In conversations these past few days anxiety has been a common theme. It seems to be something that touches everyone’s life in one way or another. Out of no where at times I am overcome by anxiety. I apply what I know to be true and push through. I want to share today a devotion I recently re-read on battling Anxiety. I will paste it here but the title will be the link to take you to the actual site.
Hope it blesses you like it blessed me.
Written on November 21, 2011 by Jennifer A. Slattery
Why is it our spouses, friends, or family members seem to roll with the punches unscathed, while we worry about every what-if? And when we try to talk about it, others smile and quote Matthew 6 where Jesus commands us not to worry. We nod, and thank them, admitting how logical they are then walk away as if all is well. Only it’s not, because our stomachs still knot and our brains continue to spiral on over-drive. If only we had more faith….
For the four million Americans struggling with anxiety, the command not to worry seems unattainable. If they’re Christian, likely they know the verses from Matthew. They may even have them written on 3-X-5 cards tucked into their back pockets, taped to their bathroom mirrors, and every other imaginable surface throughout their homes. They know intellectually that God’s in control. But somehow their head-knowledge fails to reach their hearts and they begin to wonder if perhaps something’s wrong with them. Christ died to set them free, and yet, their anxieties continue to hold them in bondage.
So what’s the problem?
Perhaps they stopped too soon, in Matthew, when they needed to continue reading. The Bible’s often equated to a road map; and like a map, it guides us along a journey of faith. Although God’s promise of freedom applies to each and every believer in Christ, I believe the actual grabbing hold of that freedom is a process. As we allow God’s Word to transform our thinking, He begins to unveil and clean out our hearts, removing those things that keep us in bondage.
According to Romans 12:2, this transformation process begins in the mind.
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (NIV)
Anxiety and fear is contrary to the truth of God, because perfect love casts out fear (1 John 4:18). Therefore, if we struggle with anxiety, we need to zero in on the deception—the thought that’s making us fearful—and we need to replace it with truth, found in God’s word.
Psychologists have a fancy term for this called “cognitive behavior therapy,” which is really a fancy way of saying, “Take your thoughts captive and make them obedient to Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5). It’s about stopping your anxious thoughts in their tracks and redirecting them.
Let’s take a look at how this might play out in real life.
A thought flashes through your mind, one that triggers worry. Perhaps you think about a bill you need to pay, or your teenager getting their license or leaving for a mission trip. This initial thought turns into a named fear—a what-if, and if you’re not careful, your fearful thoughts will balloon until even irrational fears begin to seem eminent. So how can you stop this angst-filled cycle?
The first step is to recognize your patterns. Sometimes you may appear to grow anxious for no reason, but most likely, a thought preceded the emotion. It might have been a fleeting thought, maybe even one that remained in your subconscious, but it was there. And in that flash second, your physiological responses took over. Your goal, then, is to analyze the events leading up to the anxiety so that you can begin to recognize a pattern. You may even want to keep a daily log of anxious moments and the events preceding them.
Then, once you zero in on the anxiety-producing thought, analyze it in light of truth. True, your daughter is easily distracted, but she passed her driving test with flying colors and she promised to observe the speed limit.
Next, replace the what-ifs with truth, found in Scripture. These will vary based on the situation, but the more you speak and meditate on God’s Word, the weaker those anxious thoughts will become.
As you work to replace lies with truth, ask for God’s help, not only for the situation, but also in regard to your emotions. Ask Him to take away your anxiety, replacing it with peace (Ephesians 4:6-7).
Finally, do something different. Our first reaction is to dwell on the initial thought. Once you’ve analyzed your thoughts and found a truth to replace your fear, it might be best to find an aversion. Go for a walk or find something to clean. Physical activity can be very helpful at alleviating the physiological responses to anxiety, but anything that redirects your thoughts will work.
Be diligent and determined. Over time, it will become easier to follow these steps and you’ll begin to experience the “peace that surpasses understanding” promised in Philippians 4:7.