up along the way that my anxiety was a reliable way of measuring how hard I was working and how seriously I was taking the next assignment, job, prayer, paper, relationship or client.
In the span of a week, two students who survived the Parkland School Shooting have tragically died in apparent suicides. The first, was Sydney Aiello on Sunday, March 17th. Next, was Calvin Desir on Saturday, March 23rd. Then, on Monday, March 25th, Jeremy Richland, the father of one of the 26 victims in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting took his own life.While, it is still too early for an explanation into the reasons for their deaths, it is suspected that SydneyAiello was struggling with “survivor’s guilt”. It’s not too hard to imagine that the same could be the reason for the other two deaths.Both of the mass shooting events, as well as many others that have occurred over the last couple decades have been followed by calls for stricter gun control laws and other security measures. What may not appear to be as obvious a need, but probably should be, is greater grief counseling and/or long-term mental health services for survivors of these traumatic incidents.
“Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the Lord and shun evil. This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones.” (Proverbs 3:7-8)The Bible, aside from spelling out the life accounts of patriarchs and prophets, the redemptive work of Christ for humanity and the dos and don’ts of our faith as does every manual, also makes bare many principles concerning attaining good physical, mental and spiritual health. This is corroborated by The Wycliffe Bible Encyclopedia that says the laws Moses received from God, which make up the bulk of all health instructions in the Bible, contain remarkable rules pertaining to public health which concerns us even today, such as how to deal with infectious diseases, food and water hygiene and sewage disposal.“If you listen carefully to the voice of the Lord your God and do what is right in His eyes, if you pay attention to His commands and keep all His decrees, I will not bring on you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians…” (Exodus 15:26)