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Give Your Anxiety Space To Speak - Encouragement for Today - April 24, 2024

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Taylor Joy MurrayApril 24, 2024

Give Your Anxiety Space To Speak
TAYLOR JOY MURRAY 

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“Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why have you become restless and disturbed within me? Hope in God and wait expectantly for Him, for I shall again praise Him For the help of His presence.” Psalm 42:5 (AMP) 

For years, I’ve tried to outrun my anxiety. Outsmart it. Rationalize myself out of it. I’ve fought it like an interior World War.

It’s left me battle worn, pummeled with an onslaught of stuffed-down and unexpressed emotions. It’s made me feel spiritually inadequate, not enough on the soul level.

Typically I’d be midway through an anxiety attack when I’d reach for my Bible, holding its pages in a white-knuckled grip. I’d read Psalm 42:5 and rush to the verse’s end, commanding myself to hope, wait, praise and give thanks: “Hope in God and wait expectantly for Him, for I shall again praise Him For the help of His presence.” I prayed all those spiritual-sounding verbs might squeeze out my anxiety.

The story I’ve carried in my mind and body, however, has been very different from the triumphant testimony I expect and esteem in the Bible. Sometimes I’ve felt ashamed of my struggle, wanting to lock it out of my life.

But as I’ve fought, I’ve also realized there’s a tenderness underneath my commandeering, like a crying child hiding behind armor.

Can I tell you something I’ve discovered? There’s a difference between sacred, intentional turning toward God and just using Christian words to bypass our pain.

Anxiety is often a blinking light on the dashboard of our hearts, indicating that something deeper is going on inside of us. The longer we suppress our anxiety, the louder it screams. The louder we shout at it to go away, the louder it has to shout over us.

Recently, I’ve realized that in my rush to get to the end of Psalm 42:5, I never allowed myself space to answer these first questions: “Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why have you become restless and disturbed within me?”

Could we find a way toward stillness by giving our anxiety space to speak? Perhaps the anxiety that wells up inside doesn’t need to be locked away but instead listened to.

Here’s a simple rhythm for anxious moments:

  • Pause and notice. Try to identify your anxiety or whatever emotions you’re experiencing, noticing how and where you feel them in your body.
  • Attune and shift. Physically slow down and be still if possible. Extend compassion toward yourself.
  • Ask and reflect. Ask your anxiety, What are you trying to tell me?
  • Breathe and be. Simply be with God in the emotion without trying to fix it.

Pausing only takes a few minutes. But as I’ve practiced engaging with God and myself in a less hurried, more honest way, I’ve noticed something beautiful:

My anxiety doesn’t have to scream so much to get my attention.

Dear God, I don’t want anxiety or unaddressed emotions to consume me. Would You help me compassionately listen to my anxiety today? Show me how to be with You in it and how to receive the comfort You offer me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

OUR FAVORITE THINGS

As Christians, how can we approach challenging situations and conversations in a God-honoring way? How do we balance grace and truth when someone in our community disagrees with us … or believes something different than us? Lysa TerKeurst, counselor Jim Cress and Dr. Joel Muddamalle are covering all these questions and more in their most recent conversation, “How To Handle Politics and Family.” Start watching on YouTube here!

Taylor Joy Murray’s book Stop Saying I’m Fine: Finding Stillness When Anxiety Screams blends therapeutic insight with spiritual truth to help you dig beneath the surface of your anxiety. If you want to better understand where your anxiety comes from and why, and if you long to learn a different, more compassionate approach to engaging with your anxiety, this book is for you.

ENGAGE

Connect with Taylor on Instagram. To learn more about Taylor and her books, podcast and other resources, check out her website.

For a free guide to help you reflect on anxious moments in four simple steps, download the “Processing Anxious Moments Guide” Taylor created just for you.

FOR DEEPER STUDY

Psalm 131:2, “But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me” (ESV).

What strategies have you used to attempt to silence your anxiety? What makes listening to your anxiety scary?

Which parts of Taylor’s story resonate with you?

We’d love to hear from you! Share your thoughts in the comments.

© 2024 by Taylor Joy Murray. All rights reserved.

Proverbs 31 Ministries
P.O. Box 3189
Matthews, NC 28106
www.Proverbs31.org

Originally published Wednesday, 24 April 2024.

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