Can One Really Overcome Anxiety?

Over the last few months, I found myself questioning everything I thought I knew about anxiety. I was experiencing new symptoms that left me confused, and a little afraid. I began to wonder…

can one really overcome anxiety?

This question bothered me. It circled in my mind as I lay in bed, it nestled in my thoughts when I washed dishes and folded clothes. It lingered in the background when I listened to music or watched TV. All the while, my anxiety grew. It wasn’t until I had reached the climax of my struggle, and sought counsel from my pastor, that I finally understood.

Because I am a lover of the written word, and I think more clearly when I can write my thoughts on paper, I have written this post in answer to my plaguing question! This article was not written for you, dear readers. It was written for myself. It is a compilation of all I have learned from my pastors, reading the Word of God, reading many books and articles, and my own personal experience.

Six Things People Who Overcome Anxiety Don’t Do:

1. Focus on their symptoms. People who overcome anxiety have learned that they can’t focus on their symptoms. Instead, they work on capturing every worry and fear and handing them over to God. Overcomers have learned that when they focus on their symptoms, and how terribly they want to be healed, they are actually robbing God from His glory. When the focus shifts from our symptoms to God’s goodness, we are taking the first step to glorifying Him!

Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of God.” – 2 Corinthians 10:5

2. Allow their emotions to rule them. People who overcome anxiety have learned that they can’t allow their emotions to rule them. It is not a sin to feel sad, or angry. The sin lies in how much freedom we give to those emotions. If we allow our emotions to rule our spirits, we are allowing ourselves to become vulnerable to even more pain and suffering. When we allow our emotions to reign, life, in general, can feel like an impossibility in our minds, opening the door to dangerous thoughts. Overcomers choose to not follow emotional thoughts, and instead, leave them at the feet of Christ.

He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down and without walls.” – Proverbs 25:28

Gird up the loins of your mind…” – 1 Peter 1:13

3. Play the “worry game”. People who overcome anxiety don’t play the “worry game”. They realize that while they can’t always help the worry that might pop into their heads, they can choose to not follow them. Once you follow a worry in your mind, it leads to more worries, and before you know it, you are on a merry-go-round of unhealthy thoughts and anxiety! Overcomers choose to not follow their worry.

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” – Philippians 4:8

4. Quit God’s calling in their life. People who overcome anxiety don’t stop trying to please God. What is God’s calling in your life? God has personally called me to be a wife and a mother. Because of God’s grace, I have the strength necessary to fulfill this calling, even when I am having an exceptionally bad day. Every Christian, young and old, is called by God to do something, and God has given each of us the strength to obey, despite our anxieties. Yes, sometimes we need to rest, even God rested on the 7th day of Creation! However, God always gives us renewed strength to do His will! Overcomers recognize that they can still obey God, despite their anxiety.

I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” – Philippians 4:13

But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” – Isaiah 40:31

4. Stop Praising God. People who overcome anxiety don’t stop praising God. If it’s a good day, they praise God for the good day! If it’s a bad day, they find at least one good thing in that day, to praise Him for. Overcomers know that when they are able to give God thanks, not for their anxiety, but through their anxiety, they are reflecting God’s grace in their lives! They learn to rejoice in the day, instead of just “getting through” it.

This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it” – Psalms 118:24

5. Forget the true meaning of “overcome”. People who overcome anxiety know it is a daily battle. Whatever the cause of your anxiety: worry, stress, fear, past addiction, or chemical imbalance – the victory is not in defeating the anxiety, but in your obedience to God despite it. Overcoming is learning to glorify your Heavenly Father, despite your difficulty. Overcoming is not allowing your difficulty to control you.

Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.” – Philippians 4:11

And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” – 2 Corinthians 12:9

6. Ignore God’s promises. People who overcome anxiety cling to God’s promises for peace. They realize that the more they read the Bible, and the more they pray, the closer to God they become. They realize that only God truly knows the thoughts and intents of their own hearts and that God loves them anyway! Overcomers know that no matter how difficult their anxiety may become, God is still with them and that He is offering His grace!

