Can I be honest? I think I can, mainly because I know most of you and you are wonderful, authentic bloggers who do not mind if I speak my mind.
I am overwhelmed.
This semester has been particularly trying as I have a student who has been aggressively confrontational since day one. On top of that, you all know that I am striving to get my book revised and finished by the end of the year. Also, my grandpa was recently diagnosed with stage 3 cancer and it is spreading rapidly.
I repeat, I am overwhelmed.
And the thing is, I know you all probably are too. Online we all put up this fake face (maybe less so on WordPress where we are a bit more open about our true emotions) that shows the world how perfect our lives are. But, if we were being honest, we would admit that we are far from perfect. You are not alone in your imperfection, I am right there with you and I would like to reach out a hand to all those who are currently struggling with anxiety over their imperfect lives.
This past week, Pastor Matt Brown stood on stage and talked all about anxiety and I swear, I thought he was speaking directly to me. How often do I find myself overwhelmed by this world and the things that I cannot control? How often, in this past week alone, have a felt frozen by the anxiety that threatens to break through my self-control?
Do you want to know the secret to dealing with anxiety? Magazines everywhere claim that they know the “Top 5 Ways to Relax,” but they hardly ever mention the only true antidote, and that antidote is prayer. Even non-religious, scientific sources have reported the positive results that accompany prayer.
There is a very famous verse in the Bible that states, “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)
As a Christian for some twenty-odd years, I have heard this verse hundreds, if not thousands, of times. Sometimes this verse is extremely helpful and other times, it feels like “How can I just stop worrying? It’s not that easy.”
The problem was, I was misinterpreting the verse, thinking that to be a good Christian, I just needed to stop worrying and that if I could not, I was not being faithful. Pastor Matt brought up a fantastic point about the author of this verse. Paul, one of the greatest Christian writers of the New Testament, the same author of the above verse, talked about his own struggles with anxiety only two chapters previously. Paul was not looking down on those who struggle with anxiety, but rather, he was sharing his own wisdom about his own experiences with anxiety.
ANXIETY IS NORMAL. (Even for Christians)
In our current society, it seems that people enjoy looking down on those who struggle with anxiety, and they say things like this, “Just stop being anxious.”
Because that is super helpful, isn’t it?
Battling anxiety is not about learning how to “stop being anxious,” but to start praying when you are anxious. All of us get worried, or stressed, or anxious, but luckily we have an amazing God who WANTS to hear from us.
I Peter 5:7, “Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.”
When we begin to pray, we can talk about our anxieties to God knowing that He will not judge us for our struggles, but that He will listen. However, prayer is not just about making requests. Prayer should also include thanksgiving.
Philippians 4:6, “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done.“
Gratitude Changes Attitude
When we only fixate on the negative, it is impossible to escape our anxiety. However, when we release our anxieties to God and we then focus on all the good we have seen, all the good we have received, and the good that we can do for others, our attitude begins to shift.
I am not a Pastor, I am just a follower of Christ Jesus and I know that I am struggling and that this message really spoke to me and gave me the encouragement that I needed to thrive this week at work. I hope that you also find it encouraging and I hope that if you have the time, you might listen to the rest of the message. It’s actually got some really funny moments too (including Pastor Matt’s abnormal physical response to anxiety).