I’ve been fighting a battle this month.
Towards the middle of the month, I found myself looking up to the sky and saying out loud:
“What a way to start the year, huh, Jesus?”
See, the battle I’ve been fighting is one that countless of others are battling on the daily. It’s the battle that I have been asked repeatedly by so many of you for help on, for prayer, for advice on how to get through it, and my heart has received a strong dose of empathy.
It’s a battle that is more than just physical, because I know that the enemy prowls around like a lion, seeking those he can devour (1 Peter 5:8).
It’s a battle that I fully believe is an intense spiritual battle that affects us physically.
So, what was it? Anxiety.
Are you shocked? I was. Because one of the biggest lies that people tend to believe about Christians—whether they are believers or not—is that if we’re struggling with anxiety, we just don’t trust Jesus enough.
But that’s not true. And all that lie does is make you feel guilty, which adds to the stress.
I believe anxiety is a tool the enemy uses to keep us from feeling close to Jesus, to keep us frozen in place instead of pursuing Him.
But I also believe that it is a tool the enemy uses to stop us from sharing about His love with everyone else because we are too busy worrying about ourselves.
And I’ve learned, first hand, just how powerful that tool truly is.
Anxiety is an epidemic in our world today. It’s heartbreaking. And what’s worse is, a lot of people try to battle it completely on their own. They attempt to mask what they’re going through, too worried about what other people are going to think of them.
I know, because you’ve told me. And my heart breaks as I hurry to respond for you to start talking to someone you trust.
But if there is one thing that I’ve taken away this past month, it’s that I can’t do it on my own- and I shouldn’t.
This month, I really pressed into Jesus, abided in Him, and I fought this battle WITH Him every single step of the way.
I will continue to fight this battle WITH Him, taking every anxious thought captive and laying it down at His feet.
As much as I would love to say it’s over, that I’m no longer anxious, that the things I practiced this month has walked me through the valley of anxiety and I’m done with it, it’s not true. In fact, I’m writing this after just dealing with a truly difficult day. Because anxiety can creep up when you least expect it to.
And if I’m unprepared to fight it, it can be debilitating.
So, I want to share five things that I’ve turned to this past month when the anxiety was doing its best to keep me down.
Before I go any further, though, I need to give this disclaimer:
I’m NOT a doctor or a licensed therapist. What I share with you here is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you continuously struggle with anxiety, please sweet friend, speak to your pastor and see a doctor.
You ready? I pray with everything in me that these will be helpful weapons in your battle, sweet friend.
- Battle WITH Jesus – I have absolutely no idea how I would have gotten through this month without continually speaking with Him. And when I mean speaking with Him, I’m talking about full on conversations with Him throughout the day. I cried, I yelled, I questioned, but I never stopped talking to Him, asking Him for His healing, seeking Him, pursuing Him. This was a battle I fought WITH Jesus right by my side, because no matter what was going on, I begged that He never leave me and He didn’t. In ways I can’t even begin to describe, He showed up, and I felt His presence, even if it was just for a moment.
- Worship Music – I listened continuously to worship music. From the moment I woke up to the moment I went to bed, I listened to music that reminded me of how powerful our God is, that pressed He sits on the throne, who I am because of Him, and just how strong His love is for me. Over and over and over again, I just let the music and the words pour over my heart. One song in particular that I played when I was extremely anxious was Abide by Kingdom Culture Worship. It calmed my heart, mind, and soul- every single time. The other song I played when fear crept in was Francesca Battistelli’s “Break Up Song”. It was a reminder that fear is not welcome in my story, no matter how much it tried to take over.
- Audible Bible – I never thought I would like listening to someone read me the bible, but I was wrong. Whenever I am getting anxious, I play the Bible on my phone and let truth be read over me. It’s amazing just how much better I can feel after listening to a passage of scripture. Also, it’s been helping me get through the Old Testament a lot easier since I’m listening to the names of descendants instead of trying to pronounce them myself.
- Claiming Truth Out Loud – I usually write the truths on my mirror to read them every morning, but this month I repeated them out loud, whenever I started to feel that anxiety bubble up. Here are some of my favorite truths, I would continuously speak out loud :
- For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. -2 Timothy 1:7 (NKJV)
- Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. -Philippians 4:6 (NIV)
- Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’ -Isaiah 41:10 (ESV)
- Remind me You are NOT finished yet, Jesus. You will use this for GOOD.
- For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. -Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)
- There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. -1 John 4:18 (NIV)
- Let Others In – I tried to battle it by myself the first couple weeks, friend. Just me and Jesus. Why? Because I thought I was crazy and I didn’t want them to think I was too. I thought there was absolutely no reason for me to be anxious and that I could get through this with Jesus. But as the days kept going that had me covered in anxiety, I realized that I couldn’t do this with just me. So, I started telling people one by one that I was struggling, that I needed prayers, and I asked for advice from those who had gone before me. And do you know what happened? I received this picture in my mind of a battlefield where I used to stand alone, struggling to ward off the enemy, suddenly filled with people fighting alongside me, conquering the enemy, because he doesn’t stand a chance against truth.
And that’s the biggest weapon you can use to fight this battle friend: SPEAK TRUTH.
Remember the story about Jesus fasting for 40 days and then battling the enemy? How did He win? Speaking truth- out loud. (You can read the story in Matthew 4:1-11.)
I know that this battle seems never ending, because that’s the way I feel. But it’s also why I want to implore you: please don’t give up. When it seems too heavy and you’re not sure what to do next, go speak to your pastor, make an appointment to see a doctor.
As always, I’m praying for you. I may not know you by name, I may not ever meet you face to face, but I’m praying for you. I’m praying that Jesus will cover you with His truth. I’m praying that you will continue to seek Him out and pursue after Him. I’m praying that you’ll burrow in close to Him. And the more that you choose to abide in Him, you’ll begin to see that He’s right there, by your side. He’s got you, and He won’t ever let you go.
P.S. I know that we are all in different stages of life. Because of that, I have a couple of trusted family and friends who have also battled anxiety in different stages of life that will be writing their story and how they conquered it with Jesus. My prayer is that no matter which stage of life you are in, there will be something here for you to be encouraged and uplifted. xo, j