Don’t Manage Your Stress and Anxiety
I know it all. Really. Ask my wife and she will tell you that I act as if I do. Sometimes I recognize this as pride, but other times I chalk it up to confidence. I pride myself on how “in control” I am in life and how little stress affects me. Correction: I used to.
Stress is not something I deal with often, but when it hits, it packs a punch. I know that many of you know what I am writing about. About 8 years ago I started experiencing dark periods of depression. I didn’t know exactly what was happening as I was usually known for my care free, easy going nature. I found myself in seasons of loneliness, indifference, void of feeling any emotion. In these moments I found that even knowing the truth of the Word did not mean that my body was able to believe it. I needed more than intellectual ammo, I needed the Holy Spirit. The good news is that He is always there. I am learning more about who He is and how great He is by my confrontation with how weak and depraved I am. I was starting to figure this whole thing out. But….
Recently I had some questionable news come back on a lab report during my annual physical examination. The info I received was so cryptic that I turned to the source of all credible information, WebMD. I knew this was a bad idea, but I clicked away anyways. If you are not familiar with the magnitude of this mistake please take note. Any symptom that you have on this site will show that it could be a sign of death, doom, and destruction. Out of hundreds of possibilities of what my reading could mean, my mind stuck on the worst of them, incurable cancer.
Within minutes my body literally went into panic mode and I experienced my first anxiety attack ever. For days I had no appetite, could not sleep through the night, and I even started to exhibit real symptoms of disease. After numerous tests my doctor could only tell me that the original reading that started this anxiety was a bad reading and that everything seemed to be fine. Right, like I could really believe that.
Finally I allowed myself to surrender to the thought that I was fighting a spiritual battle with physical weapons. I was trying to find ways to reduce my level of stress and anxiety through breathing exercises, stretching, walking, even praying. If I did enough of those activities I believed that I could “manage” the anxiety away. As I was reading through my Bible I kept reading commands given by God through prophets in the OT.
I always thought of this phrase in Scripture as a kind suggestion. As I studied more I found that it was not a suggestion for managing problems in life, but a direct command. To go even further I found Scriptures that deal with anxiety and stress and found them to be commands as well. God does not command us to “fear not” and not to “be anxious” because he wants to help us experience a smoother ride in life. He commands it because it is not of Him. Because of this I was finally confronted with the fact that being apart from Him it did not proceed from faith, and therefore is SIN.
Paul writes in 2 Timothy 1:7 “for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.”
Fear and anxiety are not from God. Therefore my reaction to fear and anxiety in my life should not be to try and manage it, but to hit my face before my God and repent of it. How freeing this is. The burden of worry is lifted. The pain subsides. Please make note that not all of my physical ailments have gone away, but they are no longer my burden to carry. I no longer need to worry about them because they are in the hands of my loving God. My job in this season is to live out His calling in my life. His job in this season is to bring about His will. Peace comes from not trying to do His job.
Obedience is Mine. The Results are His.