Ask any room full of people if any of them suffer from anxiety and most, if not all, will raise their hands in agreement. I certainly would. Anxiety has a way of contaminating the mind with small issues like learning how to cook to bigger issues like whether or not we’ll lose a relationship. Big or small, we always find reason to worry. That’s anxiety for you, even if you’re a believer.
Though so many people suffer from anxiety, especially today, for a myriad of reasons, we need not suffer helplessly. Anxiety is a part of the human condition, and if, therefore, a part of our natural state, we can be confident there is a solution.
Many people before us have suffered from anxiety. Many people will after us. God knows our tendency to fear, and that’s why He said time and time again to do just the opposite – trust in Him. Let’s discuss seven ways anxiety dominates the Christian mind and find three solutions to this problem.
7 Ways Anxiety Dominates the Christian Mind
Irrational and Stifling Fear
Anxiety is characterized by both a fear of the future and the unknown. We don’t know what’s to come, and that lack of insight puts us on edge. We start panicking and predicting a bad outcome. Not just bad, but the worst. Our minds become filled with an irrational and stifling fear. Sometimes so much that we’re rendered indecisive and can’t help but think about anything except for the source of our fear.
Some bouts with fear can be stressful but don’t prevent us from going about our day, leading at least semi-productive lives. At other times, fear can be downright overwhelming, especially when coming from multiple places all at once. When this happens, depression can be the result. Rather than being productive at all, we find ourselves fatigued and unmotivated. Simple tasks like getting out of bed feel laborious.
Anxiety has a duplicitous effect on our sleep. For some, they sleep more often, relishing in the peace found while asleep, and their minds are not thinking. Other people struggle to sleep at all because they can’t quiet the incessant fears plaguing their heads.
With anxiety comes cynicism, and with cynicism, negative thoughts about ourselves and other people. Fear that we’ll “never be married” leads to complacency in bad habits. Fear that we’ll “never get that promotion anyway” leads to us acting in a way that ensures just that. We doubt any positive outcome because we’re so consumed by the negative.
Whether we fear being alone or actually are, anxiety exacerbates loneliness. We’re often led to believe that no one can understand the burden we’re carrying and that our situation will never change, unless it’s for the worst.
Doubting God’s Goodness
Anxious thoughts don’t just lead us to thinking poorly of other people or ourselves; they offer commentary on how we view God. Fearful thinking tells us that the problem is bigger than He is, that He may not even have our best interest in mind.
Too much fear and we stop seeing a way out, except out of life itself. Suicidal ideations are the result of a mind that sees no way forward, no way to overcome the adversity at hand. Anxiety simply doesn’t leave open the possibility of a positive outcome.
3 Solutions to Our Anxiety
As Christian writer Jennie Allen says in her book Get Out of Your Head, when those anxious thoughts appear in your mind, the first step is to catch the thought. By catching the thoughts, we can then interrogate them and test their validity. Do the fears stand up to truth and common sense?
Catching our thoughts isn’t easy, but vital in taking back our minds from fear. Once you catch your thought, here are three solutions to anxiety.
“For whatever was written in the past was written for our instruction, so that we may have hope through endurance and through the encouragement from the Scriptures.” (Romans 15:4)
Despite our constant struggle with anxiety, here’s one thing that’s certainly true, most often, our anxiety is incorrect. If we needed a number, that number would be 99%, maybe even 99.99%. There are very rare occasions when our anxious thoughts come to fruition, but most often, our fears are unsubstantiated. That’s one truth to keep in mind next time you feel anxious.
The other truth to remember is God’s Word. Anxiety often leads us to say or believe things that go against God’s nature. We may think thoughts like, “This situation will not work out because God is not for me.” This lie flies in the face of what Scripture says. God loves us, and is therefore dedicated to us. When anxiety starts playing its familiar tune, go to Scripture. See what verses you can find, speak, and recite to counteract those nagging negative thoughts.
Connection with God
“As my life was fading away, I remembered the Lord, and my prayer came to you, to your holy temple.” (Jonah 2:7)
“But I have trusted in your faithful love; my heart will rejoice in your deliverance. I will sing to the Lord because he has treated me generously.” (Psalm 13:5-6)
Aside from reading God’s Word, sometimes we need to get down on our knees and pray. Our connection with God helps restore the peace that anxiety so often takes away. One woman explained to me during a seminar at church that we should view anxious thoughts as “unused prayers.” We often have these anxious thoughts in our heads, and that’s where we often keep them. Sometimes we share with a friend or a counselor, but are we going to God as much or more as we do other people?
If God is our first love, then He should also be our first line of defense in this fight against anxiety.
Connection with Others
“Iron sharpens iron, and one person sharpens another.” (27:17)
Anxiety keeps us in our heads, which means that stepping outside of our heads is a good idea. In fact, when we’re anxious, we’re consumed by a problem, usually our own. This actually makes the problem bigger than what is warranted. Take the focus off of yourself and start looking at others. Get busy. Stay active. Find someone to serve and watch as the anxiety shrinks because you’re no longer giving it focus.
When we trust God, we hope. Hope leads to us predicting something good. A good outcome, a good future. Anxiety is a beast with a long, long tail. One that, if not properly maintained, grows to dominate the Christian mind. Faith becomes swallowed up. Hope becomes swallowed up.
Though our anxiety is at times great, our God is always greater. We simply have to recall that truth when anxiety comes back. Every time it comes back. Easier said than done, but with God, undoubtedly doable. Anchor yourself in truth today and put anxiety in its rightful place, outside of your head.
“The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears, and rescues them from all their troubles. The Lord is near the brokenhearted; he saves those crushed in spirit. One who is righteous has many adversities, but the Lord rescues him from them all. He protects all his bones; not one of them is broken.” (Psalm 34:17-20)
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Aaron D’Anthony Brown is a freelance writer, hip-hop dance teacher, and visual artist, living in Virginia. He currently contributes work to iBelieve, Crosswalk, and supports various clients through the platform Upwork. He’s an outside-the-box thinker with a penchant for challenging the status quo. Check out his short story “Serenity.”