Anxiety, Part 3: Putting Irrational Anxiety on the Defensive
Review: Rational Anxiety
In Rational anxiety, we learned that
- When you know the power that you have through Christ, there is no longer any reason to be afraid.
- When you understand what kind of Father we have, there is no longer any reason to worry about what might happen to us.
- When you understand what kind of Future we have, there is no longer any reason to worry about what might happen to our temporary stuff.
That ‘mental reframing’ involves switching from logical anxiety to logical peace, based on the Truth. Today we will talk about illogical anxiety.
Illogical anxiety presents a different challenge to me because it is not based on a rational issue. This is the type of anxiety that I mainly struggle with…if you were to ask me why I’m nervous I can’t even tell you. Because I’m not nervous, really. But my body is, for some reason.
It didn’t help very much to read about Scriptures that say to “not worry about what you will wear and instead seek first the Kingdom of God” because I already knew that. I mean, I’ve memorized the verses and really believe them. Of course, having an understanding of that truth was indeed the first step, but I needed something more to fight these irrational fears.
Over time my periods of being anxious had become more frequent, and the nausea that came along with the anxiety had put a damper on several otherwise fun evenings. Eventually I reached the point where I said ‘Enough is Enough!’ and started fighting.
The Cure: Search For the Root and Fight!
Roots Run Deep
What is the root of the anxiety? Is there some lie you are believing, or something that hurt you long ago? Maybe a sin that you have allowed to run rampant in your life. If that is the case, repentance is potentially the first step to freedom. Chances are pretty good that deep down, your anxiety has a root that is connected to a sin of some kind. I’m not saying that I am judging you because you are anxious. I’m saying that for many of us there is a sin of some sort, however small, that allows anxiety to hold us back. That gives anxiety a ‘foothold.’ (After all, Paul calls righteousness our breastplate. If you go to battle without that in place, you are pretty vulnerable to attack! Repentance allows us to take on Christ’s righteousness. But more on the spiritual armor another day.)
For me, one of the roots that powerfully created anxiety was the root of people-pleasing. And even though that is not one of the 7 deadly sins, it still has a root of selfishness and self-centeredness – “What do they think about me?” So I repented of that sin, and asked God to help me get rid of it. Another root could be rational anxiety that you have stuffed down and not dealt with. My anxiety was at its worst when I was involved with several separate stressful events. In retrospect it is no surprise that I was feeling anxious, given all that I was handling. However, at the time I just took it all in stride and was unaffected by it…or so I thought! But I forgot that even if I push the stress and conflict down out of my mind it is still there, below the surface. Since we are spirit, soul and body it is impossible to keep them all compartmentalized and my body was affected.
To summarize: seek out the root of the irrational anxiety. You may not get an answer or a lightbulb ‘ah-ha’ moment right away, but let it simmer on the back burner of your mind and heart. Sometimes it takes time.
Then you need to attack. The best way is to use Bible verses designed for that purpose. But first you need to renew your mind. Many of us pray this kind of prayer: “Dear Jesus, please take away my anxiety. If you want. If not, that’s cool too.” Kind of like the Red-Green Man Prayer. Nothing wrong with it, but not very powerful. The prayers that I see in the Gospels and in Acts display power. They possess authority. The prayers of Jesus and his disciples speak to the mountain, they command the wind and the waves and the lame men and the blind eyes and the dead girl and the possessed and the fig tree. In the words of one philosopher, they Git-R-Done.
So, here is how I talk to my anxiety:
“Anxiety, I command you to leave me alone. Body, be healed in Jesus name. Stomach, you will be calm. Nausea – go away. I command every chemical and neurotransmitter to function correctly. All Jesus’ authority has been delegated to me. I have the powerful Spirit inside me, and through His power I carry out God’s work. Jesus, thank You that You suffered to relieve my suffering. By Your stripes, I am healed. I believe it and I want to receive it. I confidently command my body to do God’s will. I want Your Kingdom and Your will to be in effect, in this world. I speak against any lie that I am believing, and anything that I am afraid of. I am more than a conqueror in Christ. If my God is for me, who can be against me? What do I have to fear? Nothing.”
This was definitely a change of mindset for me, and it may be for you as well. I became convinced that I should follow the examples of the bold prayers that we read in the Gospels and Acts, and it has changed the way I think about anxiety and other problems.
I started with this part of the fight because it is most important. The next post will outline several other tips for fighting anxiety.
What tips do you have that you can share with us? We’d love to hear them!
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