Dear World Changer,
We are starting an OVERCOMING series on the blog! We’re touching on topics such as overcoming anxiety, overcoming eating disorders, overcoming depression, overcoming low self-esteem and so on! Your leaders have SLAYED these topics and I am beyond excited to share all the wisdom with you!
Here’s the first of our series….overcoming anxiety written by our own Jenny!
Let’s talk about that feeling. That feeling of intense fear, that latches on to our hearts and our minds. It can’t be talked away, won’t be shaken off, and is heavier than a ton of bricks. It sits on our chests, in our guts, completely psycho-analyzing any and every situation that we encounter.
I’m talking about anxiety.
I wrote the following post within the past year, on my own blog, as I reflected on my own personal struggle with anxiety. For about 8 to10 years, I was crippled by anxiety. It showed up over a variety of areas, but was mainly surrounding my future. I’m talking anywhere from days in the future, to years in the future. If I hadn’t experienced it yet, it was going to be something that daunted me. Anxiety limited my life, my boldness, to the point where I started missing out on the excitement and beauty that life had to offer.
For me, this changed completely on the first night of youth convention back in May 2016. Jesus showed up to me in a fresh new way, as the Prince of Peace, and I experienced full breaking off of my anxiousness. I want to share with you, World Changer, four things that I learned about the true character of anxiety, as well as what the Lord taught me about maintaining and thriving in a peace that passes all understanding!
Four Characteristics of Anxiety…
- Anxiety is IRRATIONAL
It is lacking in truth, value, and goodness, yet has an amazingly strong grip. Yes, it can be based on, or stemming from, something that has occurred in our lives, but it is an aggressive, magnified, twisted version of that truth. Another thing that I found aggravated the anxiety I faced was THE Truth. Our battle is not against any mere human in this world, but against the devil and his demons. And the devil knows that Word. Think about it. If he didn’t, how could he get us to stumble? How could he twist anything to deceive us into sinful living? How did he know the Truth when he tempted Jesus in the desert? The devil is the master of twisting truth until we are so confused we believe him. For me, this was related to fellowship. Something Jesus practiced and desires for us is fellowship. Coming together, breaking bread, sharing both time and thought. It is a beautiful thing, and something we should practice and followers of Christ. But, the devil saw something that happened in my life when I was fellowshipping, and knew that Jesus wants me to connect, and so he went after my peace when it came to fellowship. I would often become paralyzed when the opportunity for fellowship and connection arose. It got to the point, however, that I became angry at the devil for the foothold he had in my life, and I believe that anger helped get me to the point where I wanted none of the anxiety any more. And believe me, get that “Shackles” by MaryMary playing, have yourself a little “stomp on the devil” party every now and again, and you’ll feel pretty free!
- Anxiety is PERSONAL
If someone has encountered/ is encountering anxiety, I am able to empathize with their battle, but when it comes to the struggles they are specifically facing, I may not be able to understand/ make sense of their specific struggle. Because just like humans, anxiety is unique. I have felt, and have talked to people who also experienced, the guilt, confusion, shame, and embarrassment that comes when you don’t understand why you are anxious about something that everyone else seems cool with. Like why am I anxious about socializing with people over a meal? I shouldn’t be. I must be weird or deeply broken in some way. NO. Get out of that cycle. It is not true and it leads to destruction. Yes, people may not be anxious about something that you are anxious about, and yes, maybe your anxiety is irrational, but you shouldn’t be embarrassed about it. Speaking from personal experience, stuffing down anxiety only works for so long. After a while, you will realize you have missed out on a ton, or have fallen so deeply into letting yourself be fearful that your heart is nothing but clenched and scared at all times. Your story, your struggle, is going to help someone. I promise. Mine has, and I only consider myself to be free for a year!
- Anxiety is COMFORTABLE
Moral Revolution, an amazing organization pursuing purity in our generation, says it best:
“The process of getting free often seems harder than slavery, which is why so many people stay in bondage.”
