Being rid of anxiety and building trust, Part 2-
What are you anxious about right now? There is always something to be overwhelmed about or stressed over. Anxiety can seem like it is here to stay, and we must just learn to suck it up! We are good at finding some way to temporarily relieve our anxiety, or mask it. As I mentioned last time, it is like lighting a nicely scented candle to cover up an unpleasant odor- yet the odor remains. Unfortunately, the many ways we relieve our anxiety are not so pleasant. Even so, there is hope. For true peace can be found through trust.
There are “tools” I developed early on to deal with my anxiety. When I was under extreme stress, I would often turn to my emotions or control. I would become depressed and cry, which seemed to temporarily help. I would also attempt to control my schedule, my time, and others. Often this was through compulsive thinking, working harder, or planning more. I would try to work things out over and over in my mind until I felt like it was manageable. If I had a presentation in front of others, I can’t tell you how many times I would go over it– to assure I knew it perfectly. I attempted to deal with the anxiety, yet, these “tools” did not fix things, or give me peace.
How do you deal with anxiety? What is your “go-to” when you are stressed or overwhelmed? Of course, food is a common thing we turn to– eating more or eating less. Working harder and longer hours often seem like the answer. Since it seems like that is what “we are suppose to do,” we don’t think twice about overworking, overcommitting, or overspending. I know for many people, they get into the habit of turning to images on the internet, or spending countless hours online. There are so many thing our flesh wants to turn to, yet each are a false substitution for building trust. Anxiety is in direct opposition to trust.
My hope is to become like a baby who can be at peace, fully trusting in her mother’s arms. There is not an easy remedy, but we must remember that the tools and habits we develop don’t just affect us, but they affect our friends, our family, our future spouses, and our community. Wouldn’t it be better to become a person of trust? Only trust can begin to rid us of anxiety. I do know this: now is the time to begin being rid of it. For the patterns of yesterday affect today. The new patterns we make today, affect tomorrow. I want to have new patterns. How about you?
The birds and the… flowers
This is the best time in College Station to be outside (sorry, people with allergies), for the high today was 75 degrees– perfect! I love to be outside and take advantage of this time! Two things I notice, is the amount of birds flying about and the vast array of beautiful flowers. It is hard to miss them. This Spring I spotted baby cardinals learning to fly. It was so fun to see them naively hop around on the ground, fluttering here and there. I think they were making their parents a little nervous as they tried to corral them. I loved, not only how they constantly watched over them, but also, how even the dad would feed them. He would fly away and soon come back with some little tasty bug to put in the little fellow’s beak. These birds were cared for, fed, and clothed with beautiful feathers. None of them had their calendar out trying to figure out a feeding schedule. They were not fretting over where the next bug or worm would come from. They just lived.
As I open my gate to the field behind my house there is an array of wildflowers. I love to find and collect the different ones. Each year, they return around the same time; and each year, I am in awe of their beauty. They are a free gift that I get to enjoy. They gently blow in the breeze and brighten the dull surroundings. I have no thought or worry as to whether they will return again next year. There is no fretting over if there will be a shortage of beautiful petals. No, they just bloom. It is short lived, but they faithfully share their beauty with the rest of us each and every year.
One of my “go to verses” for anxiety is this-
“Trust in The Lord and do good; dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness.” Psalm37:3
To be rid of anxiety, I need to cultivate trust in my life. This does not happen overnight, but it is something grown and cultivated over time. I need to make trust deposits that grow into a bigger investment in time. Today was transformed by yesterday. So how do we create a new tomorrow? We create a new tomorrow by trusting God today.
- I need to learn to “dwell” in today, where God has me. I want to learn to live and be in this day– instead of allowing the “what if’s” to dictate and stress me.
- This verse also says to, “cultivate faithfulness.” This implies it is a work that takes time. We need new tools for faithfulness, so that tomorrow we are also trusting God as we learn to trust God with this day.
“But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” Matthew 6:33
- The birds and flowers are a reminder from God to us that He can be trusted today.
Practices for dwelling in today
Two questions to ask
Who holds my time?
- Busyness is one of the enemies of peace and effectiveness. It may take some time to rework a schedule, and eliminate some activity, but it may be worth it. By reducing commitments, the hope is to be able to give more
Who is in control? Will He take care of me?
- Taking time for rest or adopting a “sabbath,” a period of time for rest, gives time to be restored and refreshed. Is a tangible way to remember that God is in control and I can trust Him with my time. He will take care of me.
Learning ‘trust” is the solution
Remember continually what God says is true about trust. We may ask, is time in God’s word really valuable? Will it really shape me and make a difference? The word is vital for growing our trust. The following are some of my favorite verses I have memorized to help me learn to trust and to dwell in today.
- Trust in The Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5,6
- Casting all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you. 1Peter 5:6,7
- Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
- Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard you hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6.7
I like to actually practice “casting” my anxieties. I will collect rocks and then cast them, one by one, into a pond or creek. With each “cast” I name a stress, a request or anxiety and give it to the Lord. It is a prayerful way to actively give each care to the Lord. We have a small collection of rocks from travels that reminds me to “cast my anxieties on Him.”
Confess your “tools” of coping with anxiety to another person. Even though this is towards the end of this post, it should be a first step for disabling the coping tools. Maybe since it is listed last, it will be remembered first! We are good at handling things “on our own,” but really, in beginning to rid ourselves of anxiety we need the community of others and at least one other to confess it to. This may seem strange, but really God has made us this way– to need each other and not be self-sufficient.
Building new habits of trust helps us to rid ourselves of anxiety. We want live each day, developing faithfulness, and building trust along the way. Today leaves deposits in tomorrow and makes a difference for the future.
Next time: Looking at fear- the heart of anxiety, and learning “manna living.”