How Can I Stop Being Anxious?

She cornered me in the hallway. “Ok, so I agree with you that being anxious should not be part of my identity, but I am so lost. Could you possibly give some basic help – some tools to get me on the right track on dealing with my anxieties?”

Knowing what we should do … and actually doing it … are two very different things. I think, for the most part, we usually know what we should do, but putting feet to that knowledge and becoming a ‘doer of the Word’ is a bit more challenging.

Root Check

Although you may dislike the word repentance, that is what is necessary to pull up the weeds of anxiety from the roots and to replace them with trust in God.

“Critical to your complete change is your agreement with God that anxious thoughts are sinful! You must see them as a cancerous toxin fully enveloping and choking out all your profitable thoughts and relationships.”

John and Janie Street, The Biblical Counseling Guide for Women

There are two basic root systems that spawn the weeds of anxious thoughts. The first is UNBELIEF; put inversely, the belief that God is not faithful – He is not here, He does not care, He is busy elsewhere, He is not in control, or He is in control and taking my situation the way I do not like. I don’t trust that He is really going to take care of the problem or give me the grace to get through it. I will be hurt needlessly.

The second root is a love of CONTROL. Here in Africa, most people are used to things being delayed or not working or being closed or cancelled. It builds a resignation into your soul – life is beyond my control, so I will not get stressed about these things but will wait and keep trying.

Others puff and flutter and ask for a supervisor and demand explanations because they have places to be. They whirl about in disbelief because they love control and are being denied that control … because the power is out … again. They have a very keen and precise sense of order, and neither God nor man seem to live up to that standard. They feel that they know better.

These are the two roots of anxiety. When we take responsibility for sin and seek God’s forgiveness, there is a clean slate to begin to build correct thought patterns. If we become convinced of God’s faithfulness to us and His meticulous control over our circumstances, we are spraying Round-Up on those weeds.

Here are 10 Bible verses to look up on God’s faithfulness:

  • I Corinthians 10:13
  • I John 1:9
  • 2 Thessalonians 3:3
  • 2 Timothy 2:13
  • Hebrews 10:23
  • I Peter 4:19
  • Psalm 9:12
  • Psalm 86:5, 15
  • Ephesians 2:4-9
  • I Thessalonians 5:23-24

God is God, and God is Good, and God is Good at being God.

When the Weeds Sprout

To begin with, ask yourself if you really want to get rid of your anxiety? Is there a small chance that you don’t? I know it sounds ridiculous to say that you enjoy your sin, but be brutally honest and answer it. Do you love control? Do you love the attention of others that you get by complaining about your difficulties?

That is not ok. It is not excusable.

So… learn to read yourself when you are beginning to fall into the anxiety trap. Think of an alarm going off.

1, 2, 3 Plan

  • 1st Time: The first time you see the anxiety sprout, look for a new verse on anxiety in the Scripture and write it out on a card.
  • 2nd Time: The second time you sense you see anxiety popping up, sing a chorus of thankful worship to the Lord. If you can’t sing, play it out loudly for you to hear.
  • 3rd Time: The third time you catch yourself watching the weeds, pray about a person that you know who is going through a hard time and send them a text or note.

If you get to a 4th time, start the first one over again. This will break the anxiety habit faster than you think. You will begin to grow in knowledge of Scripture verses on anxiety, in singing worship choruses to the Lord and in compassion for others. Selfish anxiety will have to move out of the way; you are overcoming evil with good. It may take a while, but slowly anxiety has to go.

Cast It

Some situations cause us serious concern. Paul, who wrote “don’t be anxious about anything” also confessed that he daily felt anxiety for the churches (same Greek word). So what do we do if any objective person would have concern, or if one of those stress-free easy-going people would even be concerned?

King David wrote, “Cast your burden on the Lord and He will sustain you” (Ps. 55:22). In I Peter 5:7, Peter exhorts us to cast our anxieties on the Lord because He cares for us. Have you ever thought about the concept that in order for you to cast something, you have to RELEASE it? The word means to hurl, or throw, of if it is very heavy, to roll.

Those who are "casters" - whether fishermen casting a line or athletes throwing a javelin - must train themselves.  "Train yourself for godliness" (I Timothy 4:7b).  

Learn to fight the anxious tendencies by believing in God's faithful character, yielding to His control, replacing anxious thoughts with righteous activity, throwing your problems on God's lap, and thinking thanks about everything from small to great.

“Worrying is carrying tomorrow’s load with today’s strength – carrying two days at once. It is moving into tomorrow ahead of time. Worrying doesn’t empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength.” ― Corrie Ten Boom

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