‘Time and Anxiety’

I’ve always wondered what age I will be in heaven…

Well, I read something a little while back that gave me a clue.  A very young girl had been revived after being clinically dead for a short while.  When she awoke, she told her family that she was met by her (departed) grandmother and that they had spent some time together.  As she relayed the encounter to her family, there was one element that stood out.  The little girl spoke calmly, and as if nothing was strange, about the way her grandmother had looked.  It was as if her grandmother was a young girl, a young woman, and an older woman all at the same time – as if there was one face that showed ‘all’ of her grandmother in one glance.

Perhaps it’s a glimpse into how God sees us.  In this life, we have to go through one year before we get to see the next one – we know what has past, but do not know what is to come.  But God stands ‘outside of time’.  It’s as if he has a deck of cards and can flip all the moments of our life ‘face up’ on a table and view our entire life ‘in the present’.  He can see our entire life in one glance.  There is no future or past for God – it’s all right now.

Then, during this Sunday’s homily, something hit me when I heard the phrase ‘we have regrets about the past, and have anxieties and worries about the future’.  Something about that phrase just struck me.

I had never thought about the fact that the word ‘regret’ is tied only to events in the past.  The word itself cannot be used about something ‘yet to come’.  You cannot regret what you are going to do next Thursday until after you do it.  The event has to be something in the past before it can become a regret.

I had also never realized that ‘anxiety’ and ‘worry’ are words that are tied only to events in the future.  And not just the word ‘anxiety’ – but the very concept of ‘being anxious’ requires some notion of a future event.

For a moment, I thought that I could worry about something in the past happening again – but then I realized that the anxiety would still be for the future event, not the original one.  Think about it – you simply can’t be anxious about the past.

With me so far?  Good.  Let’s put this together…

God sees our entire lives in one glance.  That little girl saw her grandmother in one glance.  Our life is a single entity.  What an amazing view it must be to be able to see it that way.  If you could somehow ‘see your life the way God does’, everything would be present tense – no past, no future.  And – if no future – no anxiety.

Could this be part of what God has in mind when he tells us – again and again – not to be afraid?  Not to be anxious?  Not to worry?

Now, I don’t think for a moment that God meant that we should be careless and reckless, but rather that we should be confident in our approach to life.  We should assess situations, seek wisdom, and act prudently.  But while we do have to make decisions, we don’t have to be anxious about it.  He says so!

To wrap things up, I’ve heard that the only things you regret on your deathbed are the things you didn’t do.  The vacations you didn’t take.  The marathons you didn’t run.  The reconciliations you didn’t initiate.

With that in mind, should we be anxious about what we are not going to do?  In this life, are we doomed to be anxious about what we will one day regret?

And, in the next life, will we look back with regret on all the time we spent being anxious?


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