Dancing Anxiously at Life's Circumference


The last couple weeks have been incredibly stressful to me for a number of reasons, but the most pressing one for me right now is the fact that on Friday, I am slated to take the National Marriage and Family Therapy Licensing Exam.

And I’m feeling dreadfully unprepared for it.

I’ve been spending hours on hours studying, taking (and failing) practice quizzes and exams. What’s more, it has been a two-and-a-half year journey to this point since I moved to Arizona as the requirements for licensure are different in Arizona than they were in California.

I’ve had to jump through all kinds of hoops, gain a lot more hours of clinical practice, take a few different classes, compile a ton of paperwork, and pay thousands of dollars more to get to this point.

Needless to say: there is a lot riding on this test.

There is so much wrapped into this for me that I actually can’t really think about or do much else with my time. I feel anxious. I feel dumb when I fail the practice tests.

I just feel overwhelmed by the possibility of not passing this exam.

Sadly, this test is at the center of my life right now.

Or rather, I’m dancing around on the circumference of my life, and neglecting to dwell in the True Center: Christ.

So much of what I’m putting meaning into right now is leading up to a four-hour window in which I will either leave being able to practice Marriage and Family Therapy or I will leave having to retake the exam and try again. Very little effort has gone into seeking the Lord, trusting that I am His beloved child regardless of whether I pass this exam.

In reality, this test is minor. It is at the edges of my life, part of what I do, not constitutive of who I am.

Who I am is Christ’s. I belong to Christ. It is this identity that is at the center of my life, but I spend very little time dwelling in that center, trusting that the Lord has got a hold of me.

So I bounce around on the circumference of life, worrying about a test, or how loud the kids are, or how much work I have to do still, or how tired I am, blah blah blah. Being so distracted from the center of my life, it’s no wonder that my overall feeling is one of anxiety! I’m constantly trying to control things that come and go, that change with circumstances!

“Jesus Christ,” the Scriptures tell us, “is the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Heb. 13:8). I find this particularly comforting because rarely are yesterday, today, and forever all the same. They are constantly changing, and each day holds its own set of battles and surprises. But amidst the chaos, amidst the storm, Jesus Christ remains steadfast.

My identity, my value, my life does not rest in whether or not I pass my MFT exam. I would like to, of course, but this isn’t where my life comes from. Rather, in the words of St. Paul, “the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Gal. 2:20).

Christ alone is my life. Christ alone is the center, and it is that reality that allows me to navigate the storms on the circumference of my life. But it would also be nice if He helps me remember everything I’ve studied.

Photo Credits: Depositphotos

Christian is a Young Adult Ministries Coordinator for Y2AM. He is a husband, father, coffee drinker, sandal wearer, podcaster, and CrossFitter. Christian has his first MA from Azusa Pacific University in Marriage and Family Therapy and a second MA in Children, Youth, and Family Ministry from Luther Seminary. Christian and his family live in Phoenix, Arizona.