Dealing with Anxiety1
I read an article today that was originally published in "Real Simple" magazine and reposted on FoxNews.com. The title of the article was, "10 Ways to Cope with Anxiety." Here are the 10 steps:
1. Repeat your worry until you’re bored silly.
2. Make it worse.
3. Don’t fight the craziness.
4. Recognize false alarms.
5. Turn your anxiety into a movie.
6. Set aside worry time.
7. Take your hand off the horn.
8. Breathe it out.
9. Make peace with time.
10. Don’t let your worries stop you from living your life.
Really! This is the best advice the world has to offer on how to handle anxiety. Everyone of these 10 steps begins with a command! Do, don't, think, stop, etc. For someone who is dealing with anxiety, piling on more things to do, more imperatives, doesn't seem to me to be very helpful. It just puts more pressure on the person to perform, it is "psychological legalism." Did I just coin a phrase? Some of these steps may provide some temporary relief, but my guess is, that it will be very temporary.
The common factor between all these principles is the assumption that we possess the resources within ourselves to deal with our own anxiety. People feel anxious for exactly the opposite reason. They don't feel like the have the resources to deal with their problems! So they are buffeted by anxiety.
The Bible's answer to anxiety is to turn to God in faith and through prayer unburden our unbearable burdens on Him. (Phil. 4:6-7) He certainly can handle our anxiety and sovereigly over-rule our daunting circumstances. Jesus taught us to prioritize God's Kingdom, to place His will and His glory above all other things in our lives and trust God to provide all that we need. (Matt. 6:33) Jesus points out the futility of anxiety because of human impotency:
““Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?” (Matthew 6:25–27 ESV)
Saying this is one thing, believing it another, doing it in the midst of overwhelming circumstances is yet another step of faith. At the end of the day, our theology, what we know to be true about God, will determine how we handle the shifting circumstances of life. It is impossible to trust a God you do not know.