Anxiety is Understandable, but it’s Not Inevitable
We live in an fretful society: anxiety is the most common mental illness in the United States.I once shamed myself for my constant worry, without realizing I wasn’t alone. Even now, I get letters every week from Christians weary from fighting their fear, and ashamed they haven’t been able to trust Christ.
The shame we feel often makes it harder to change things. Rather than acknowledging that we swim in an anxious culture, we rely on our willpower to move against the tide. When we fail to stop worrying, we become even more ashamed and anxious.
If you feel anxious no matter how much you pray, you’re not alone, you’re not a terrible Christian, and you’re not weak. You’re a broken person in need of God’s power, discernment, and guidance. Rather than praying more and more, as if prayer is a magic anxiety eraser, pay attention to your anxiety and learn its lessons.
Are you anxious at certain times of the month? Do family relationships leave you sleepless at night? Do you need therapy, counseling, or training to manage your life more effectively? Do you need psychiatric help or medication?
Anxiety is a signal that something in our lives needs healing. This shouldn’t be a surprise—we’re all broken vessels in need of God’s power and wisdom. Yes, prayer can be part of how God calls you to deal with anxiety, but repentance and wholeness also call for practical steps towards wholeness. Whether it’s talking to your doctor, asking for advice, reading a book on boundariesand relationships, or getting formal therapy, God uses many tools to heal our lives.
In Ephesians 5, Paul says, “Wake up, sleeper…Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity...” He then counsels us to be filled with the Holy Spirit.
When I first learned those verses in college, I would never have guessed that waking up to my anxiety would help me rely on the Holy Spirit. Before I understood my fear, it drove me away from God. But once I took it seriously, it helped me figure out where in my life I needed God’s healing.
Anxiety is shame, bondage, and hell if we let it rule our lives. But given to God and addressed, it is, like all our weaknesses, a way God is glorified through us.
Heather Caliri is a writer from San Diego who uses tiny, joyful yeses to free herself from anxiety. Tired of anxiety controlling your life? Try her mini-course, “Five Tiny Ideas for Managing Anxiety," for free here.
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