Be anxious for nothing
It is often easier said than done...
How can we stop being anxious? We have the promise of God that profound peace will be ours. But how do we "Let go, and let God"?
To trust our concerns to God, to allow him lift our burdens, CAN be accomplished, but not if we are clinging to our worries. It might seem a simple thing to some, but surrendering our problems to God can be, shall we say, problematic? for others. Somehow we are afraid to let them go! We worry about giving up our worries, and we let that get in the way of our relationship with God, and sometimes shut out family and friends as well.
Why is it so hard to give our worries away?
Often it is a sense of lack of control. Even if we are not doing such a good job ourselves, we can't seem to trust anyone else to help us, let alone God. Keeping the problem at the front of our minds is one way we feel we can figure it out for ourselves. We think we can handle it.... eventually. We want to take responsibility, and we want to be prepared for the unexpected. But that isn't always possible, or healthy.
LET'S TAKE A DEAP BREATH and look at some ways we can move our worries from ourselves, and allow God (and others) to help us.
Learn to recognise the signs of your anxiety, figure out what is holding you back, and what you might need to overcome. Ask God to help you to do that. Ask someone else who knows you well what they think is holding you back, or if they can recognise what triggers your anxiety.
Try to think in a reasoned way, calmly and step by step - often our fears are emotionally rooted, but have no basis in fact. Recognising that we are worrying about something that is unlikely, something that's not going to happen for years, or something we haven't got the facts right on, can help us put this anxiety to rest. Try to sort out fact from fear, and cause from effect. Some people find writing things down helps to separate the facts from the fear. Some things will be able to be changed, but some things may be outside of your control. Focus on the things that can be changed or managed.
Share your feelings and worries - with someone else and, most importantly, with God. Sometimes all it takes is to put it into words for the problem to become more distinct in our minds, and for it to become less of a problem. Often saying it out loud will help us see it isn't the big problem we thought it was, but something that is manageable or something we can get help with. Perhaps find a creative outlet to express your feelings, so some of the pent-up anxiety is externalised.
Find other people with the same problem or anxiety, and see what they are doing to overcome it. You might gain some insight and support, and maybe even work on things together. Talk to an expert in that field or to a counsellor. Break down the wall that is keeping you isolated. Also consider whether there might be a medical cause or whether you should see a professional therapist if you have extreme anxiety.
Take some time away from your own problems and help others. Helping others can give much needed perspective, and also will give you a feeling of accomplishment. Focusing on someone else can give your mind a rest from its worries and a sense of purpose. Changing from inward focus to outward focus occupies your mind in a different way, and provides a much needed distraction from your own concerns.
Resolve to take some action. Here again, you might need to pray for courage to take that next step, and even have someone support you as you take some steps in working on your problem. Take action to fix the underlying problem that is causing you to be anxious. Put into place strategies and plans to deal with certain problems and for general worries employ relaxation techniques, diet changes, exercise and fresh air. If you can become motivated to take action, the very act of doing will help you feel better about your situation, even if it is baby steps. You will be taking proactive steps instead of waiting anxiously for things to happen to you.
Lastly, focus on a positive outcome. Remember the promise of God, the knowledge that you have his help to beat your fears. Take encouragement in small successes leading to bigger ones. Have a grateful mindset, and think of things to be thankful for. Express your thanks to God for as many things as you can think of. Thank God for the people in your life that care about you.
REMEMBER GOD often works through the hands of others, so don't feel guilty about asking for, or accepting, help. It isn't a sign of weakness. It takes a lot of courage to let things go, and acknowledge we can't do it all on our own.
Let's look at these seven points again in summary:
In Philippians 4:6-7 it says:- "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."
THE MESSAGE puts these verses this way:
"Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life."
We pray that Christ will displace your worry.
Please note: these pointers should not take the place of medical or professional advice. If you are having physical anxiety symptoms please consult your doctor who can check if there is a physical condition that might be causing your anxiety and treat any medical condition you might have. If your normal daily life is being disrupted significantly by your anxiety, consider seeing a professional therapist who may recommend a course of treatment.
(Feature image from christianphotoshops.com) Bible quote from The Message (MSG) Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson