Recently the feelings of a small boy (and not so little boy) came back to me, getting back to school after an endless summer was perplexing. Seeing other students, my friends, after many weeks on holiday was one of mixed feelings. There was anxiety disguised in an endless grin. Grinning is not always winning! Yet I was still genuinely pleased to be back with school friends.
Coming out of lockdown and our first few Sundays you may have noticed I couldn’t stop grinning! It has been great to see you all again. I was very excited about seeing everybody again, all be it, I did enjoy the lockdown.
I remember, as a child that behind that smile was nervousness, trepidation, anxiety. Will people remember me? Will my friends still be my friends? Have we changed so much we had forgotten one another? The smile, and if you are the esteemed Sir Tim Shadbolt, the ‘facial affliction’ just doesn’t get wiped off your face, until there is an answer to the anxiety.
Nervous excitement, anxiety is a pervasive experience for me. Every Sunday or public occasion, there are butterflies heavily disguised with a grin. Butterflies about what to say whether it be a prayer or a sermon. Sometimes there can be an overwhelming sense of dread accompanied by an elevated heart rate and hyperventilation and the regret for having taken on the task. Yet once the wheels are in motion, there is a relief at being able to do something difficult, outside of the comfort zone.
I am assured anxiety is a normal human emotion. Everyone experiences it. It is part of the “opposition in all things,” without which there would be no “happiness nor misery, neither sense nor insensibility”. As such, this emotion serves us well. It is part of our emotional alarm system. It motivates us to prepare for important events. It causes us to protect ourselves when we feel threatened. It enhances performance. It helps us make thoughtful decisions, solve problems, and prepare for challenges. It reveals what we care about. But I have only learnt this in recent years, learning something and making the relevant mind and attitude adjustments is another thing altogether. Thus the journey of life.
It is so good to see you all, all of you I have caught up with so far. I am looking forward to seeing the rest of you soon.
Peace to you and yours, Colin