I sat in my favorite chair, hugged my warm cup of coffee and watched as the sun peeked up over the horizon. My favorite time of day. So why was my gut all tied up in knots? I retraced my steps to the previous evening. I made the mistake of turning on the news just prior to bedtime. New feeds jumped from one part of the world to the next, showing footage of outrage, riots, and wars. Too much for the soul to take in all at once, especially when it was time to transition out of work mode and into rest mode.
Anxiety seems to be in the air these days, does it not? Financial, health, family, work, and cultural stresses pile up and before you know it, you feel like you’re under your circumstances instead of tucked under God’s protective shelter.
Did you know that anxiety disorders are the most common of mental health disorders in the nation, affecting approximately 40 million people? And while there are varying reasons for these battles with anxiety, clearly, it’s time to fight back, do what we can, take our stand, and claim the peace of mind and heart that Jesus promised us.
Recently on Middays with Susie Larson, I spoke with board certified neuropsychologist, Dr. Michelle Bengston. We talked about her book, “Breaking Anxiety’s Grip: How to Reclaim the Peace God Promises.” She writes:
“No question, we have a lot to worry about. Children, jobs, homes, health, finances, and more. The solution isn’t to rid ourselves of the sources of anxiety—as if we could. Instead, we need to recognize that anxiety originates from a spiritual influence and we can fight back using the God-given weapons of power, love, and a sound mind.”
Dr. Bengston shared that there are three common contributors to anxiety:
- Brain chemistry
- Life experiences
You may have a predisposition to anxiety, but it doesn’t mean you should accept it! You may have to fight harder than most to maintain freedom and peace of mind, but you can do it. You may have a few life experiences that have triggered significant stress, but you don’t have to stay stuck there. You have access to God’s peace at all times.
So, what are we to do?
We start by letting go and trusting God with the things we cannot control. Then, we tend to the things we can control:
- Our thought life
- Our perspective
- Our prayers
- Our words
Dr. Michelle Bengston writes:
“Peace comes from living in the present and remembering what has already been accomplished in the past to assure us of our future…While we can consider the future, we need not spend too much time there. Instead, we can focus on God’s presence, which is with us in the moment and has already gone before us… We tend to approach life thinking, ‘Show me, then I’ll trust You,’ but God tells us to trust Him and then He’ll show us.”
Here’s an acronym she found helpful:
T- Take God at His Word
R – Rest in His presence
U – Understand the outcome doesn’t depend on us
S – Accept God is sovereign
T – Turn to the testimony of previous experiences
Anxiety is a complicated issue, but God’s Word stands as true today as it’s ever been. Though it feels like we’re at the mercy of anxiety, we’re actually in the mercies of God.
If you battle anxiety, don’t leave it unchecked. Get the help you need. Seek out a counselor, doctor, or mentor. Do the work of retraining your thoughts. Tend to your soul. And trust the God who cares deeply about you.
Those who live in the shelter of the Most High
will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need and thank him for all he has done. 7 Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.
If you or someone you love is struggling with mental health issues like anxiety and depression – don’t wait to seek the help you need. Our programming partner Focus on the Family offers free counseling services and referrals here. If you are struggling with suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.Dealing with anxiety