I started biting my fingernails around 2010. For over a decade I tried everything I could think of to stop. The impulse overpowered ‘stop and grow’ liquids and constant reminders from my family.
It was a bad habit, but surely unrelated to anxiety or anything important. After all, it outlasted all sorts of life stages. I bit my nails, but I wasn’t a nail-biter.
Then my wife and I boarded a plane to Fiji for our honeymoon.
After a few days, I noticed the beginnings of whites on the end of each nail. I proudly displayed them to my wife and sent photos to my family. I was cured!
Back home, I lasted maybe an entire week before relapsing.
We talk about ‘the water we swim in’ – elements of our environment that we take for granted. Here, it took literally swimming in beautiful Fijian water to recognise the daily anxiety I experienced.
In my defence, I’ve always lived in Sydney, where everything is loud and fast and overscheduled. It’s easy to feel restless and burdened.
But I’ve also always been a Christian. In many respects, Christianity is quiet and slow, with personal connection to a sympathetic God.
Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened … and you will find rest for your souls.”
So why did my honeymoon give me rest in a way that my faith seemingly hasn’t?
Flying to Fiji, we left Sydney behind. Our only baggage was a couple of (comically overpacked) suitcases.
But in my spiritual life, I carry a lot of baggage I could really do without. Sometimes I cling to my burdens.
The more I know Jesus, the more I find rest in him.
One day, I think I’ll trust him enough to leave my fingernails alone.