The other morning while driving, I happened to turn in to a radio talk show about anxiety. The woman being interviewed defined anxiety as “trying to please 2 opposing forces.” ‘Wow!’ I thought to myself, “what a perfect definition.”. As I quickly rehearsed a mental run through of all the areas of my life where I experience anxiety, I realized that her definition was spot on.
In all these examples in my life, it’s always 2 opposing forces, beliefs or attitudes that cause me to experience anxiety. It’s happens when:
- I know that comfort and rest is found in Christ, but I continually run after thing in my own strength
- I know that my heavenly father has provided me with unconditional love and support, yet I often seek after approval and acceptance from man
- I know my there is healing and rest in my saviour, yet I stuff my painful feelings with food and other vices
- I know that my body houses the living God, yet I abuse it and treat it like it’s a valuable commodity
- I know that I’m created in the image of God, yet I continually compare myself to others and always come up short
- I reject God’s gift of perfect peace, and take on a frantic and frazzled mind filled with thoughts lack and insecurity
- I know that I am strengthened in times of testing, but I choose the safety of comfort and settle for mediocrity
It’s the fearful and frantic thoughts in my mind, the stuffing of my feelings with food, the neglect of my body, the mediocrity and the pursuit of worldly acceptance and possessions, that keeps me feeling anxious day in and day out. All of these negative forces compete with God’s attention and affection for me.
The bible teaches us this very principle in Luke 16:13. It says, “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” I think the word money can be interchanged with anything that competes for our attention, our time and our heart.
In Matthew 6:24 Jesus teaches us; “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” and explains further explains ( v. 24-34) that treasure is anything that has us worry more about our earthly life instead of seeking a kingdom focused life.
The choice seems like a no-brainer yet unfortunately we often choose the anxiety producing thoughts, behaviours and actions over God’s promises of rest and peace. We often choose the fleshly desires instead of our kingdom destiny. Why would we ever choose the hard road over the easy road?
Because at the time, the immediate SEEMS more appealing, and most often the draw for temporal, instant gratification FEELS more satisfying. If I feel anxiety, the easier answer seems to be, eat and quickly make the pain go away, instead of taking the time to pray; waiting for an answer and often not liking the answer because it will require effort and sacrifice on our part. Yet we know from past experience that the temporary feeling quickly fades and we continually we need ‘another hit’ of our drug of choice (food, sex, shopping, video games) to make us feel good.
But what if you could take that anxiety and use it to your advantage instead of allowing it to cause a downward spiral? What if anxiety were actually your sign from God that you are coming out of alignment with His perfect will for you and are about to move into a danger zone.
Would you heed anxiety’s warning? Would you adjust your course of action and tune in to the voice of the Holy Spirits prompting? If you are open to do this, there is a glorious blessing waiting for you on the other side of your anxiety.
I want to suggest this simple 3-step process to you the next time you feel anxiety.
- Acknowledge the anxiety instead of trying to stuff it with food or something else and ‘be’ with it for a minute — meaning, don’t run from it, rationalize it or freak out. Our first instinct, especially as women is to cry or release our frustration in some unhealthy way. This makes us temporarily feel better but it keeps us on the frustrating hamster wheel without ever addressing the real issues.
- ASK the Holy Spirit to show you what lie you’re believing that is causing your anxiety. If you want to eat then the lie may be that food will make you feel better. If you’re anxious about financial matters then the lie could be centered around God’s inability to provide for you or your own self-worth. If you’re anxious about a situation or another person then the lie could be focused around some unrealistic expectations you may have.
- Answer the lie with truth. Declare God’s word over your anxiety. Remember that God is using your anxiety as a sign to bring you back into alignment with Him. This will be accomplished by applying the word of God. Use scripture such as:
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Phil 4:6
“…in all these things we are more than conquerors” Romans 8:37
“…Come unto me, all you that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Matt. 11:28
“No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” 1 Cor 10:13
Let’s not let our anxiety get the better of us. So many of us Christians are walking around depressed, defeated or using food or some other type of drug to cope because we believe the lies that the enemy whispers in our ears and sadly we believe them.
The next time you feel anxiety, acknowledge it, allow the Holy Spirit to give you revelation about it’s source and answer the lie with word of God. Let’s God’s only God’s word be the source of our strength. It’s the only force strong enough to combat our anxiety.