When Houston energy worker Shawn Baker was laid off in 2015, she opened a new business that quickly became a “smash hit.” It’s a place for angry, stressed-out, or anxiety-filled people to take out their frustrations on inanimate objects. Inside the building are four rooms lined with thick plywood, all stocked with old furniture, dishes, burned-out TVs and appliances, out-of-date electronics, and even feather pillows Baker buys from junk dealers or used furniture shops. Customers get their choice of instrument — golf club, baseball bat, lead pipe, or sledge hammer. Then, after donning mandatory protective equipment, they close themselves in a room and smash everything in sight.
Baker named her business Tantrums, LLC.
Customers pay $25 to $50 for five to fifteen minutes of demolition. After a session, the room looks like a war zone, filled with broken glass, feathers, ceramic shards, and electronic innards. People from all walks of life flock to Baker’s business — mothers, businessmen, doctors, teachers, oil and gas workers, and even some therapists.
Customers rave about how beneficial a session of smashing has been, enabling them to relieve stress in a controlled environment. Baker said, “I would have never thought I would be helping people like that.”
It’s easy to understand the impulse that drives customers to Shawn Baker’s business. Anxiety is one of the defining symptoms of our times. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, anxiety disorders affect forty million adults in the United States, or just over 18 percent of the population. Some anxiety disorders are clinical in origin, springing from genetics, brain chemistry, or both; others are the result of life events and conditions. Whatever their cause, we know rates are rising among all ages, including children and teens.
When it comes to dealing with these fears and stresses, most of us realize that smashing a microwave in a safe room is not going to cut it. Behind this kind of therapy is the idea that our fears and frustrations build tension that can only be released through violence. Certainly, taking a sledge hammer to a TV set is better than taking our emotions out on others, but the theory that anxiety can be banished and peace achieved through the application of violence is simply not true.
In His wisdom, God has provided support for those who need it through medication, counseling, and support groups. I urge you to seek help whenever you or your loved ones need it. A life in Christ does not remove us from the world; it sustains us in it.
Thankfully, one of the ways Christ sustains us in this world is through the gift of peace.
The Shoes of Peace
Here’s how Paul described that piece of armor:
Stand therefore… having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace. — Ephesians 6:14-15
The New Living Translation renders this verse:
For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared.
The shoes Paul used for his illustration were not the average person’s shoes; they were the open-toed leather boots worn by Roman soldiers. Made with nail-studded soles designed to grip the ground, they resembled our modern cleated football shoes. These boots were not made for running or even for marching. Instead, they were specifically designed for one primary purpose: to give the soldier stability in hand-to-hand combat against the enemy.
The Christians of that day would have understood what this meant: in hand-to-hand combat, the first to accidentally lose his footing is the first to fall!
Battling anxiety is like fighting the enemy in close combat in your mind.
If you’re unprepared, Satan sees that vulnerability. If you feel doubt, fear, hesitation, or uncertainty, he sees those things too. And whatever Satan observes, he uses to his advantage.
If you struggle with anxiety of any kind, you know that worry can surface many times a day. Maybe it’s a chronic, nagging voice telling you that you’re not good enough and never will be. Maybe it’s the aftermath of fear and trauma from violence or loss. Perhaps you struggle with a fear of rejection that makes you blurt out hurtful words before you can be hurt. Or maybe you exhaust yourself trying to control every aspect of your and your family’s lives in a vain effort to ease the constant worry and anxiety that hover at the edges of your mind.
But what would happen if instead of fear and vulnerability, the enemy saw preparation and strength in you? What if he saw certainty, faith, and trust? What if he saw that you, dealing with tough challenges and your own human limitations, were also standing strong in the peace of Christ?
Then the enemy would be facing an Overcomer!
And that is what God has designed you to be. Not perfect, not invulnerable, not unaffected by life. But strong, resolute, and successful in your path, able to overcome worry with the peace of Christ.
Just as the Roman soldier’s studded shoes anchored him firmly to the ground as he faced his opponent, peace anchors us firmly to God as we face the troubles and uncertainties that assail us in this fallen world.
Peace Through Christ
The Bible teaches that life apart from Christ has no deep peace.
Everyone is aware of this cosmic discomfort to some degree. As British novelist Julian Barnes quipped, “I don’t believe in God, but I miss Him.”
This emptiness has been evident throughout history, even in ancient times when primitive cultures, sensing alienation from the powers above, lived in fear and cringing, believing that storms, earthquakes, and floods were manifestations of divine disapproval.
Many of us today have a similar acute awareness that our lives are not right. But when we come to Jesus Christ and put our trust in Him, the Bible says this about us:
Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. — Romans 5:1
The peace that Jesus is giving to us here is a peace that was purchased at the price of His own blood.
It is our legacy because of the Cross. He has bequeathed it to all of us. We’re responsible for living in the light of the great provision God has given us in Jesus Christ as our peace. When we do, we know that in Christ there is no condemnation.
If you struggle with anxiety, life can seem like a battle. But God understands the extent of your worry. And because of the Gospel of peace, the one thing you don’t have to fear is losing His love. Even in the darkest nights of the soul, the God of all peace is with you and for you.
I urge you to embrace these words of the apostle Peter:
Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that He may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you. — 1 Peter 5:6–7 NIV