I’m writing this for the only person whom I refer to as my BFF. Cheesy I know, but it’s how we’ve signed our Hallmark cards for years. As I thought of ways to encourage her while she deals with deep-seeded anxiety, it dawned on me that many other women could use these same words. As I watch this woman, whom I love dearly, walk through this struggle my heart is equally heavy for you, yes you. Across the screen wondering what I could possibly have to say to help your anxieties. I sincerely wish I could sit across a table from you and lift your spirits. So I decided to share these words. In fact, you will receive them with her – at the same time – because you are equally important to our Savior as my dear friend.
Anxiety is impossible to understand, especially when you’re in the thick of it. After several conversations with a leading American Neurophysiologist, I am convinced that it is truly only for the Lord to know exactly what is going on inside of us, the secrets of the heart (Ps 44:21). In our society we look at a problem and feel the need to understand it before we develop a step-by-step solution.
I have often spouted advice, even scripture, in your face as if it’s as easy as fixing cereal in the morning. And then I experienced anxiety myself. All of a sudden my two-word sermon, “fear not” made me want to slap myself in the face. Forgive me, and other ignorant orators for our heartless advise. This time, I don’t pretend it’s simple. I know that one doesn’t just stop being afraid. But with empathy and understanding this time, I still want you to remember this: God commands His people to “fear not” more than any command in the Bible. In fact, repeats is roughly five times more than “love one another” and “love the Lord” put together.
It is clear that He doesn’t want you to be afraid. Nice, how on earth do I do that? Here’s what I picture working out best:
First off, I think it will be a battle. Friend, please don’t treat anxiety as something you need to find a way to “get over”: as if it’s a hurdle you just haven’t been able to leap yet. If the enemy knows you’re weak, he is definitely not going to let one (or even several) sincere “bounds” discourage him. He comes to seek, kill and destroy and toying with your fears is a surefire way to break down our faith if we are unprepared.
Which leads me to my second point. I love you, and so I want to help you see this. There are patterns in your life leading up to your worst anxiety. What? Who? Where? What are the common factors amongst the most difficult times in your life? If you don’t (and even if you do) see some, you should probably ask someone close to you what they think. Maybe they’ll even help you sort through the root cause. Why those particular things? Past experiences? Bitternes/unforgiveness? Unrepentant for sins in your own life? I don’t know! But try your best to prepare yourself next time. This might mean self-examination or having tough conversations with others and should definitely include burying yourself in scripture and prayer. Ask for others to pray, there’s no such thing as to much prayer!
Move on. Don’t get red in the face yet; let me explain. One time Nic taught on sin. He sat a snazzy red button (pop bottle on a small tile, but it looked cool anyways). He told everyone about the button, all about the button, and repeatedly mentioned how it would be detrimental to push the red button. Of course it didn’t take long before someone HAD to push it. Sometimes we focus SO HARD on not doing something, that we can’t help but fall into it again. So yes, do that study on trust. But then, please do one on joy. Or John. Or Judges! -Anything but worry/fear/lack of faith.
This last thing is something I feel very strongly about. When you choose to believe in the God of the Bible, you must believe all of Him. His every attribute it Truth, the only Truth! Jesus said this to believers while He walked amongst them, “which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?”
Sister in Christ, bad thing do happen. All around us. You and I both know what loss feels like, what empty arms feel like. I don’t know your whole past. I don’t know why you fear pain, loss etc so much. But then quite possibly, neither do you. Please try and carve the words of the God who knit you together on your heart. What does worrying accomplish? Absolutely nothing…good.
Finally, I think we need to find something else for your mind to do. Telling you not to worry is like telling a child not to touch anything. How about we give you something constructive to do with those ever-turning gears? I find something Solomon said on the subject quite fascinating. I know Ecclesiastes could be depressing, unless you understand what the teacher is trying to say.
Ecclesiastes 8:16-17 When I applied my heart to know wisdom, and to see the business that is done on earth, how neither day nor night do one’s eyes see sleep, then I saw all the work of God, that man cannot find out the work that is done under the sun. However much man may toil in seeking, he will not find it out. Even though a wise man claims to know, he cannot find it out.
We cannot understand what is going on around us and in our lives. But we serve a God who does. I mentioned earlier how we always want to understand the problems around (an in) us in the process of solving them Without realizing it, our pride let’s us believe that, “if we can just figure it out for ourselves” it will all make sense. But it’s not supposed to. God rules. God wins. God cares for us. The only thing we figure out is how to function on minute amounts of sleep (as I write this at 2am). I think Solomon understood something we don’t when he said not to do that :)
I love you my friend, near and far. I pray sincerely that you will overcome, one battle at a time. I have one last thought and one last scripture, for this is the only thing I can imagine leaving you with. Remember that first and foremost is grace. HIS grace. Those around you will need grace, grace that He will have to provide you with. You will need grace from those around us, they’ll have to see Him for that too. Grace, His perfect grace, is the foundation for love, for forgiveness and for trust. All these, imperfect: except that His grace covers all in faith. If you look at your life, time and time again it will always feel like it can come crumbling down. Through His grace, He wants to see you have grace, whether or not situations/people make it easy. Maybe we get anxious because we’re not going to the Source in ways which would prepare us for, well, anything? If you look at His life, His grace, you will only see a solid rock that will withstand e-ver-y-thing that could even possibly happen.
I pray for Love, Grace and especially…Peace,
Unless the Lord builds the house,
those who build it labor in vain.
Unless the Lord watches over the city,
the watchman stays awake in vain.
2 It is in vain that you rise up early
and go late to rest,
eating the bread of anxious toil;
for he gives to his beloved sleep. -Psalm 127:1,2