Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Coping with Anxiety through Faith

Life is tricky, unpredictable, full of ups and downs, joys and sorrows, surprises both positive and negative, and futures often uncertain at best. As a result, we all suffer from anxiety ... regularly. Even with the wonderful advice in Matthew 6:25-34 about not worrying because God is there with you always and cares for you, we are anxious, we are afraid, we worry. To define our terms: while fear is focused on a specific, identifiable danger, anxiety is unfocused, vague, and even lacking in any specific danger upon which to fix that anxious state. Both conditions can leave us feeling equally miserable. Normal anxiety revolves around the everyday uncertainties of life and can even spur us to grow in spiritual maturity. That form of anxiety can prod us forward, whether we like it or not. However, out of control anxiety leads to a level of anxiousness that is way out of proportion to the problem, is battled to be repressed, and leaves us feeling isolated and could cause us to employ inappropriate, flight, fight, or freeze defense mechanisms. In other words, anxiety unleashed will make us miserable.

Our faith in God helps us to face our anxieties, come to grips with them, and move through them. We turn to God for courage and strength. We remember that God promises to be with us always ... and God always keeps God's promises.God's love, grace, mercy, and presence are with us. From Jesus' parable of the prodigal son, we learn that God, like the father in the story, is looking for us to return to God's loving embrace when we make mistakes and get far off course. Take a look at Luke 15:11-32 and really take that parable to heart. See if that doesn't help reduce anxiety.

God also doesn't want us to go through our lives and our challenges alone. Seek out others who can help you when you are struggling with anxiety. Seek people of faith you can trust who can help you face your anxieties and who will remind you that you are not alone.

I also recommend that anxious readers turn to Brian D. McLaren's book Naked Spirituality and take a look at pages 115-117. There we find a valuable method for reframing our anxieties and renaming our needs.

God bless you and please know that you are not alone in your anxieties.

If you are anywhere near Lansdowne, Pennsylvania, and are seeking a caring community who can help you face those anxieties, please join us any Sunday. We are here to help. 

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