Overcoming Anxiety: Some Lessons Learned

smiley-vector-illustration-surprised-face_7kXjTZ_LLast week, I had a fierce battle with anxiety. Happy to say, I emerged victorious! Eventually.

I knew from the start that I shouldn’t feel anxious, that it wasn’t helpful or productive. But even as I told myself not to worry, my stomach tied up tighter in knots. The thing is, telling yourself not to do something usually doesn’t work. You have to figure out what to do instead.

So here are the lessons I learned:

1. Remember.

Last Tuesday, God took me on a journey of remembering. Remembering key moments of my past. The moments I felt afraid, full of dread, unsafe, exposed, vulnerable. The moments I felt abandoned and alone, like no one understood how I felt, like I was incapable of explaining it to anyone. All those moments when He showed up––He always has.

I remembered His faithfulness. I remembered how tender His heart has always been toward me. And He told me that He still has the same heart for me now that He has always had.

Won’t you just let Me take care of all these things for you? I want to take of all your needs.

Eventually I said Yes.

2. Recognize.

It can be easy to overlook the blessings of today, to get so caught up in the uncertainties of the future, in your desires and fears, that you miss what is happening right now. When the Israelites got to the Promised Land, they didn’t even recognize it. I want to learn from their mistake.

Last Wednesday, I ended up Skyping with my sister for over five hours. (Wow, so good.) Near the beginning, the anxiety was churning inside me, so I asked her to pray for me. One part of her prayer struck me: “Thank you, God, for making Elizabeth’s life be all about you.”

I suddenly realized that the life I am living RIGHT NOW is the life I always wanted. This is it right here! I suddenly recognized it. This right here is a life of meaning, a life lived out of my comfort zone, a life completely surrendered to Jesus, spent loving others and changing lives.

3. Let go.

Remembering and recognizing made it possible for me to finally let go of control and trust God. (The thing I had wanted to do from the beginning, but felt incapable of.)

On Wednesday:

Me: I have to, have to go to this Leadership Retreat in November! There is no way I’m missing out on this crucial weekend to go on a field trip with my school that I am about to leave anyway! That makes no sense!

My sister: You need to LET GO. You made a commitment to your school that you can’t just toss aside. If God wants you at the retreat, He’ll make sure you’re there.

Right. That’s right. Of course that’s right. Breathe.

Me: I really want to go home for Christmas! But I don’t know if I can afford it. I guess I have some money, but what if I need that later, because I’m about to stop working and who knows what kind of living situation I’m going into and what kind of money I’ll need for that? But who knows when that will get figured out and meanwhile what should I do? Aren’t ticket prices going to go up the longer I wait to buy them?

God: Stop letting money control you. If you think it’s important to go home, then go. Use the money you have. That’s what money is for, to buy things. Not to be your security. That’s My job.

Okay. Yes. Money doesn’t control me. I have freedom to use the money I have. Yes.

dramatic sunbeams in the sea

And the crazy thing? The crazy thing that I should have totally expected? After I let go and decided to trust God, within 24 hours, both those situations were completely resolved. I didn’t have to hash out anything with my school. I didn’t have to use up my savings. But God made the way for me to go on the retreat and to go home. He provided.

God is a more than adequate provider. Opening those kind of doors is nothing for Him. But sometimes He waits to provide. He waits until our faith increases and grows stronger. Because our faith is more valuable to Him than anything else.



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Elizabeth holds to simple faith in a complex world. She values the beauty of the everyday and strives for vulnerability with other imperfect humans. She is currently pursuing her MDiv at Fuller Theological Seminary, so when she isn't busy writing academic papers, she is usually out enjoying the LA sunshine. She is constantly learning, laughing, and finding herself in awe of grace.

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