A Note on Anxiety
Published in The Courageous Cure by Dr. Alana Berg
For years I thought that moments of anxiety were evidence of my ungodliness; areas of my life un-submitted or unconverted to Christ. Each moment of a sped up heart, a sweaty palm, or a racing train of thought was accelerated by the fear that its presence meant a great darkness in me.
Faith. I must feel faith, I tell myself. Faith, faith, faith, faith, FAITH.
Then I’d fail, fail, fail, fail.
In Philippians, Paul says “be anxious for nothing”. Initially, I read this as a reprimanding command against anxiety. A finger waving in front of my nose, telling me that I have not trusted God in the way I should have, But in a moment of divine grace and revelation, God revealed to me that his words are actually ones of comfort. Instead of reprimanding readers for feeling moments of anxiety, he is meeting them in the midst of their struggle but telling them that they need not stay in a place of anxiety; he made the way out. His perfect love expels all fear. His strength works best in our weakness.
But still. Those monsters poke their heads out from under the bed. As much as you know that God brings peace, sometimes it seems hard to shake the gripping moments of anxiety, let alone the existence of anxious moments. When your mind is consumed by anxious thoughts, it seems antithetical and inauthentic to all of a sudden start telling yourself positive/faith-filled things. We’re like hamsters committed to running our wheels to the end of their course, neglecting to step back and realize that the wheel never ends. How do we learn to walk in the things of God when it all seems theoretical, but we need practical? Or we at least need an excuse to cover our heads with the duvet and try again tomorrow.
Even though we invite Christ to dwell inside of us, to consume us, to make His words our words and His hands, our hands… we will never fully become Christ because we are us. We are the human conduits of the spirit of God. We are human beings in which the spirit of God dwells. But we’re still human beings. And our relationship with God is still a relationship. It’s part him and part us. Part of our Christian journey is learning to be transformed by the God in us and then allowing that God in us to seep out of us and transform the world around us.
The act of salvation is the process of being reborn into a new creation and then handed some glorious new threads. Though the slate is clean, the eyes are unveiled, and the mind is renewed, we have to continue to own our new digs. There will always be taunting voices and seductive lies that want to redefine who we are; people and situations that want to tell us that the worst is about to happen and we are not brave enough to handle it. And sometimes we’ll want to invite those voices in and ask them to have tea with us. This is why God reminds us that we have been given a “spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control” (2 Timothy 1:7). It’s like he’s telling us he understands how we feel, but is reaffirming that fear is not from him.
In fact, the Bible tells us that when we decide to journey with Christ, He enters our lives and begins to dwell within us. Ephesians tells us we can be filled with the spirit. Proverbs says that out of the overflow of our hearts, comes the words of our mouths.
Despite the circumstances that surround us, the Bible indicates that we are a mine of supernatural power. We need not go any further than our own spirits to stir up words of faith and encouragement in order to expel the surrounding atmosphere of anxiety.
I’ve realized that the important thing is not getting it right every time. The important thing is journeying closer to the equator of God within my spirit. To not fight my internal battles with topical ointments, but to allow the spirit of God to bubble up inside of me and transform my position against the world around me. I know God’s not thinking less of me because of anxious moments, but I also know that he loves me enough to have already offered to carry the weights that are too big for me to carry.
God’s not upset with me for feeling anxious and he’s not upset with you either. But do yourself a favour and don’t surrender to your anxiety; surrender to the one who can bring peace, despite your circumstances. Or at least try again tomorrow.