I know now, Lord, why you utter no answer.
You are yourself the answer.
Before your face questions die away.
~C.S. Lewis from Till We Have Faces
Today I help greet new and returning 15,000 college students who begin classes this week at my university. Each one seeks answers to their many difficult questions about life and how to live in this troubled time.
Every day I will see college students who are so consumed by anxiety about the questions in their lives they become immobilized in their ability to move forward through inevitable obstacles and difficulties. They become so stuck in overwhelming feelings they can’t sleep or eat or think clearly, distracted by their symptoms. They self-medicate, self-injure and self-hate. Being unable to nurture themselves or others, they wither like a young tree without roots deep enough to reach the vast reservoir of answers that lies untapped beneath them. In epidemic numbers, some decide to die, even before life really has fully begun for them.
I grieve for them in their distress. My role is to help find healing solutions, whether it is counseling therapy, a break from school, or a medicine that may give some form of relief. My heart knows the ultimate answer is not as simple as the right prescription.
Before the face of God, the questions fall away.
We who are anxious are not trusting a Creator who does not suffer from attention deficit disorder and who is not distracted from His care for us even when we turn away in worry and sorrow. We magnify our difficult circumstances by staying so tightly into ourselves, unable to look beyond our own eyelashes. Instead we are to reach higher and deeper, through prayer, through service to others, through acknowledging there is power greater than ourselves who can answer all our unaskable questions.
So we are called to pray for ourselves and for others, disabling our anxiety and fear and transforming it to gratitude and grace.
No longer withering, no longer deaf to the answers we’ve been given, we just might bloom.