Last week, one of our Pastors preached on anxiety during the holiday season and I learned a few things. As you know, many of us struggle with anxiety. In fact, it is the number one disorder affecting 40 million adults in the United States (or so they say…ever wonder how they come up with that?). We also know that in young people, with the addition of a ton of screen-time, more social isolation, trauma within families, etc., now have a much higher rate of anxiety in their lives than ever before.
I John 4:18 says: “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.”
This verse is not new to me and likely not new to you, if you have struggled with anxiety. What have I learned from it over the years? I learned that fear is NOT from God, it is from Satan. This helps me to pray it away and claim Jesus’ name when I am feeling it. In addition, I learned that fear and love cannot coincide. I’m still working on that one.
Here’s some of what he said that made me muse:
- “Fear has to do with punishment”. I’ve not delved into that phrase very much. The Pastor brought it up as related to a past event. In other words, at some point, we experienced punishment because there was a consequence associated with a happening, event, attitude or action. I appreciate this viewpoint and I believe it is part of being trauma-informed and understanding that trauma re-wires the brain and affects our future actions until we receive healing and can work on rewiring the connections to have more healthy responses.
- In his own life, he has learned to ride the anxiety out, instead of frantically trying to find a way to deal with it. As it comes, he reflects instead of being fearful, as anxiety always has an ending point. In addition, because “perfect love casts out fear”, he is able to ask himself, “who or what is more important to me at this moment than the love of God?” I guess this goes back to the part of the verse that says fear and love cannot coexist. You know, the part I’m working on.
I realize that speaking point two points right back at me. I’m okay with that. I know that God says worry is wrong. In Matthew 6:25, Jesus said, “For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life..”. However, we have to pay mind to the outside influences. Some of us have trauma in our past or our present. Many people struggle with grief, especially around the holidays. There are legitimate reasons why people struggle with anxiety.
Billy Graham says: “If we trust in our worry more than we trust God we are sinning by our lack of faith in God, who has given us the richness of His constant abiding presence, for those who put their faith in Him. Counter your worry by thinking about the things you do not worry about.”
By allowing anxiety, am I trusting my worry more than God?
I am making myself some anxiety rules. Won’t you join me?
- I accept that I have some anxiety/stress in my life.
- I acknowledge that God doesn’t want me to be anxious, afraid or stressed.
- I continue to work on healing in my life and because self-care has been wayward as of late, I will get back to making myself a priority.
- When anxious, I will remind myself it does not last forever. I will remind myself of God’s presence and his intense love for me. I will remind myself that EVERYTHING is in His hands and that I choose to trust Him. I will say this aloud if needed to redirect my brain.
- I will go to Him in prayer. I have a feeling He might be waiting for me to do so more when I am anxious than at any other time.
- I will look for a way to serve someone else in that moment. This could be writing an email of encouragement to someone, sending a card or picture, calling someone who needs me, making a meal for my family, walking my dog, etc. Anxiety is self-absorbing, even though we do not mean it to be. Serving another (even the dog) takes my focus off of me.