EXPOSE | Is There No Escaping Being Anxious?
“Anxiety is the most predominant form of mental illness in our country, plaguing both young and old, showing up as post-traumatic stress syndrome, obsessive compulsive disorder, even phobias and generalized anxiety disorder.” – Vince Miller
EXPLORE | Be Anxious For… Nothing
According to Google, this is what we’re talking about: “experiencing worry, unease, or nervousness, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome.” Quiz! See what I did there? I gave everyone just a little anxiety.
As much as we welcome being able to instantly know what’s going on in the world, it seems that at the same time we’re opening up ourselves to a seemingly endless source of anxiety. Even what God says about being anxious brings on a little anxiety:
“Be anxious for nothing…” – Phil. 4:6
“Do not be anxious about your life…” – Matt. 6:25
It should be clear to us that there is no way we could expect to live a life free of anxiety. It can happen at any point of our day–even on the best day. So accepting that, what can we do about it? We are told not to be anxious, and there is no good reason to be, so why do we still do it?!
“Which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?” – Matt. 6:27
And can we, as Miller’s article suggests, ‘leverage it [anxiety] to our advantage’?
EXECUTE | Don’t Be Anxious, But Instead…
Identify legitimate concerns. Our anxiety may be caused by something that we shouldn’t be anxious about in the first place! Nothing is worth worrying about, but there are things we should be concerned with. Are we worrying about something that we have no business worrying about? If it is a legitimate concern, what is our part in responding to it?
“Do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” – Matt. 6:25-27
Notice that it says “don’t be anxious”, not don’t look anxious. Don’t try and fake it. If there is something going on in our life that is of legitimate concern, don’t hide it. Share it appropriately.
Transfer control. Not only are we sometimes anxious about something we shouldn’t be, we can also think too highly of our ability to address it. We may have a grip on something, or be gripped by it, and need to hand it off to the One who can handle it, and love us more than we could ever love ourselves. If we want to do right by our lives we need to relinquish control and trust God to not only help us see what it is that is causing us anxiety, but to be able to respond to it effectively.
Deploy ‘anxiety management’. If we find yourself being anxious, Philippians 4:8 helps break down what we are do about it. Pray, ask, thank, and share. Are we being prayerful, asking sincerely, with thanksgiving, and making our requests known to God, or, just keeping it to ourselves?
Be anxious about nothing, but in everything, by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. – Phil. 4:6
Leverage it to our advantage. Miller describes anxiety as an opportunity for Jesus to ‘teach us how to direct our minds and hearts in order to please God”. Here are 3 ways he sees anxiety being leveraged to our advantage:
We shift our focus. “Jesus shifts our focus to the “more” in life — what our hearts crave. There is a different kind of life we experience in fellowship with our Creator that is supernatural. That’s where our lives become more than “food and clothing.”
We evaluate how we relate to God. What does our anxiety say about God, and, our how we are relating to Him? “The hard truth is that when we are anxious, we demonstrate lack of faith. We don’t trust God and instead take control, somehow believing we can take better care of our lives than God. It’s as if we say to the Creator of the universe, “I don’t need you, because I have to figure this out.” Then our hearts and minds circle and spin like hamsters on a treadmill.”
We transfer trust and concern. “Transfer your anxiety to God and place your concern where it belongs: on the things of God.”
Our brave new world has afforded us ample opportunities to be anxious. We had better know how to respond. Start by separating legitimate concerns from things that are out of our control, and then manage the anxiety (Phil. 4:6) through to being able to leverage it to your advantage–directing our minds and hearts in a way that pleases God.
[Original article: use anxiety to your advantage]