The Anxious Mind

Anxiety. Almost all of us have struggled with it at some point in our lives. Some of us more so than others. I am one who has experienced anxiety in such a way where it brought me down to my knees. I can joke about it now, but understand that I really GET IT. I have been there. Anxiety is really no laughing matter.

Ironically, I think some of the most quoted but most frustrating verses in Scripture dealing with anxiety are Philippians 4:6-7.

Do not be anxious, about anything, but in every situation, 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 minds in Christ Jesus. (NIV)

OK, I love these verses, but they might not be the best to pull out when someone is having a panic attack. At that point, the anxiety train has left the station. And I always wondered how in the world Paul had the audacity to tell me not to worry, as if I was choosing to be anxious. Doesn’t he know I can’t help it?  He doesn’t know how my hands are sweating, my heart is racing, how I want to cry, and how my brain is on a constant loop of worst case scenarios. Or does he? Look at what Paul says in 2 Corinthians 11:28 in the ESV, “And apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches.” Even the apostle Paul struggled with anxiety.

I began to wonder what I was “doing” wrong? I was begging the LORD to give me peace, and yet I still freaked out all the time. I was praying, I was petitioning. I got to the point where I said, “LORD I will even thank you for this crazy girl drama if it means I will get peace. LORD, if I am about to die from a rare fictitious infection stemming from a slight throbbing on my ear lobe, I will thank you I had the ear in the first place.” (Y’all don’t act like I am the only hypochondriac around here!!)  LORD, please just give me some peace!

In all seriousness, if I am in Christ why am I still walking around worried and anxious all the time? Does it mean I don’t trust Him? What am I missing?

First… I finally realized that I can’t do it in my own strength. We need his Holy Spirit to give us that peace. The more I tried to manufacture it, the more I failed. Before you roll your eyes saying that’s not practical, wait for it. And remember that if you are in Christ, you HAVE his Spirit in you!

Second… this is where the grit and grind comes in. It takes some effort to fight anxiety, especially in the beginning. Practically, I have tried almost everything, and there is only one thing that truly combats my anxiety instead of just masking it . Can you guess what it is? God’s Word. 😊 For me, it isn’t just reading it but memorizing it and putting it up where I can see it. I know some of us may have heard that a hundred times, but it works. And even if it doesn’t seem to help at first IT WILL, because through His Spirit and His Word, God comforts us and gives us peace.

Paul says something in 2 Corinthians 10:4-5 that is so applicable for the battle against anxiety.

The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

Look at the power we have as believers. We CAN take those anxious thoughts captive, and make them obedient, submissive to Christ. We are not slaves to our thoughts! ! If you struggle with anxiety, the enemy knows he’s got you there. He looks for our areas of weakness and goes in for the kill. And unfortunately, he will keep attacking until we wise up. We must fight him back, and our weapon is God’s Word. If you came to my home during the height of my anxiety, you would think I was cuckoo. Some of you probably still do, and I’m OK with that. 😊I had Scripture written on index cards everywhere. Even my sweet toddler started scribbling her “Bible verses” on notepads! It looked like a Bible bomb had exploded on all my mirrors. But I promise that it saved my mind. And God’s Word is still the source of my peace today.

Exercise, therapy, medication, acupuncture, all those things and more can be so helpful, but if they are not coupled with the Word of God, we are dead in the water. I speak from experience on this one. His Word makes all the difference.


Grit and Grind

Well, it’s officially fall! How is that possible? I realized by the huge stacks of paper that we are well into the school year. My kids are no longer looking sparkly and fresh each day. Gone are the fresh eggs and pancakes each morning. (Who am I kidding? That never happened!) We are in the GRIND! The newness has officially worn off, and I am already #overit. Can anybody relate??

I have been reminded recently that our Christian walk is not much different. Whether we realize it or not, we are in a daily grind spiritually. Although we go through seasons of newness, peaks and valleys, and mountain tops, more often than not, we are in this constant grind. For most of us, this is where we will spend the majority of our lives, and it can be the hardest. I am not talking about having a routine, boring relationship with the LORD. That should never be the case! I am talking about the day in, day out of our time on earth, where life happens. It’s here where we may be in the waiting season, where we are not hyped up on feelings, where we just have to DO the thing, sometimes in the face of adversity. It’s here where we exercise those spiritual muscles, practice the spiritual disciplines over and over, even though we don’t “feel” like it’s going to serve a purpose. It’s in this daily grind where we obey Him, even if we don’t know why. (Think Noah building the ark! Can you imagine what those days were like?)

I had the privilege of attending a Beth Moore workshop several months ago. She brought up the word GRIT and said, “for whatever use your talents are, effort counts twice.” And I can’t help but think that principle can spill over into our daily walks with the LORD. Yes, we don’t have to do anything for His love, but, wow, in our day to day lives, it can be so easy to drift away. A relationship requires effort, especially when we have an enemy who is out to knock us down. We may not be called to ministry, but we are ALL called to walk with the LORD and serve in our own sphere of influence, whether that is as a mom, wife, sister, or friend. And that takes grit living in the world we do. It takes determination to set aside time with Him in the midst of the busyness. It takes discipline to develop a prayer life and to KEEP IT. It takes effort to find a community of other believers and put yourself out there. It takes intentionality to hit the reset button periodically and reevaluate our priorities before Him. And it takes humility to remember that we can’t do any of this without Him. The list could go on and on. I would say that takes grit no matter who you are!!

And be encouraged that although it might seem like today doesn’t matter that much, it may matter a whole lot more than we think. Because He is preparing us for something tomorrow in today’s daily grind. We just can’t see it yet.

Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:13-14, ESV)

Let’s go into this week ready to Grit and Grind for Jesus!! 🙂