Marlene had to admit that a lot of her anxiety was born of a sense of childish entitlement which went something like this: “I’ve had an awful life, so I’m entitled to cut corners here and there to make it easier on myself.” The result was that she had bounced a check. And this wasn’t, unfortunately, the first time. “If I’m going to turn my life around and ditch this foolish anxiety problem, then I simply have to force myself to do my checkbook regularly. There is no excuse for this,” she said to herself.

As she stood on line at the bank, Marlene had an “Ah-ha!” experience. It came to her, with an unheard-of forcefulness that if she could get control of her anxiety so well—and she was, indeed, feeling a lot better—she could get control of some of the things that had triggered her anxiety in the first place. She had absolutely hated balancing her checkbook. It was the most boring, annoying act on earth. It took up so much time, and invariably she made countless arithmetical errors. That’s why her way of coping had been to always keep enough money in the account to protect herself from situations like this one. Obviously, it was not a good enough system because something had gone wrong.

She finished with the banking and as she headed toward the door, she noticed a brochure for getting online banking. Sure enough, with this free program, she could keep up to date on her account daily. She retraced her steps and headed over to a desk to sign up for it. From there, she set out for the office supply store and bought a computer program to help her with balancing the account. With a sigh, she acknowledged that math would never be her strong point but that she could take these pro-active steps to head off problems in the future. As she returned home, Marlene felt surprisingly perky. It was an unusual reaction to bouncing a check. With a smile on her face, she had to admit that this whole experience left her feeling empowered. She knew that she would probably not bounce a check again and that would be one less reason to have a panic attack.

As she turned the key in the lock, she heard the phone ringing inside. She dashed in and picked it up. It was her husband, Mel. His voice sounded tired, bracing for whatever bad news he expected to hear from Marlene today. “Guess what?” Marlene asked him brightly. “My anxiety is going to be a thing of the past. I took my first steps today and I feel WONDERFUL!”

One more relationship saved. Can you see how Marlene ended up even better, spiritually richer than if she had never had this problem? Because of the anxiety, she had been staying away from balancing her checkbook. But, of course, the bounced checks produced worse anxiety. Either way, she was a victim of the anxiety. She had been allowing the anxiety to rule her. When she took control by signing up for online banking and buying the software—and using them properly—she did more than overcome her anxiety problem in one particular instance. She learned that it would be possible to be in control of all of her life (to the extent any of us are). This was a whole, new revelation for her. She literally felt like a new person, and it all came about because of grappling with the anxiety instead of allowing it to rule her. Had she never had the anxiety, she would not have learned this important life lesson.

How do you suppose this affected her relationship? It totally changed her, and, as a consequence, Mel began to delight in her company. Thinking of her brought a smile to his face. As he said recently to a friend, “I am the luckiest guy in the world.”

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