Anxiety Is Overcome by Gratitude

November 13, 2017
Joyce Landers, Province IV Representative, UTO Board

Joyce Landers UTO“Anxiety is overcome by gratitude.” A friend shared this quote on Facebook one day and I liked it. I shared with several friends but soon forgot about it. I didn’t even really think that hard about it. It is something we all do – share the wise words and then forget them. Several weeks later, I was given a powerful example of the meaning of this statement.

I live in the small town of Troy, located in south Alabama. I work in an office located at a busy intersection with Highway 231, which is one of the main roads people take to travel to most of Florida. Hurricane Irma was just two days away from hitting. My coworker, Amanda, went home during her lunch break. Driving back, she waited for the traffic light so she could proceed across the highway and come back to work. She was within about 30 yards of the office. An officer was standing in the intersection and directed her to turn right. She indicated she needed to go straight and he waved his head no and motioned for her to turn right. Now she was driving south, out of town, and away from the office. Amanda turned into the parking lot of a home improvement store, thinking she could turn around and come back at the light. There were about five or six cars in front of her. After some time had elapsed, she realized the light was not going to change. The car in front was stubbornly waiting for the light to turn green despite drivers honking their horns at her. Amanda was now 15 minutes late for work and trapped between cars, not able go anywhere.

She called me to let me know what was happening. Amanda is a fairly emotional person; she gets especially upset when faced with unexpected challenges. Predictably, she was ranting. By now, she had surmised that the lights were changed to facilitate the evacuees from Florida. “I understand that thousands of people are trying to get through Troy, but there ARE people who live here. Are we supposed to stay at home and not go anywhere? Why didn’t they post signs so that motorists could make better plans? How are we supposed to get to work or pick up children from school? I am trapped and late for work!” She was upset about losing time at work, which was costing money. She was upset that I was stuck handling the work in our department alone. I assured her that I possessed superhuman powers and could handle the work on my own for a short time. She then cut the call short because someone had gotten out of a car to tell the person at the front of the line to drive.

Amanda finally arrived about 40 minutes late. I was braced for Mount Vesuvius or at least Krakatoa, but she was surprisingly calm. She told me she was finally able to turn right and then found a large enough break in the traffic south of town to turn left onto a county road. This road eventually brought her back into town on the correct side of the highway. During her wait, she began to notice the cars. They all had Florida plates and were filled to the roof with stuff. The cars were most likely filled not only with luggage but also photo albums, computers, and Grandma’s china. It occurred to her that at least a few of the people she saw would soon lose everything they had. Many of them were forced to leave behind beloved pets, hoping and praying for the best. Guilt washed over Amanda. She started praying for each family and then thanked God that she, her family, and their homes were safe.

That afternoon, I found myself drawn to the windows and praying for all the people traveling north. I prayed for the pets. I prayed for safe travels. I prayed for those who chose not to evacuate. When I got home, I thanked God that we were safe and made a contribution to my blue UTO box. I now fully understand that anxiety really is overcome by gratitude.