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Mental Health

How To Overcome Anxiety

By March 14, 2024May 24th, 2024No Comments

How to Overcome Anxiety

Anxiety in Today's World

Recently, Forbes magazine referenced the Anxiety & Depression Association of America (that name alone sounds depressing), noting that over 40 million adults suffer from some type of anxiety disorder. That is nearly 20% of the population! Those ages 18 to 24 are more likely to experience symptoms of anxiety than older adults.

The Modern Causes of Anxiety

Those are alarming statistics. But you may have read that and thought, “Sounds about right.” Given the state of the world today, how can you not be anxious? Inflation, home prices, wars, elections, cultural dumpster fires, and social media pressures can all trigger anxiety. We can get anxious because something happens to us or we have made poor choices.

My Struggles with Anxiety

I have had my own experiences with anxiety. Mental health issues have popped up within my family over the years. I am all too familiar with the stress and weight of anxiety. It often causes me to slip into depression because I feel hopeless. When I think about being anxious, I think about the fear of the unknown. I think and think, and think, and overthink situations. The outcome is unknown, or worse yet, does not seem favorable. It boils down to this primary feeling – lack of control. I feel anxiety because I feel like I am out of control, have lost control, or have zero control.

Feeling Out of Control

I am out of control because things have gotten away from me. I have taken on more than I can handle. I have bitten off more than I can chew. I feel overwhelmed. I am doing lots of things, and I am doing them all poorly. I feel like I am trying to boil the ocean. I have lost control because my power to affect the outcome has become diminished or removed altogether. I make decisions, but they do not make a difference. I feel like I am pushing against a force too heavy for me to change.

Anxiety in Life

I have zero control because forces outside of my sphere of influence are wreaking havoc on my life. And, all of these inanimate objects have conspired to do this all at the same time. The washing machine breaks. The lawn mower locks up. I caught a nail in my tire in an unrepairable place, making me purchase four tires instead of a simple patch. The kids get sick – all at the same time. And as soon as I get them well, they get sick again. I can’t get them to stop licking grocery cart handles. I owe more on my taxes than I thought. The company is downsizing (or rightsizing, so they say so that they can feel better about their decision), and everyone is asked to take a pay cut. Not to mention, college for the kids is looming, I don’t have enough for retirement, and I’m pretty sure my house might fall into a sinkhole. I know I’m starting to sound nonsensical, but isn’t that what we do in our heads? We begin to go to the worst-case scenario.

Finding Hope Amidst Anxiety

Let us be honest – we really aren’t in control. Does that make you feel better? It doesn’t? Ok. Would it help if I said God is in control? That sounds like a cliche, you say? It is the truth, though. All of the cliches come into play.

“Let go, and let God.” “Jesus take the wheel.” “He’s got the whole world in His hands.” “God is in control.”

I know these sound hokey, but they are the truth. We just choose not to focus on their reality. Here is what I want to propose: Our anxiety is rooted in the simple fact that we place all of our hope in ourselves and not enough in Jesus. We get anxious when we start carrying weights we were never meant to carry. We start playing the role of God, and we are woefully inadequate at it.

Overcoming Anxiety with Faith: Fixing Our Eyes on Jesus

Here is some reality and hope: We were never meant to be in complete control. We cannot control what happens in the world, just like we can’t control the weather. We cannot control how people treat or react to us, just like we can’t control the waves of the sea.

I do know the one who does control the wind and the waves. His name is Jesus. Isaiah 26:3 states, “You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is fixed on you, because he trusts in you.” Where is our trust today? Where is our gaze today? Are our eyes fixed on the problems? Is our gaze fixed on the chaos? Are we trusting in our abilities to change something we cannot? Then anxiety will reign.

But once we fix our eyes on Jesus, trusting in His goodness and sovereignty, our anxiety slowly begins to take a back seat to peace. In those moments, we hear Jesus say to the chaos, “Peace, be still.” Now, though, I wonder—is he telling the waves to be still and have peace, or me?

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