Looking around the social media world, it seems like “anxiety” has almost become something we brag about. Or joke about. We laugh about all the things that give us anxiety throughout the day. We try to one-up each other on who has it the worst. It seems trendy to admit to having anxiety these days.
But the Lord says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7.
As Christians, we are called to rid ourselves of anxiety by trusting that God will take care of us in all situations.
This is much easier said than done, especially for those of us who truly experience anxiety almost daily.
I’m not sure when anxiety entered my world. Has it always been there? Did it appear during my adult years? I don’t remember being especially anxious as a kid, though I’ve always been nervous in unfamiliar social settings.
Sometime in my late twenties or early thirties, the anxiety really started showing up. If I was about to enter a new social situation, especially if I was going alone, my stomach would literally feel sick for about 24 hours before the event. I’d even feel butterflies in my stomach before making phone calls to people I didn’t know. I’m so grateful for the invention of texting and emails! No face-to-face, (or voice-to-voice), interaction needed anymore. I’ve begun to realize though, that this seems to be making the anxiety worse. Ten years ago, I was forced to put myself into anxiety-inducing situations, thus lessening the stress each time. Now they’re so few and far between that the anxiety is almost overwhelming when it occurs.
At least that was the case until I read Philippians 4:6-7 and God convicted me on the way I was letting anxiety control my life. I was not being an obedient Christian. When I began to feel overwhelmed by my anxiety, I’d start to panic, or find a way to get out of whatever situation was inducing it. I even tried to use essential oils to calm myself, which did help to a certain extent, but I realized it was like a band-aid, not a true fix.
The answer to lessening the problems caused by anxiety in my daily life? Prayer.
I began to go to God each time I felt that anxiety bubbling up. I tell Him what is causing this anxiety, I list out all my fears about the situation and then I say, “I give it all to you, Lord.” It sounds simple, but His command is simple: In every situation, present your requests to God.
Sometimes, after this process, I can almost literally feel a weight lifted off my shoulders, like I can breathe a little easier and walk a little taller. The burden is lifted. Sometimes that feeling lasts and I’m able to head into an unfamiliar situation without a stomach in knots. Sometimes that feeling is fleeting, and the anxiety returns after a few moments. I think in those instances, God wants me to trust Him despite the fact that I feel like running in the other direction. After all, He never promised to give us an easy life. But He did promise to use all things for good. (Romans 8:28).
I’ve also learned over the last 6 years of having babies, that anxiety can manifest in anger, especially when caused by post-partum hormonal fluctuations. I know this was the case for me. I have a lot of guilt over my outbursts of anger towards my family over the last few years. But now that I know it’s most likely caused by anxiety, I’m learning to pause in a moment of mommy-rage and pray for God to take it away. It doesn’t always work. I certainly still have plenty of angry moments with my kids. But it helps to know where it’s coming from, and it helps to know the Lord is in my corner, ready to give me peace that surpasses all understanding, if only I remember to pray in every situation.
*If you have the kind of anxiety that requires medication, I am definitely not suggesting you stop taking medication and rely solely on prayer. I believe God gave us doctors and meds too, for those of us who need it. This advice may be more practical for someone who struggles with anxiety but doesn’t find it completely crippling her life. *
**I mentioned using essential oils to help with my anxiety. I use Young Living because I’ve researched several brands and I feel the most comfortable with the way Young Living oils are made. I don’t sell them, so this is not an advertisement. Here are some of the oils that help me: