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!

 

 

Advertisements

When Silence is Loud

Sitting on my couch, I watched the setting sun cast it’s long shadows across my living room wall. The silence in the house was so loud, it deafened me.

Yes, you read that right. I said the silence was deafening.

I come from a large, loud family. Even when we didn’t have friends over, our house was still crowded, and loud. As the middle child of five sisters, I was able to experience the joys of sharing a bedroom, bathroom, and even my clothes with a crowd!

Eventually, I moved out of my noisy house and into a noisy, college dormitory. There, I shared a room with 4 other girls. Our house had eleven people living in it. Talk about crazy!

After living my entire life with crazy, loud females, you would think I’d get my own place just so I could enjoy some silence. Instead, I met a really handsome guy and decided to get married. I went from sharing a noisy dormitory to living in an apartment with my husband. I worked a part time job until giving birth to our first child.

I have spent the last 16 years raising 4 children. When it was time for my youngest child to go to school full-time, and for me to enjoy silent days at home, I found myself taking care of my sick husband.

Finally the day arrived. My husband was going back to work full-time after being home nearly two years. In my excitement, I made a list of fun house projects, stacked several books in a neat pile by my chair (pictured above), and filled my calendar with empty days.

Except, instead of leisurely resting in the sweet joys of silence, I became a tight ball of nervous energy. I had never truly been alone for more than an hour or two, and I wasn’t used to the silence. I soon learned that I was not a person who loved complete silence. I would much rather try to have a conversation with my husband over the craziness of our 4 loud children, than to be in an empty, quiet house alone. There is a lesson in the Bible for every phase of our lives, and I soon learned the benefits silence.

We need silent moments in our lives to remind us that God is still God. We get so busy in our day-to-day crazy, that we allow the noise and confusion of the world to creep into our hearts. We become weighted down over news of future wars, corrupt politics, and raging teenagers with guns. Yet, when we take time to shut the world out a few minutes everyday, and read the Word of God, we can find comfort in the truth that God is still God! Those worries are not for us to figure out. Just be still and see what the Lord can do! Someday, He is going to come and make everything that’s wrong in this world, right!

Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.” – Psalms 46:10

We need quiet moments in our lives so we can see God’s miracles. Four months ago, my husband was in the final phase of his cancer treatments (read Gabe’s cancer story here). During that time, my life was crazy. I pretty much felt like a single mom as my husband was often too sick to partake in normal “daddy duties”. During those crazy days, I was too busy to see the miracles God was performing. It wasn’t until it was all over, and I found myself sitting in a quiet empty house, that the reality of our situation really hit me. My husband had survived cancer – twice! And although we struggled more financially than we ever had, we somehow not only survived, but thrived!

“It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the Lord .” – Lamentations 3:26

We need quiet moments in our lives so God can give us confidence for our future. In Isaiah chapter 30, God warns Israel to not seek help from the Egyptians. He warns them that if they do, it will be to their own detriment. God advised Israel that their safety relied not in running for their lives, but in staying in the quietness of where they were.

Sometimes, we need to rest in the quietness of where we are. The shadows of our future can easily alarm us, causing us to fear tomorrow. We become tempted to follow the worlds solutions, rather than following God’s Word. Don’t give in to that temptation. Instead, wait quietly in the silence of where God has you now. Listen to His voice, and follow His Word. In doing this, we can have confidence in our tomorrows!

“For thus saith the Lord God , the Holy One of Israel; In returning and rest shall ye be saved; in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength: and ye would not.” – Isaiah 30:15

They say that silence is golden. I have yet to experience the physical riches of silence! I have learned, however, that there are many spiritual benefits to having a quiet moment.

Meditation Monday – Winds of Change

Time has a way of bringing about change. With change, often comes uncertainty. Foundations that for years seemed stable and reliable, can be shaken in the winds of change. Yet, when we make Christ the foundation of our life, we can have a sure confidence that will never be shaken, no matter how much life around us changes! When your world seems to be shaking with rumors of change on the horizon, plant your feet firmly in the Word of God! Don’t be afraid, for you are standing on a firm foundation!

“Be not afraid of sudden fear, neither of the desolation of the wicked, when it cometh. For the Lord shall be thy confidence, and shall keep thy foot from being taken.” -Proverbs 3:25‭-26

A Year Ago

A year ago today, I had no idea that our family was about to embark on a journey that would forever change our lives. I had no idea that just a few short days into 2017, my husband would be diagnosed with colon cancer. I never would have guessed that it would be a year filled with private tears, and worry.

A year ago today, I had no idea how good our God is! I had no idea how far the reach of His comforting arms extended! Never did I expect the honor of witnessing the miracles He performed, just for us! A year ago today, I had no idea how much God really cared for and loved me. I had never experienced such great, unexplainable peace in the midst of great chaos!

