To be honest, there is very little in this blog that is original to me. However, I wanted to share with you what God is actively doing in my life through His Word in the hope that it might help some of you as well.
In my experience, anxiety is that little gnat of a thought that buzzes around in my brain, constantly pestering me with concern and preventing me from being present in the moment or productive.
I’m constantly swatting at it and shooing it away…and yet comes back over and over again.
It’s a sadly hilarious how this routine plays out during my “quiet time.” In those moments, I’m trying to focus on what I’m reading or praying and yet the gnat is there distracting me and plaguing me with its annoying and unwanted weight.
I tend to tell the gnat, “not now! I’m spending time with the Lord. I will deal with you later.” And yet the anxiety gnat doesn’t respect my wishes by giving me some temporary relief. In fact, it feels like the gnat grows larger and louder!
It’s exhausting and frustrating. I typically end up just being frustrated with myself. Frustrated that I have “failed.” I know that I’m not supposed to be anxious and yet, I can’t make it go away. Fail.
So, I’ve decided to start memorizing and meditating on Philippians 4:4-9:
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your graciousness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Don’t worry about anything but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses every thought, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable — if there is any moral excellence and if there is any praise — dwell on these things. Do what you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.
From this passage I’ve gleaned two thing that are helping me fight anxiety and gain peace:
1. Talk to God about the gnat
I realize that this may be obvious and I’m a stupid dummy, but seriously, how often do YOU really talk to God about all the things you worry about throughout your day? Maybe you’re doing awesome and you talk with God about everything, or maybe you’re more like me and you’d like to do that, but the reality is that there are many things left out of the conversation.
Often, I approach my time with the Lord thinking, “this is my time to think about Him! This is my time to learn something new and be amazed and filled. I don’t want to spend/waste my time thinking or talking about that dumb ole’ gnat.”
However, like I mentioned before, ignoring the gnat only seems to make it angrier, louder, and bigger. Though I wish I were a better human being, I’m not. I can’t focus on the things I WANT to focus on with the gnat in the room. I’m limited and unable to the see the glory of my God when I’m distracted by anxieties, worries and concerns.
Thankfully, I’m constantly learning how much grace is extended to me by the Lord. He knows I’m limited and He’s not expecting me to muscle my way through. He just wants me to go ahead and talk to Him about it.
I heard a pastor recently talk about vs. 6 and he said that the wording “let your requests be made known to God” in the Greek, implies a buoy-like effect taking place. Meaning, our anxieties, like buoys, are floating to the surface anyway. So there is no need to shove them down under the water. Go ahead and let them rise to the top! Let them be made known to your Father.
He even encouraged us to go ahead and “let the crazy out.” Simply meaning, don’t try too hard to calculate what you are going to say in prayer. Just be honest. You don’t have to have it figured out yet. You don’t have to know what is right yet. You don’t even have to know what you want yet. Just talk with Him about what’s bugging you.
I’ve been making a point to do this before I start reading the Word and if I’m reading and a gnat buzzes into my brain, I’ve been learning to just stop and deal with the gnat.
Nothing is usually “solved” in those moments, however I continue to experience the promise of Philippians 4:7 over and over again.
When I talk to Him about the gnat, there is suddenly a peace that surpasses every thought. My heart and mind are protected from every thought that comes to stir up turmoil and wage war.
By acknowledging the gnat with the Lord, I realize over and over again that He is the biggest one in the room. Though the circumstance that produced the gnat of anxiety might still be there, the anxiety has lost its power over me.
2. Apply some positive thinking
I’ve found the second section to be especially helpful when my anxieties include hurt from or frustrations with other people.
What is true? I’ve got my fears and anxieties, but are they based on what is actually true or based on what I’m afraid is true? Isn’t this realm of imagination where Satan can slip in and get us the most? That’s what happens to me. What do I KNOW to be the case?
What is honorable and just? What’s right in this situation based on what I know to be true?
What is pure, lovely and commendable? What rocks about so-so? What’s awesome about them? What in my life is good and pure and wonderful? What can I be thankful for? What can I go and encourage or praise in someone else?
That kind of thinking just really helps me get out of my own head and back into reality. It helps me realize that I’m a fool for maximizing the negative and minimizing the positive things in my life because it makes me anxious and discontent. I have to be proactive about doing just the opposite of my fleshy tendency. I have to be proactive about savoring the positives in my life by being thankful and then minimize the negative by only giving them the time that is necessary.
I’m not a pro at this, I’m just learning like the rest of you. I can say though that memorizing, mediating on, and applying this scripture to my life has been healing and incredibly helpful for fighting off anxiety and fear. I’m hoping and praying it will help you do the same.