angstFor days I have been waking up with a pit in my stomach. In trying to identify exactly what I was feeling I decided that it would best be described as angst.

I’m going to let you into my head for a moment. (that was a warning!)

As I was writing that first sentence I was going to say it would best be described as anxiety but I stopped myself. I said to myself (I talk to myself a lot), “No, it’s not anxiety, it’s angst.”

And then I thought, “What’s the difference between anxiety and angst?”

So, I looked it up. All this before I’ve even finished my first cup of tea!

Here is how the Urban Dictionary described angst:

Angst, often confused with anxiety, is a transcendent emotion in that it combines the unbearable anguish of life with the hopes of overcoming this seemingly impossible situation. Without the important element of hope, then the emotion is anxiety, not angst.

A light bulb went off! Three things jumped out at me that helped me put things in perspective.

  1. Angst is an emotion. I pay attention to my emotions because they are an indication that something is going on in my heart that I need to address, but I refuse to be ruled by them.
  1. Life is full of anguish and managing the tension between its existence and the power to overcome it, is an ongoing battle. I have to remind myself that we live in a broken world. It is unrealistic to expect that life should just sail along smoothly all the time. When I normalize setbacks and realize they are just part of life, it makes them easier to manage. I can rest knowing that the rough patches come and they go.
  1. Hope is THE most important element – without it I’m sunk. Hope is what will help me to keep the normal angst of life from turning into anxiety! Hope is critical.

My particular angst is originating from trying to finish writing my first book. The emotion surrounding it is feeling like a failure by not meeting all my self-imposed deadlines. At times the demands of family and ministry on my schedule and mental energy make it seemingly impossible. But… I have hope. Hope will prevent it from turning into anxiety.

Is there something you are feeling angst over? Something not going along quite as you planned despite of every effort on your part?

Don’t be carried away by the emotion of it. Emotions alert us to triggers that may be being pushed so use them to identify the source of your angst. Try to normalize the obstacles in life. They are part of life.

Most of all, never lose HOPE. Losing hope is the only way to assure that whatever it is you are reaching for or believing for will not happen.

Hanging onto hope is how you will overcome that seemingly impossible situation.

Wikepedia says:

Hope is an optimistic attitude of mind based on an expectation of positive outcomes related to events and circumstances in one’s life or the world at large.

And you know if Wikipedia says it it must be true 😉

More importantly God says:

Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. (Romans 12:12)

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. (Jeremiah 29:11)

Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. (Romans 5: 2-5)

I echo Paul’s sentiment in a wish for you today….

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope!! (Romans 15:13)