It’s Okay… by Jane Strebel
Do you remember the excitement you felt every year on the last day of school? The anticipation of its coming was almost more than a kid could handle, wasn’t it? No more homework! No more tests! Those summer days seemed to loom with an almost endless promise of fun things to do.
Likewise, as the summer excitement waned, we would begin to anticipate the dawn of a new school year. We wondered how much our friends had grown and changed, who would be in our class, and if there would be any new kids. The excitement of a new school year was also surely coupled with a healthy dose of anxiety. Would we like our new teacher? Would our new teacher like us? Would the school bully be in our class again this year?
It seems that we humans can feel positive anticipation for things and yet still experience a certain amount of anxiety. We know, of course, that too much anxiety is a bad thing, something that can lead to high blood pressure, sleeplessness, and worse. The apostle Paul even wrote that we are not to be anxious about anything, a goal that I would certainly like to attain but have, at least thus far, fallen far short of achieving.
Have you noticed how sometimes anticipation and anxiety just seem to go hand-in-hand? For example, weddings and childbirth, both definitely life-changing events, are normally filled with amazingly wonderful anticipation. Surely, however, even the most positive of people have to admit to feeling at least a twinge of preliminary anxiety. Just suppose something goes horribly wrong!
I am reminded of a dear friend who allowed me to share some of her final days here on this earth. We spoke of memories and loved ones, regrets and accomplishments, until I finally asked, “Miss Alma, are you excited that you’ll soon be seeing your husband and parents in heaven? “She responded quietly, “Yes, but I’m also a little anxious.” Her honesty astounded me, for Alma was one of the most loving, gentle people I had ever known. She was a model of someone who served others, a person whose faith was strong. And yet, there it was, anxiety.
Paul was right, of course. We shouldn’t devote our lives to worry and anxiousness. Perhaps, however, during those life-changing times (and our impending death is certainly the most life-changing event we’ll ever experience), it just might be okay to have a tiny bit of “anticipatory anxiety” for the wonders that await us. I think even Paul might have to agree it’s okay!