08 Sep Anxiety And Trusting The Lord
Philippians 4:6-7 “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your request to God. And the peace of God which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
I was in an equipping class at church last spring when I was memorizing this verse. One day out of the blue, I had an overwhelming sense of anxiety that crushed me. Anxiety was relatively new to me, and I had no idea why it was ramping up in this season of life. I have a complicated history of childhood trauma and came to know the Lord in my 30’s with numerous wounds and scars, but anxiety was never part of that story. This physical feeling was real and it had been happening more and more over the last few months. There was a deep distrust in my marriage and I had not been putting that into words – my heart was afraid to trust, so instead, I imagined worst case scenarios involving things my husband could possibly be doing against me. These were based purely out of my own imagination. This lack of trust caused me to be anxious and fearful of what could possibly be happening without my knowledge and out of my control. The result was physical. I felt sick – my heart rate elevated, my stomach was in knots, the walls were closing in… Philippians 4:6-7 popped into my head and I prayed through every single word, and after a few times through it, my anxiety was gone and I felt a sense of peace. How did just saying this miraculously help me? Well it didn’t, but as I was speaking truth against the overwhelming emotions I had, the intensity began to lessen and I was able to remember that peace comes from God and I needed that right now. His peace guards our hearts and our minds. I realized I had no control over anything in that moment, and I chose to believe what God was telling me, “Do not be ANXIOUS about ANYTHING,” and that it was a command. The Lord was telling me there is never a time when He says, “Ok, Amy, yes. That. Go ahead and worry about THAT, because I am busy over here and might lose track of your needs.” Instead, He says there is nothing I can be anxious about, because He has me.
After weeks had gone by, I began to realize that no matter what I was seeking in my marriage, when I started to force my husband to do more than he was capable of, that relationship became dysfunctional on my end. I would turn to manipulation and shaming as a defense mechanism so that I would not feel hurt and would try to push him away. I began to realize through the chaos in my heart and mind that the control I was seeking to have was an illusion. I needed to look to the Lord to meet my needs – my needs for security and significance would only be fulfilled by Him. If I was looking for that one person or one thing to be just so, in order to feel safe, it began to be an idol and came between me and the Lord. I know in my mind, that the Lord was going to have to be enough for me, and I wanted that, but I didn’t know how to have that perspective or heart change. I prayed for it though. Romans 8:26-27 says, “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.”
In time, I started to change what I did when I felt anxious. When an anxious thought came to me and my heart started racing, I broke down the thought and decided whether it was something I had any control over. Almost always the answer was “No.” I chose to pray and give it to God instead. I also chose to LEAVE it with GOD and not revisit it by choosing not to dwell on the thought again. This actually started to work, the thoughts would come still, but I did not allow myself to entertain them. I prayed and said, “I can’t control that,” and I asked God to take it from me. This began to free me from the bonds of control that I was constantly trying to have over others. When I felt insignificant or unsafe, I was fearful – which resulted in my need to control others. Soon, I started to realize that God was enough and believed it in my heart. Through prayer and talking to GOD, my urge to control became less. My trust in the Lord deepened and I began to feel safe meditating on the truth that the Lord “is my steadfast love and my fortress, my stronghold and my deliverer, my shield and He in whom I take refuge.” Psalm 144:2
This is what I have learned, Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” On this journey of trusting the Lord, He has been using this verse to speak to me. It doesn’t just mean that no matter what happens, I need to just be okay with it because God knows and He will let me know when I need to know what He’s doing. It means that my purpose is to be Christ-like, and everything God is doing around me, through me, in me, is for that purpose. He is constantly refining me. For my good, to be like Him. To desire what He desires. To feel enough because He is enough for me. To feel His love because He died for me. And to be free because Christ is in me. All of those things are for His glory. My good and His glory.
God’s promise in Romans 8 means He is already at work, refining us for our good. The life I now live, I live by faith – the pain, suffering, hard relationships, trusting others, boundary issues – God can redeem them all. Romans 6:6-8 “We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.” We can choose to believe this and live in the freedom that has been paid for us through the blood of Jesus. Despite the choices we make, whether sinful or merely not fully trusting in God’s goodness, we are forgiven and He loves us right where we are. We are told in Romans 8:35 that nothing can separate us from the love of Christ – He redeems everything we give to Him. We have to choose to do that, and nothing can stop the redemption process. Not death, not life, not angels or rulers. Not this moment, or all the tomorrows to come. Nothing can stop God from working all things for good—not even you or me (Romans 8:38-39).
Hear more of Amy’s story here: Mom Struggling Well Podcast: Episode 51
or on iTunes: Mom Struggling Well Podcast: Episode 51 on itunes