anticipatory anxiety


Hearing that word, many of you in my generation will think of the Carly Simon song ( I’m humming the chorus right now.

But if I’m honest, for much of my life anticipation was all about worrying–“preparing” as I liked to call it. “What should I wear? What will I say? What will they think? What if he gets angry? Rehearsing alternative scenarios over and over in my mind…”

I called this preparation, but the result didn’t bring the confidence that being prepared is supposed to bring.  I was lying to myself. In reality, I was worrying, rehearsing my anxiety over and over again until I could feel its presence in my head and my body as if it had a life of its own.

And it never did me a bit of good! Quite the opposite, in fact.

With God’s help, I’ve been able to recognize my anticipatory anxiety and exchange it for true preparation: the process of becoming ready for something. It takes practice in the same way that practicing your scales will lay the groundwork, mentally and physically, for your future music-making. I prepare for the future in confidence because I am learning to understand and appreciate my design–God’s design for me. I trust in His help, His timing, and His presence.

Anticipatory anxiety produces thoughts like:

  • My heart is sick, withered like grass, and I have lost my appetite. Psalm 102:4
  • Some sat in darkness and deepest gloom, imprisoned in iron chains of misery. Psalm 107:10
  • I am a joke to people everywhere; when they see me, they shake their heads in scorn. Psalm 110:25

True preparation brings the following:

  • My heart is confident in you, O God; no wonder I can sing your praises with all my heart! Psalm 108:1
  • With God’s help we will do mighty things, for he will trample down our foes. Psalm 108:13
  • All you who fear the Lord, trust the LordHe is your helper and your shield. The Lord remembers us and will bless us. Psalm 155:11-12a



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