Talking back to Anxiety

I don’t know what the future holds. Sometimes I think of what might happen and I panic. How will I cope?  Who will care for those I love? But my heart steadies as I remember these words:

“The Lord is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear?  The Lord is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid?” Psalm 27:1

If I can only get through this.  If I just take charge of this. If I can change this. If I get this. On and on, and nothing changes.  Yet one thing is true.  One person stays the same:

“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” Psalm 46:1

I can’t sleep.  I’ve tried everything; pills, hypnosis, hot milk, no screens.    Too hot – too cold.  Two o-clock, three 0’clock, four. It’s got so I dread going to bed. I cling to Him:

Psalm 4:8 “In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.”

I’m under so much pressure at work.  I don’t know how to reach my child. I can’t pay the bills.  I can’t meet my deadlines. The boiler’s broken.  My parents are sick. What can I do?  Where can I turn?

“Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall.” Psalm 55:22

I’m waiting for test results.  I’m having treatment. I’m walking alongside a sick friend. What if it’s not okay? How will we cope?

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” Psalm 23:4.

I know I’m not looking after myself.  Eating junk; too much caffeine, burning the candle at both ends.  I need to make changes, but I feel like I’m stuck.

“’For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.  Do not be afraid, for I myself will help you,’ declares the Lord, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel.” Isaiah 41:13-14

The meds make it better, but I’m still not fixed.  I’m frightened I’ll be on them all my life; but I’m frightened I can’t manage alone.  What will others think? Will they judge me like I judge myself?

“The Lord your God is in your midst, A victorious warrior. He will exult over you with joy, He will be quiet in His love, He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy.” Zephaniah 3:17 


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11 thoughts on “Talking back to Anxiety

  1. So where do these bible quotes leave those of us suffering from severe anxiety disorder? With yet more guilt at being a failure and a crap Christian.

  2. Great question Nicky. Here’s what helps me: The Bible speaks to us as people who are by nature wracked with anxiety, (not just some people but everyone). The anxious Christian is not crap, any more than the depressed Christian or the angry Christian or the ashamed Christian or the proud Christian. We are human – and post Eden, our minds and bodies and emotions don’t work the way we want – and we can’t make them work, no matter how hard we try. There are some struggles we face, like anxiety or depression, that may never go away in this life. However, though these struggles may not change, we can choose to respond to them in different ways.. The Bible teaches us to talk back to our emotions and our hearts, to speak truth to ourselves and to one another – not to lay guilt on our heads or as a quick fix for struggles like anxiety; but because the gospel truth is bigger than how we feel. This may not change the situations we face, but it reminds us that God is bigger than our weakness and there is hope, even if we don’t feel it. The times when I need to hear these verses are the times when I’m struggling most; when I can’t change myself and I hate myself and am tempted to feel guilty and condemn myself as a rubbish believer.These verses don’t say ‘pull yourself together and come back to God when you’re fixed’, (which is what I expect and more to the point, what I’m telling myself), they say ‘bring your suffering to Jesus, because He hears and He cares. Remember who He is; not a God who points the finger and condemns, but one who joins you in your struggles and carries them for you. A God who sweats blood and knows better than anyone what it is to feel burdened and afraid – but who rises from the grave and will raise us too.

  3. Nicky, I’ve been struggling with anxiety for years. I wish it would go away – I’ve prayed that it would go away but it hasn’t. But it doesn’t mean we’re crap Christians. The bible is full of broken and damaged people who were nevertheless loved and used by God. Our weakness drives us to Him, and through our weakness He shows His strength. We are jars of clay made beautiful by the treasure of His grace in our lives. We walk with a limp towards the One who bears the wounds of suffering on the palms of His hands and understands us and our struggles.

    Praying that you would know His presence with you in the midst of it all, as He holds you tightly.

  4. To Nicky.
    To some degree, we are all crap Christians. Please know that most people have their secret little unhealthy ways to handle their anxieties. They are called addictions.

    These verses Emma shares are the key to freedom for both groups. I personally have lived and do still sometimes swing between both the addiction and anxiety camps, and have tried many things to find relief.

    While meds, supplements, and dietary changes have their place and can help some, I have found that only the Truth can set us free, and that kind of Freedom comes moment by moment.

    Breathe in, Breathe out.

    I think maybe the anxiety disorders get an especially bad name because they are the obvious flashing sign that says “Something’s wrong in here!!!”. Just because someone else keeps a tight grip on the panic through a behavior or substance, it does not mean they are not driven by out of control anxiety as well.

  5. Timely post my friend. Thank you.
    I was feeling really overwhelmed this week. Our 20th anniversary is coming in a bit and it’s sort of sending me over the edge anxiety wise.

    I felt the sleeplessness nights creeping back in. I heard the voice that says I’m a total idiot. I saw the list of undone duties (failures) getting longer and longer. I felt money problems, neighbor problems, health problems, family problems all pressing in.

    And then yesterday someone told me about this:

    I first thought it was a joke, but no this really is a neighbor. He is about a mile away from us as the crow flies (or as the snake slithers, ha ha) My kids are out playing now but honestly I don’t even know how to behave. What a ridiculous thing to have to think about in the Arctic. Bears, yes. But snakes?

    “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” Psalm 46:1

  6. What a beautiful way to reveal how Scripture encourages us through adversities we are all bound to face in this life on earth. Our temporary home. Thank you Emma!

    “For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.” ‭‭Romans‬ ‭15:4‬ ‭ESV‬‬

  7. Snakes?! Goodness. Sorry you are feeling overwhelmed – I’m praying for you now.

  8. I suppose the snake is nothing compared to that guy who lost him. Which one is more of a threat to small children and pets is hard to say…

  9. 1. MY ANXIETIES HAVE ANXIETIES TOO so I completely commiser(y)ate (ha ha pun geddit anyone #okayItried) with Linus, poor dude – for real, though, my self-judgmentalness judges myself for being self-judgmental .. woohoo, self-judgemental-ception … IS NOT FUN.

    2. Learning to realise (I obviously know this rationally, but my irrational self cannot believe it true sometimes) that looking after myself, both physically and mentally, has its benefits (crisps is okay after a rubbish week, just as fruit is okay because #lunchadultingmove hahahah – bought myself fruit with lunch earlier this week)

    But also .. while I am not sure if I’ll ever say this at any point in my life ever again, but for now … i’m realising work in manageable quality and quantity, can be beneficial for mental health, for me! :D but also ok I do think working environment plays a part too and I’m thankful for a boss who gives specific feedback, helps me feel valued, but also more importantly views me as a whole person rather than “that girl with anxiety” or “that non-graduate”.

    Anxiety and non-grad-ness cumulatively could disadvantage me significantly elsewhere, if without someone open-minded/understanding …

    3. Love your explanation of the verses as per your comment to Nicky, Emma!

    cos too commonly we’d be led to the “don’t worry, there’s no need to worry bcos #God” approach, as though He magically makes everything better. Well I mean, yes, He sort of does make everything better, but not always the way we understand and definitely usually not “magically” better haha.

    So it’s helpful that you’ve helped us/me understand that it’s not “stop worrying because God”, it’s more like “God, being *God*, is not afraid of your worries and fears, which He will take if you hand them to Him” (not many people have been taught to read Psalms of such nature in this light, but rather the “don’t worry because #God” lenses. Which can be quite unhelpful for people with anxiety issues I think!)

    And I will get to the new book soon! Caught undecided between wanting to savour it slowly or devour it at a shot (talk abt appetites .. hahaha ;-)) but mostly it’s the toss-up between reading and other More Important life priorities haha – if I had my way I do think reading IS quite an important life priority too …

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