anxietyBy John D. Pierce

Our well-established, sprawling neighborhood has a Facebook page that serves a variety of purposes — ranging from helpful to annoying.

Residents recommend painters, plumbers and other home repair specialists. And there are shared opportunities for yard sales or to get a better deal on pine straw delivery.

Each Christmas, we set the community aglow with luminaries lining the streets. It’s beautiful.

The primary function of this online connection seems to be reconnecting pets with owners. The animals and owners seem pleased with such reunions.

Some neighbors take to the forum to push their causes — getting preachy about fireworks, potholes or Jesus.

Some seize this social medium to sell their wares — seeing neighbors as convenient customers.

And, frankly, some are alarmists — always warning about the appearance of a person or vehicle they don’t immediately recognize as familiar and friendly.

Caution is good — as is having neighbors who look out for one another. However, setting one’s default on fear is an uncomfortable, anxiety-enhancing way to live.

Fear provides a lens through which every life experience is seen for its destructive rather than hopeful potential. It creates the inability to distinguish between gang activity and students from the nearby private school having Pokémon clashes.

Sometimes, racial descriptions border on stereotypes if not prejudice. They remind me of something I read in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution a few years ago:

A woman called 911 to report a black man climbing the fence into the exclusive country club community where she lived. Police found him.

It was Braves outfielder Otis Nixon — coming home from fishing in the Chattahoochee River. (Climbing fences was his professional specialty.)

Caution, as I noted, is a good thing. I want to be warned if a dangerous situation develops near my home — or if some good neighbor is giving away homegrown tomatoes.

I’m less interested in persistent marketing and the alarmist anxieties that see every unrecognizable face or unfamiliar experience as threatening.

However, I’ve noticed also that anxious people can get frustrated when non-anxious people don’t share their anxieties.


John Pierce

About John Pierce

John D. Pierce is editor of Nurturing Faith Journal — the signature publication of Baptists Today, Inc. He is also publisher of Nurturing Faith Books and Resources. Previously he served as managing editor of The Christian Index and as Baptist campus minister at Georgia Tech and Kennesaw State University. A native of Ringgold, Ga., he is a graduate of Berry College (B.A.), Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (M.Div.), and Columbia Theological Seminary (D.Min.). He speaks frequently in churches, consults with congregations concerning communications and holds interim pastorates.