Anxiety: A Secret Weapon
How anxiety can be used for good.
I’m a high school student. Most of you are currently in high school or have come and gone already but I’m sure you remember the struggle. The struggle of figuring out who we are, building relationships, coming into adulthood. It isn’t easy. It’s hectic. It’s messy. It’s draining and exhausting in every sense of the word. Not only are you dealing with other people constantly, teachers and peers alike, but you are dealing with worry of the unknown. Does that boy really like me? Are my friends genuine or do they have ulterior motives for associating with me? What college/university will I get into? What program should I choose? What job do I want to pursue? What if I make the wrong choice?
If you struggle with feelings of worry and anxiety then we have a lot in common. I’m not talking about the typical, “I’m worried about this test tomorrow,” I mean a wretched, paralyzing fear stemming from things that are out of your control. That’s what I mean. If you had asked me a year ago what anxiety has done in my life I would have told you that it robbed me of everything I had going; work opportunities, volunteer opportunities, friendships, musical performances, social engagements, etc.
Now if you’ve done your research and looked up bible verses pertaining to anxiety, some of these come up:
The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Deuteronomy 31:8
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9
Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7
Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?” Hebrews 13:5–6
And up until very recently I thought that anxieties were terrible things to have. I read these verses and felt ashamed. Why can’t I, for the life of me, give these anxieties up? I should be surrendering everything to God instead of fretting about situations. I thought, “I’m a bad Christian because of how anxious I am,” and I felt like the anxiety I was holding on to was pointless and foolish. But, do you want to know something cool? Anxiety and worry are legitimate emotions and do you know what emotions are? Gifts from God. Say what? Like Christmas?
Emotions are good. Even the unpleasant ones.
Life demands an understanding of emotions. They are closer to us than air. Emotions are as constant as the weather surrounding us. And, they are modeled after God. We are made in the image of God, an image that includes a vital aspect of emotion. Now what if I told you anxiety is our lifeline to a peace that passes understanding? God uses anxiety as a tool. He does not put it in place to hurt you or to taunt you. He puts it in place to teach you. He uses it to draw you closer to Him. Anxiety teaches us that it is evident we need God and that our limitations are our anchors to Him. The more I acknowledge my fragile, dependent life on Him, the closer I can become to Him.
Here’s an example:
Before: “Oh I’m feeling anxious God, please get rid of that feeling.”
After: “God, I realize I am anxious. Please help me because I can’t do this on my own.”
Isn’t it different???
Anxieties are not foolish.
If you’re feeling anxious about something, there’s a reason for it. Anxieties are not foolish, ignoring them is. Once you address those fears, you become better enabled to make decisions regarding them. You are not wrong for feeling anxious. God calls us to Him when we feel anxious. Instead of letting those negative feelings manifest inside us, He calls us to pray. The peace of God comes after we talk to Him. God will give us peace when we come to Him asking for what we need, thankful for who He is and trusting in Him.
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard you hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:4–7
So now I’m no longer anxious but how do I keep it that way?
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me — put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:8–9
God says to focus on godly things. The human brain cannot effectively concentrate on more than one thing at a time. So, if you are concentrating on things that bring glory to God, He will guard your heart and it’s likely you will feel less anxious about decisions and about your life.