A year ago today, I didn’t understand that in order to shine brightly for God, you have to be surrounded by darkness.

I didn’t know that God could use you for His glory during the hardest of your trials and struggles. I didn’t understand that when we are in our weakest state, that is when our God is strongest! Never would I have guessed that walking with the Saviour in 2017 would be the sweetest walk I would ever experience!

Today, I am facing the future of 2018. Sometimes, I look ahead in trepidation, wondering what surprises are lurking in its dark corners. Yet, the fear doesn’t last very long because all I have to do is think back to a year ago and remember how God saw us through the most difficult journey of our lives. 2018 will hold it’s trials, and who knows, maybe they will be more difficult than what we have already faced! I know that I can trust God, however, to be right there with me, from the start of the journey, all the way to the very end!

“But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:19

Thank you, dear readers, for joining me in my discoveries of God’s goodness and mercy in 2017! I hope and pray you all have a VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS! And whatever is in store for your 2018, I pray you claim the promise of God’s peace!

“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” – John 14:27

(Photograph taken by Kasey Photography)

Meditation Monday – Our Times

​”But I trusted in thee, O Lord : I said, Thou art my God.  My times are in thy hand: deliver me from the hand of mine enemies, and from them that persecute me.” –  Psalms 31:14‭-‬15

Do you ever wonder how you will die? Will it be long and painful, or unexpectedly short? If you find you are thinking about your own death, you need to recognize that those thoughts are not healthy, and they are NOT from God!

David was a man whose life was hunted by a madman, put in danger during many battles, and pushed out of his own kingdom by his son. I’m sure there were times he wondered how his own life would end.

“But I trusted in thee, O Lord : I said, Thou art my God.  My times are in thy hand:”

If we, like David, put our trust completely in the Lord, we can have peace in knowing that our life is in God’s hands! So stop worrying about your end, and rest in the knowledge that God is holding your times in His hand!

Leaving the Valley

“I’m a little nervous to leave the valley”, I told my friend. 

“Why?”

“We’ve been under God’s protective hand for the last year, I’m afraid to leave! How will we be able to get back to normal life again?

That day, I allowed a tiny seed of doubt to be planted in my heart. That tiny seed then began to grow, until it bloomed into an ugly blossom of worry.

“What if the cancer comes back?”

“What if Gabe can’t handle full-time work?”

Soon, that ugly plant of doubt and worry began to grow thorns and vines that were cutting and choking me. I had given in to my fears. 

Suddenly, I was having panic attacks. I couldn’t drive, and I had unreasonable fear each time Gabe went into the office. 
Instead of leaving the valley feeling victorious over what God had done for my husband, I was a miserable mess over a future I could not control. 

“Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.” – Isaiah 41:10

Friends, God is good! He graciously reminded me that leaving the valley doesn’t mean I am leaving His protection. My journey will continue on, weather in a valley or on a mountain, with God holding me in His protective hand!

I confessed my fear to God. I told God I trusted Him with the future. I asked Him to help me no longer give place to fear in my life. I thanked Him for the victory He gave me over my sin of fear. 

I began to drive again. I didn’t have a panic attack when my husband went into the office. The anxiety left.

If you have been in a long valley, and find you are about to leave, don’t allow seeds of doubt, worry, or fear to enter your mind. These seeds will grow into ugly plants. They will steal away the peace and victory God gave you in the valley.

Instead, leave the valley with praise on your lips, and a song in your heart. Remember, you will never leave the Father’s hand!

“The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord : and he delighteth in his way.  Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the Lord upholdeth him with his hand.” – Psalms 37:23‭-‬24

For those who have been following my husband’s journey with cancer, he recieved fantastic news a few weeks ago! He was declared NED, and given a clear bill of health! We couldn’t be happier with this news, and are currently getting back to “normal” life. 

Meditation Monday – Breaking the Chains of Fear

Palms sweating, I gripped the steering wheel tight. I knew the snow flakes were melting on the black pavement, but my heart still raced. What if the melting snow began to freeze? Lightly tapping the brakes, I slid into the right lane and turned on my hazard lights. Breathing in short, deep breaths, I slowly made my way home, tears spilling down my cheeks. 

15 years ago, I was involved in a serious car accident that resulted in a trip to the hospital. When I was released, I sported several stiches, a black eye, and a new fear of driving. For several weeks, fear held me captive in my own home. Finally, my husband encouraged me to get behind the wheel again. After many months of slow driving, deep breathing, and tears, I was finally driving normally again.

Is there a fear in your life holding you captive? It may take time before you are able to break those chains of captivity, but don’t give up. You might have to go slow, and there may be tears, but keep persevering! Remember, God did not bind you in those chains of fear. He gave you the power to break free! 

For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. – 2 Timothy 1:7