“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat [or drink], or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds in the sky; they do not sow or reap, they gather nothing into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are not you more important than they?
Can any of you by worrying add a single moment to your life-span?” (Matthew 6:25-27)
According to the Anxiety & Depression Association of America, there are 6.8 million adults who are affected by General Anxiety Disorder. And according to a study done by a Georgetown research group, from 2016 to 2019, the percentage of children and adolescents who suffer from anxiety disorders increased by 27% and 24% respectively.
“By 2020, 5.6 million kids (9.2%) had been diagnosed with anxiety problems and 2.4 million (4.0%) had been diagnosed with depression.
About 5 million kids also experienced behavior and conduct problems in 2020, a 21 percent increase from the previous year.” (Georgetown University Health Policy Institute)
What is happening? What is happening to the youth and their peace? What is happening to the adults who are supposed to be guiding and forming the young minds of America and the world? Have the words of Jesus fallen on deaf ears? Why have we become so consumed with our discomfort and inadequacy?
A brief look at the cultural standards of today will give you many of the answers: social media, hero worship, and a secular worldview. In other words, vanity, idolatry, and godlessness; vices that have been around since the beginning of time.
Adults and children alike are now entirely consumed by the pressure to look as good as their peers, have as many possessions as their peers, indulge in the same substances as their peers, live lavish lifestyles, hang out with the coolest people. Social media provides an outlet for billions of people to connect, but it also provides a lens through which people can choose to let others view their lives. Everybody sees the positive parts, but nobody sees the negative. Make others want what you have. And when others can’t measure up, they should feel inadequate.
Instead of looking to the intellectuals, the scholars, the saints, and the philosophers for the answers to happiness and peace of mind, people are looking to celebrities, rockstars, athletes, and “influencers”. Jesus didn’t have a Lamborghini and live in a mansion, so what does he know about happiness? St. Augustine never released an album that went platinum or ran for 1,000 yards in the NFL, so what does he know about being successful?
Too many people have a problem with comparing themselves to ill-fitting role models when the only person they should be striving to imitate is Christ. Christ is perfection incarnate. When we seek to be like Him, we set ourselves free from the discomfort of stacking up against our neighbors. We let go of anxiety, stress, worry, unease, and fear.
“Why are you anxious about clothes? Learn from the way the wild flowers grow. They do not work or spin. But I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was clothed like one of them. If God so clothes the grass of the field, which grows today and is thrown into the oven tomorrow, will he not much more provide for you, O you of little faith?
So do not worry and say, ‘What are we to eat?’ or ‘What are we to drink?’ or ‘What are we to wear?’ All these things the pagans seek. Your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom [of God] and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides. Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself. Sufficient for a day is its own evil.” (Matthew 6:28-34)
It’s time to disconnect from the uncontrollable pressures that are keeping us from breathing. Strive for greatness in all things. Be the best in your field. Be the best parent and spouse that you can be. Be the best version of yourself, but do not let the secular world define what that means to you. Let God do that. When you feel the pressures of the world coming to a boil and you begin to worry about the problems of tomorrow, use the words of St. Faustina Kowalska: “Jesus, I trust in you.”
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