And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:7

I the Lord search the heart, I try the reins…” – Jeremiah 17:10

If I ascend up into heaven, thou are there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.”– Psalms 139:8-10

I’m not really sure I can claim to be an “overcomer” of anxiety, but it is something I strive for every day!

If you are a Christian struggling with anxiety, and this article was a help to you, leave me a comment below!

 

 

3 Truths To Remember When Going Through Anxiety

Watching the car steer off the road, I looked at the driver. Her eyes were closed, her mouth gaping open. She was unconscious, and she was about to hit a telephone pole!
Adrenaline rushed through my veins, and I quickly made a u-turn. By the time I managed to get back to the run-away car, two men were already assisting the woman, and a bystander was calling 911. Not sure what to do, I ran across the street to a doctor’s office, and begged for a nurse to come with me.

I don’t know what happened to that woman, but I think of her often. I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to get her face from my mind. 

Witnessing that car accident triggered the first panic attack I’ve had in several years. I am now back in the throes of anxiety. 

I have no expert wisdom to share about how to permanently overcome anxiety. I do, however, want to share a few truths that have helped me the last few days.

#1 – God has a purpose for your anxiety.  If you are serving the Lord and to the best of your knowledge, are right with Him, then God has allowed anxiety in your life for a purpose. God may be using anxiety as a way to draw you closer to Him. He may be trying to soften your heart, and give you a humble spirit, in order to use your weakness to glorify Him. Don’t waste time trying to figure out God’s plan, just trust Him. 

#2 – Don’t trust your feelings. Rest in the knowledge that God cares about you, sees your pain, hears your cries and LOVES you! Don’t trust your feelings when you are going through anxiety, because your feelings are all over the place and unreliable. Instead, rely on the truth of the Word of God! 

#3 – Distract your mind. When in the midst of a panic attack, our minds tend to get stuck on unhealthy thought patterns. Here are some ideas I have found useful in the last few days. Spend some time with a friend. Clean your house. Listen to an audio book. Sing some songs. Go to church. Take a walk. Bake some bread. Spend time with your kids. Watch a funny movie. Write out encouraging scripture. Pray – and pray lot! 

You can have peace while going through anxiety. Peace that God has a purpose for your suffering, and peace that He cares and is really listening to your cry! These truths won’t cure anxiety, but they have personally helped me, and I pray they help you, as well. 

“Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.” – Isaiah 26:3

My Story with Anxiety

Hello, my name is Carrie.  I’m a mother of 4 crazy kids between the ages of 7 and 15.  I’m also married to a wonderful man who has battled a stroke, thyroid cancer, and now stage 3 colorectal cancer, in just the last two years. The last couple years have been very stressful to be sure.  God has been with me each step of each day.  The times I want to fall apart and throw a huge temper tantrum, God’s overwhelming peace floods over me.

I never would have been able to get through these difficult times without God’s precious promise of peace.  And I never would have claimed God’s promise of peace without the journey through anxiety He brought me through several years ago.  I want to share my story with you, because I want you to know that I understand what you may be going through.

One beautiful spring morning I woke up feeling as though I had the stomach flu.  Adrenaline rushes knocked me off my feet. My heart was palpitating, and I thought I was going to vomit.  I felt better in bed, so I went back to bed.  My husband stayed home to help with our kids getting to school and to take care of our toddler boys. For several days I struggled.  I would get up each day, try to eat, then wind up back in bed.  Finally, after five days of this, I went to the doctor, thinking maybe it was my gallbladder or something.

“It sounds like you might have anxiety.”

“No, I’m a stay-at-home mom.  I don’t have that much stress in my life.  Besides, I’m a Christian.  I don’t believe in anxiety.”

“Even stay-at-home moms can have stress in their lives.  Even if you don’t believe in anxiety, I really believe this is what you have.”

Later that day, my husband took the kids to the park.  I came along, even though I felt as though I was in a fog.  I felt like I wasn’t even really there.  Watching my kids play, I called my sister and sobbed on the phone.  My sisters are my rock.  Not only do they listen well, but I often glean from their wisdom. I was surprised when she confided something to me that I had never known.  She too, had struggled with anxiety.

