Friday, September 14, 2012

God Thoughts on Anxiety

"Do not be anxious about your life..."
Jesus admonishes his disciples 5 times in Matthew chapter 6 about being anxious! Seriously? Has Jesus looked at my life? Has he seen my husband's schedule or looked at our checkbook? And now the car dies! Anxiety. Worry. It’s the national pre-occupation, right? Everyone does it; and it's not just an American thing. Obviously it was a problem in Jesus day as well or He would not have made such a point about it! He wants us to pay attention. Anxiety is not to be a part of the Kingdom of Heaven.

Tension headaches drive you to Advil or Tylenol. It ties your gut in knots, turns your shoulders into bricks and stomach acid tries to eat a hole in your intestines. Worry keeps you up at night or causes you to grind your teeth. It wears out your adrenal glands! When the adrenals go, there is a domino effect. Motivation plummets. You battle depression and exhaustion. Anxiety does awful things to your body.

Anxiety and worry do awful things to relationships as well. We snap at our spouse, our friends, our children. We lash out and say things we don’t mean and then have a hard time saying, “I’m sorry.” When we drive ourselves until the last nerve is frayed...our child asks a simple question, and appropriately so; but we hear it as a demand. It is the straw that breaks us and we behave badly. In that moment we are modeling for our child what God is like…but we don’t model the truth about God. The sad part is that we reflect back to our child a picture of himself that is also not true. He sees in our face that He is a bother and a burden rather than a delight.

So how do we stop the cycle? First we must understand the problem. The problem is that we do not trust God. Ideally, we are to learn to trust God by first trusting our parents, then our family, and then we branch out into the community. If parents do job well they will be able to soften the blows when other family members, friends and classmates turn on us, betray us and otherwise let us down miserably. But what if parents leave gaps; sometimes they are trustworthy, but other times not so much? That relationship mirrors our relationship with God. First, we learn to not trust ourselves or God and then we develop a tentative approach to relationships with extended family and most certainly, we are tentative in regard to trusting outside the family.

Like it or not, the picture we have of trust within the family (especially trust of parents) is projected onto self and God. God wears Dad’s face; He wears Mom’s face. Parents talk to us—that’s how we learn to talk. They walk us so that we can walk. We trust them; that’s how we learn to trust. If they teach us that we should not trust, that trusting is a bad idea…what then? We worry. We test the chair before we sit down. We do that because we have this wonderful ability to generalize. Rather than, “I cannot trust my parent in [this] situation.” We generalize to, “I cannot trust my parents.” It is further shortened to “I cannot trust.” And then a funny morphing happens—it becomes a command that we give ourselves: “Do not trust!” So we hold our cards close to our vest and are tentative and careful as a life stance. Behind that stance is a lack of trust that God has our back; a lack of trust that He will provide. We have plenty of evidence from abandonment and neglect, to lack of provision, from abuse of various kinds to savage betrayal.

Jesus tells us plainly how to solve the problem:  “Seek first the kingdom of God and all these things will be added unto you.” Simple, but not easy. I was complaining to God about the cares of this life one day when God told me to stop. He said that was His responsibility that He accepted when I accepted Him as Savior. It was His part of that covenant. My part of that covenant was to seek Him and develop the maturity and character of Jesus as my own. That stopped that whine session! Even though I know better, I have whined since then—old habits die hard. We are anxious about the necessities of life: food, clothing, housing, cars, bank accounts, etc. but Jesus tells us to look around and see the evidence of His provision. Birds are fed without “earning” it. Wildflowers are dressed more elegantly than Solomon! He gently encourages us that we can solve this problem! Here are some other blog that speaks to the issue: and So what can we do?

·       Don’t deny reality, but take our focus off the problem and put it on God—get to really know Him

·       Use your Bible as a life manual—read the red print to know how God thinks about how to do life

·       Don’t give up

·       Ask God for someone trustworthy—someone who will present a different picture of Him; someone who can help you sort through the debris

There is plenty to fuss about in life--but we know Who is in ultimate control. When the waves threaten to overwhelm we can call out to the One who calmed the sea. Are you or have you been an Olympic class worrier? Would you share some tips on how you beat the habit?

Blessings, Carol Brown, author of The Mystery of Spiritual Sensitivity and Highly Sensitive, and The Sassy Pants Series for children of all ages!

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