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Not as the World Gives

Some nights I lay in bed wondering how everything will work out. My thoughts wander from what I could have done differently and what I need to do next in order to prevent my worst fears from happening. Sometimes I let my overthinking take over to the point I can’t fall asleep. This is when I know I let my anxieties of today take control of my tomorrow.

The first time I remember experiencing deep anxiety was my senior year of high school. The pressure of my decisions and desire to make everyone happy weighed heavily on me. I often pushed back this unrelenting feeling and moved forward as best as I could. The rush of adrenaline through my veins and never ending thoughts of “what if’s” continued to take over until I had to do something about it. One day, I got on my knees next to my messy, clothes covered bed and fervently prayed for the first time in months. Sharing my thoughts and fears, I finally began to open up with God on everything I had avoided for months. For a while, things were better, but I eventually trailed off and the anxiety returned.

Entering college and adulthood, different seasons brought different anxieties. What should I major in? Will I get a job? Is this person a right match for me? Regardless of what was creating my anxiety, I realized these anxious thoughts spiraled into how I acted, spoke, and treated people.

As a believer, I frequently questioned my worthiness when I could not let go of these specific anxieties. Over time, the Father continued to whisper into my ear: Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. I do not give as the world gives. Your heart must not be troubled or fearful (John 14:27). And one day, it finally clicked. God is not a God of anxiety. My eternity is not based on my emotions, fears or even realities. It wasn’t until I truly laid everything down at the foot of the cross that I realized my anxiety did not define me.

In the world we live in, I believe more people struggle with anxiety than ever before. Why? I presume social media, increased news presence, and greater knowledge might be factors to our anxious tendencies.

Here’s the good news: There is power and healing in His name. Jesus died for all of us so we could walk in freedom.

Stepping towards the freedom from the bondage of anxiety takes time. There’s no “one and done” trick that immediately heals you from your fears, but daily steps certainly help. We have to continually take our thoughts captive and walk with Jesus along the way. While I am still working through anxiety, I feel more at peace every day, even in the midst of chaos. Here are some practical steps that have helped me work through anxious days and seasons:

  1. Spend intentional time with the Father often. Be honest and vulnerable with Him. Here’s a secret: He already knows everything you’re feeling. Jesus too went through these struggles. Openly sharing helps you know He is trustworthy.

  2. Know and memorize scripture. The Word is living and active, sharper than a double edged sword (Hebrews 4:12). Memorizing what scripture says about anxiety will give us peace and knowledge that our God is fully in control of whatever is troubling us. Place sticky notes of verses on your mirror, door or wherever you frequently look. Make your favorite verse your lock screen to recall Biblical truth. Some of my favorite verses about anxiety are: Philippians 4:6-7, Proverbs 3:5-6, John 14:27, 1 Peter 5:8.

  3. Seek Biblical community. We were not made to walk through life alone. Scripture says to carry one another’s burdens, or in this case let others carry your burdens with you (Galatians 6:2). After spending time with Him, share with trusted friends what you’re experiencing. Community will serve as your accountability, prayer warriors, and encouragers.

  4. Pursue outside help. There are countless books that discuss how to work through anxiety as a believer. Some of my personal favorites are Get Out of Your Head by Jennie Allen and Anxious for Nothing by Max Lucado. Maybe you need to take it a step further and seek counseling, and that’s okay. These books or biblical, professional counseling can help you learn triggers, healthy ways to cope, and how to move forward.

  5. Allow yourself to receive Holy Grace and continue moving forward. We will never be perfect on earth, but don’t beat yourself up when a bout of anxiety hits you like a train. John 16:33 reminds us that we will have troubles, but that Jesus has overcome.

For daily encouragement and connection, follow my journey on Instagram @captivatingcommunity

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