Q: Why am I so anxious?
A: Because you are so human.
Stat: I learned that around 30% of Americans will deal with an anxiety disorder sometime in their life. That means that roughly 1 out of 3 will at some point have a diagnosed, clinically defined anxiety disorder. Although I knew it was pretty common, I was still surprised to hear that anxiety is so widespread. And that’s not to say that the other 70% don’t have their moments also. Fear and its associated gremlins (insomnia, panic attacks, obsessive or compulsive behaviors) are something that many of us have struggled with off and on, and it is the topic of our discussion today.
Spirit, Soul, and Body
We are made up of spirit, soul, and body. I do not have time to fully discuss that here, nor do I fully understand it. However, it is crucial to remember that anxiety wars against us in our:
Body: The physical and material
Soul: Mind, emotions, will
Spirit: My inmost Being. My eternal Me.
God has made humans to be an intricate web of both the physical and the non-physical. In fact, we are told that the Word of God can create the dividing line between the soul and spirit, (Hebrews 4:12) but I can’t figure out how to separate them! We are too intertwined. Completely interconnected. As science discovers new ways to explore the human body, we learn more and more that we are “awesomely and wonderfully made!” (Psalm 139:14) So, when we have symptoms of anxiety it is a time when our soul has overwhelmed our body. A thought, which is not a physical thing, nonetheless exists in my mind (not physical) because I have a brain (physical). That thought can cause me to feel (not physical) anxious (not physical), which causes neurons to fire (physical), adrenaline and other chemicals (physical) to surge throughout my body (physical). These physical chemicals cause my heart rate to quicken, stomach acid to flow, the sensation of nausea to fill my thoughts. Can you see how these physical and non-physical dominoes all start falling one after another? It’s a chain reaction. It is amazing to me to explore the connection between the physical and the non-physical.
And that’s my main point today – it’s all connected!
Sin, Stress, and Insecurity
Let’s say that you are having a lot of upheaval at work. Or maybe your marriage has been more rocky than usual. Or let’s say you are a people-pleaser and are always secretly obsessed with making everyone happy. Or maybe you have a deep belief that you always let everyone down. Or maybe you have been supporting a friend or family member who has been fighting through a really tough situation. Or maybe you have a secret sin that is positively owning you, and you are tired of the guilt and shame that come from it. And maybe you haven’t been eating right, sleeping enough, or keeping physically active at all. Or maybe you have been too busy to pray, read the Bible, and spend time worshipping God.
Maybe some of these describe you. Maybe all of them describe you – ouch! You may think that you can contain each of these various things in its own neat box. Tamped down. Contained. Catalogued and under control. Handled. But believe me, you are much more messy and interconnected than you realize! Each and every one of those things I listed will add to the burden of anxiety that you are carrying. A strong and spiritual person will be able to carry on for a while without exhibiting any signs or symptoms, but deep underneath the surface that anxiety is simmering and bubbling. I know for a long time I was able to hold the lid down and not even consciously notice the pressure, but eventually those issues just boiled over and I was forced to deal with them.
And that is a good thing. The feelings and physical symptoms are the alarm bells that tell me “Something isn’t right!” “Maintenance Required!” On the one hand, fear is the most normal of human emotions. But on the other hand, we are not designed to carry that fear and anxiety with us throughout our lifetime. Our body can’t handle it. Our mind can’t handle it. Our heart can’t handle it. We are simply not wired that way. So we have to fight it!
Next week we will talk more about how we have fought anxiety, in ourselves and in our kids. But for now, I will challenge you to think about these words and how they affect you. We all experience and perceive fear in different ways.
Which of these types of fear are most detrimental to you? What physical effects does anxiety have for you? We’d love to hear from you…what questions do you have? Is this topic relevant to you? Feel free to leave comments that you would like to be public, or email us if you would like to keep it private. We would love to help, and we want our next posts to answer any question that you may face.
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Our Purposeful Life Anxiety Series:
Spirit, Soul, and Body
Wikipedia (Yes, I did cite Wikipedia)