The freedom to be who you really are

By Riverine Herald

‘‘NO WORRIES, mate, she’ll be right.’’

Aussies are world-renowned for being relaxed and stress free, and yet the reality is very different.

Recent health surveys show more than one in three women and one in five men struggle with anxiety.

Anxiety heads the list of mental health issues that Australians struggle with.

There are many factors that contribute to the build-up of stress and worry that can lead to anxiety — a stressful job or relationship, sickness, financial issues.

But one issue that’s becoming increasingly recognised is the higher scrutiny that our lives are under because of social media.

The fact is that we live in a high-pressure culture, where every aspect of our lives is now on display for the world around us to see.

Whether it’s our health, wealth, family, career or social status, we are constantly trying to perform for people around us, and the pressure is simply too much for many of us to bear.

What if it was possible to throw off the performance, to stop having to pretend that we had it all together?

Worrying about our lives isn’t a new problem.

People have been worrying for the entirety of human existence.

In fact, when Jesus was speaking to people nearly 2000 years ago, worry was one of the big issues that they were dealing with too.

He once told a group ‘Don’t worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own (Matthew 6:34)’.

But he didn’t just stop at giving people good advice on how to deal with anxiety, he actually did something about it.

He broke the performance mentality and welcomed people as they were.

God’s welcome is a gift, it’s not based on what you do, so that no-one can boast (Ephesians 2:9).

And he offers us the same welcome as a free gift if we just trust in him.

We don’t have to put on a performance for Jesus and pretend we’ve got it all together for him to accept us.

What a relief.

In fact, we couldn’t even if we tried, because he always sees right through us, to who we really are.

And that’s the beauty of coming to church.

We know that Jesus can see our faults and our struggles, and yet he still loves us and welcomes us in.

And that frees us to love and accept each other.

Don’t feel like you need to scrub up to come to church. Why not wander in and experience the freedom to be who you really are?

Donovan Jasper, New Life Baptist Church

■ If you need support, contact Lifeline on 131 114, or visit beyondblue.org.au