Anxiety. A word that’s come up a lot in my years. A word that I know I’m not defined by, but would be lying if I said it hasn’t affected my life.
When I was in the third grade, my teacher told me very gently that I was a worry wart. I laugh writing this now, but she was right. Little things became big things in my mind. Little concerns that most people could brush off consumed my thoughts and sent me into a bit of a tailspin.
Biblically, ‘anxiety’ literally means to be drawn in different directions, or dividing or fracturing a person’s being into parts. If you ask me, that’s a lot like how anxiety feels.
Biblically, ‘anxiety’ literally means to be drawn in different directions, or dividing or fracturing a person’s being into parts…that’s a lot like how anxiety feels.
That tight, twisting feeling in my chest.
The hoards of “What if…?” questions that send my mind down a rabbit trail.
The fear that seems to grip me and keep me from walking forward in my decisions.
I’m not my full self when I’m anxious. I’m pulled apart and disheveled and constricted.
There was a long time where I felt like a victim to anxiety, and honestly there’s days where I still do. When anxious thoughts made their home in my brain, people would quote Philippians 4:6 to me, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” I would immediately discount it because I felt like I couldn’t control my anxiety. I felt like I wasn’t trying to fall into anxiety and that I would love to “not be anxious” if I could.
I think it’s time to stop claiming anxiety over our lives and to figure out where Jesus is in all of this. Because here’s the deal, the Gospel is freedom and Jesus is Peace, and an anxious heart doesn’t flow out of either of those things.
Because here’s the deal, the Gospel is freedom and Jesus is Peace, and an anxious heart doesn’t flow out of either of those things.
Anxiety is control. Maybe we don’t even realize we do it. But anxiety is us reaching and grappling for control over situations that we simply can’t know the outcome of. Anxiety is us trying to play God. Whether I know I’m doing it or not, when I’m anxious, I’m trying to toss the questions I have around in my head enough until I can reach an answer. An answer that will have no possibility of my failing. An answer that will prevent me or anyone else from getting hurt.
Anxiety is carrying weight that was never meant to be carried. It’s sitting in the prison cell with the weight of our chains even though the door is wide open and we have already been set free. Galatians 5:1 says, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” We are called to a life of freedom. We are called to run free, untethered by anxiety.
Anxiety is…sitting in the prison cell with the weight of our chains even though the door is wide open and we have already been set free.
Hear me when I say that I realize these words are a lot easier to type than to apply. I understand that anxiety disorders are real and among us, but I also believe in the power of prayer and good biblical counseling. And, I believe in the power of Jesus and the Gospel in every messy nook and cranny of our lives.
So this is my plea for us to keep hoping, to keep praying for healing, to push through to see the truth in the midst of anxiety. It’s also my plea for us to remember that we’re not alone. Anxiety is isolating, but I can guarantee that you are not struggling alone. We were made for freedom and maybe freedom is found in letting our community into our struggle. And finally, this is my plea that we trust Jesus. That we trust the He is enough for us and that He is always fighting for us. And that we cling to Him more than anything else when anxiety strikes. I think maybe we will find healing there.