A non-anxious presence works like this: You are hit with a problem or crisis that immediately causes you to become anxious. Your mind races in half-thoughts imagining the worst. You share your news with others who react in a similar way. But then you run into someone who reacts differently, someone who remains calm.
They are fully aware of what is going on and yet they exude a sence of confidence that things will work out. This person has been where you are or known others who have been. All of a sudden you begin to calm down. Your heart returns to a near-normal pace as you are able to collect a few deep breaths.
That person was a non-anxious presence in your life. I’ve been on both ends of this scenario as the anxious person and as the non-anxious presence; and I’ve even seen it happen within whole groups of people. One person with a calm demeanor can influence others just by their presence. John Ortberg offers this thought experiment:
- Imagine not being afraid any more.
- Imagine facing financial difficulties or an irate boss with inner poise and resolve.
- Imagine receiving bad news and generating constructive ways to solve the problem rather than spiraling through the worst-case scenarios.
- Imagine facing rejection and obstacles without giving in to discouragement.
- Imagine acknowledging the mistakes you have made, moving confidently into the future.
- Now imagine people around you coming to you when they are upset or discouraged because they find that your peace of mind is contagious.
Now consider what it would be like to have someone with you ALL THE TIME as a non-anxious presence to help you live out what you’ve just imagined. That person is the Holy Spirit! He dwells in us to comfort and guide us through every step of life. Even when the unexpected surprises us, it doesn’t surprise Him.
The mind surrendered to the control of the Holy Spirit overcomes fear and leads instead to life and peace. There is a phrase that wonderfully captures the role the Spirit wants to play in our hearts and minds:
The Spirit of God is a non-anxious presence!