For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Is 9:6
The day had arrived to take my driving test. Laying on the kitchen floor in the fetal position with sharp pain shooting through my stomach, I had no idea how I would make it to the test. I don’t remember how my mom got me off the floor and to the testing center, but I did end up taking and passing the test.
I didn’t recognize it as anxiety at the time, but looking back now I can see anxiety was my faithful friend for as far back as I can remember. Well-meaning people would quote Philippians 4:6-7 to me as a solution to my problems.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
I tried everything in my power to find peace. I would push down the worrisome thoughts and try not to think about them. And what happens to thoughts we try to not think about something? Exactly – I thought about them more. That brought a deep guilt as I suffered silently, embarrassed to admit to anyone what a failure I was. Good Christian’s weren’t afraid, and I was afraid so I must not be a good Christian.
I was frustrated and discouraged because I couldn’t get those verses to work for me. My problem was that I was trying to eliminate anxiety on my own strength, by willing it away. I interpreted the verses like this:
Nancy – if you are anxious you are in sin. You need to pray harder and work harder at not worrying so you will have God’s peace. No wonder that didn’t work.
It’s all about letting God take control and letting His power work in me, not about me trying harder.
Jesus is my Prince of Peace
That means I have freedom
I am no longer in bondage to anxiety. It still pops up fairly regularly, but I am free from its chains. When it shows up, I can move forward while I have the sensations of anxiety.
Freedom didn’t come from the absence of fear, but in the opposite – in surrendering in the stressful situation. I am willing to do whatever it is that I’m anxious about while being anxious. I realize now that fear is an emotion and emotions aren’t truth. They are just sensations and thoughts my body is producing. The more I practice that the less the hold anxiety seems to have on me.
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
I have hope
God’s peace doesn’t come by effort on my part, but by trusting God’s power, love and strength. I have a deep confidence He is with me and He is able to work out all things – even if I don’t think so at the time.
When I am confident in who I am in Christ I can surrender my need to control the outcome of a situation. I walk through it because I know God is going work it for good.
Separating who I am from anxiety allows me to watch the hyper monster of anxiety from a distance as it runs around panicking. I know that is not me. I can reach out and hug and love the monster and assure it we will be alright.
We are going to have problems in this world. The goal isn’t to eliminate them. But we can’t fight them either. In the trial, we can have peace because we know God is God and He is working this for our good.
Have you struggled with anxiety? What tools have you found useful when dealing with it?
Thank you, Jesus, for being my Prince of Peace. You are my comforter and help. I am confident that no matter what is going on around me you are my rock and my strong tower. I can run to you and be safe. I realize we will have problems in this world. I thank you for the peace that comes from trusting you are God and you are good. You are a chain-breaker. Thank you for the freedom that comes from you. In Jesus Name, Amen.