The next day, I got out of bed.  I got dressed.  I did my hair. I dry-heaved.  I took my kids to school. I cried.  I had panic attacks.  I cried some more.  I prayed and begged God to take this feeling of anxiety away.

Over the next year, I literally fought a battle with anxiety. I was stubborn.  I wouldn’t take medication.  Instead, I went to a local herbal and vitamin store and talked to the owner who guided me to many supplements and vitamins.   I started exercising, and changed the way I was eating.  I began drinking healthy green smoothies and eliminated caffeine.  I had to take care of myself physically, so I could take care of my family. I realized, though, that healing from anxiety was not all physical.

Taking care of myself mentally was not something I even realized I was doing at the time.  I had a friend who knew what I was going through, who remained in contact with me through it all.  She didn’t judge me, she only encouraged me and gave helpful advice.  She told me I was strong enough to get through this, and reminded me of God’s promises of peace. Looking back, I could not have gotten through that time in my life without my friend. 

I also began to realize I had to stop focusing on what I was feeling and the only way I knew to do that was to focus on other people.  I began to write cards for sick church members, bake bread for neighbors.  I made it a goal to do at least one thing for someone else every day.

The most important and effective change I made in my life during this time was to strengthen my relationship with the Lord.  Being a second-generation Christian, I grew up memorizing the scripture and hearing it preached and taught from the pulpit.  All those precious promises spread throughout the Word of God were only words to me.  I had never had reason to claim these promises.  Promises of unconditional love, bountiful peace, and endless joy.

Most mornings I woke very early, and very suddenly, with my heart pounding a million miles a minute.  Reading my Bible was the only thing that could calm my heart, and it took on a different meaning in my life.  I LIVED to read my Bible, and the peace that would flood through me as I read.  In the beginning, I only read through Psalms.  I read them over and over.  I kept a notebook with my Bible and wrote out the verses that I felt God was giving me.

I would also take very early walks. This was my prayer time with God.  Before the sun was up, I would begin my walk around my neighborhood, talking to Him.  Usually crying and begging Him to heal me, or at least help me get through the day.

Physically, I was dealing with some serious symptoms of anxiety.  Heart palpitations, shaky legs, dry mouth, headaches, severe nausea.  I had lost 40 lbs in just a few months. I had separation anxiety issues.  I would cry and throw myself into my husbands arms when he would come home from work. (My poor husband!!)

One day, I reached a pivotal moment.  It had been 9 months, and I was still struggling.  I was on my morning walk, and had ended my walk by going to my back porch.  Our back yard is beautiful.  The city made a sanctuary out of a piece of land behind our house that has a large pond on it.  I can see it very clearly from my back porch, along with lots of tall grasses and beautiful trees.  As the sun came up, it’s rays filtering through the tree branches, tears streamed down my face.

“Lord, if You want me to have anxiety the rest of my life, I accept it.  Please just be with me to help me bear it.  You are Good, You are God, and You are Holy and Just.  I praise Your Name.  Thank You for giving me this anxiety.”

After that day, I slowly began to get better. Then, one morning I woke up and realized it had been a few days since I had felt the anxiety. Soon the days turned into months. 

I would like to say that my anxiety has never returned, but the truth is, there are still days it rears its ugly head head in my life. It’s different now, though.  Now I know that it’s going to be OK.  That God is on my side.  That there is HOPE.  I have PEACE.  JOY is always within reach.

I have a new life verse.

Philippians 4:7 says, “And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

It is special to me because I learned through experience that God can and will “keep our minds” if we seek Him and trust Him.

The picture below was taken two summers ago when our family went camping at Lake Huron.  I am in no way a photographer, but this sunset was so gorgeous and so beautiful.  It is just an example to me of the great things God has done in my life, and how He has blessed my journey through anxiety.

The purpose of this blog is to help encourage other Christians who struggle with anxiety.  God can bring you through to the other side, and you too can have peace.

20160729_210609