In a weird way, the iron grip that anxiety possesses in lives becomes a resting place, a source of comfort, even if your soul is weary and your heart is distressed. Relying on excuses and “the norm” is often easier than stepping into freedom and LIFE. I can tell you, thoughts would go through my head like: “What if more is expected of me?” “What if I get sick?” “What if life without anxiety is scary?” . But all those “what ifs” were simply excuses, because given the option of the known normal or the unknown freedom, I wanted nothing else but to stay in the known, even if it was slowly breaking my soul. Let me tell you, that the moment you decide to throw off the lie that the freedom waiting on the other side of your comfort zone is worse than the anxiety, your life will open up. Peace will flood in, opportunity will sprout, and joy will flourish. Not to say you won’t have moments of the old habits, because they will be hard to break, but your prison cell (let’s just call it for what it is) will become more and more distant every single day.
- Anxiety is NOT YOU
It is so easy, when you have been battling something for so long, to identify as your struggle. To say “I am anxious” rather than “I am struggling/battling/walking through anxiety”. Because you are not, at your core, anxiety. You are you. You are His. You are fearfully and wonderfully made. You were together by a caring Father, created with purpose, for a purpose. And to identify as your struggle is to give the devil too much credit. I saw a video recently on Facebook that talked about depression, but I equated what the person was saying to anxiety. He compared us to the sky, and [anxiety] to clouds. Even though clouds are in the sky, can at times cover the sky, and pass through the sky, the clouds are NOT the sky. In the same way, anxiety can come and go. It can stay for what seems like forever, or creep back in after a long period of clarity, but it always comes and goes. You are NOT what you face. If you allow it, what you face can refine, strengthen, and change you for the better, but it will never BE you.
Now, I mentioned earlier that the Lord taught me about how peace, pure and true and lasting peace, is something that needs to be maintained. If you are someone who wants to overcome your struggle with anxiety once and for all, you need to be prepared and willing to work for your peace daily. The apostle Paul, the dude who wrote some of the most epic books of the bible, says in Romans 7 that “there is another power within [us] that is at war with [our] minds”. He is acknowledging that there is a battle for the throne of our minds. Will we continually choose to place the Lord, and all the goodness He has for us, to reside there? Or will we become tired of pursuing Jesus, and allow anxiety and fear to take control once again?
Here are some ways to continually maintain an atmosphere of peace in your mind:
- DAILY give praise to the Lord
If you are continually, on a daily basis, choosing to praise and look to Jesus, the anxiety that is trying to eat up your focus and attention will fade. Choosing to take time to make HIM the center of your all will allow His presence to invade your heart. And that is glorious!
- Get His Word in your heart
You want to be able to speak against the voices and lies of your anxiety? Declare Truth! And the only way you can do that is by memorizing His Word. Whether this means memorizing a verse a week, or writing verses on sticky notes and putting them on your mirror, or setting your lock screen as a verse, simply make sure you are in the Word (reading your bible) and surrounded by the Word.
- Write down the big stuff
If you’ve been at IntenCity for long, you will know that journaling is highly recommended by PK, Pastor Natasha, and all of the leaders. We view journaling as a way to remind ourselves of where God has walked with us, what He has promised us, and where He said He’d take us. To have a physical record of what has actually occurred allows us to combat the lies of the devil when he tries to tell us something hasn’t actually happened. It is kind of like the modern version of creating an altar, like they used to do in the Old Testament when God would show up. Write down your “altars” (the day you were set free, the first time you do something you couldn’t while bound up in fear….) and return to them to praise the Lord and declare the Truth of who He is and what He has done in your life!
Sweet one, you were fashioned and designed with greatness in mind. We don’t call you “World Changer” for nothing! But you will never fully step into ALL that the Lord has planned for YOU unless you allow Him to fully free you from ALL your anxiety. Trust me, as a sister who has walked through the same battle you are walking through, a life of peace and freedom is SO worth it. Don’t let the devil convince you that staying comfortable in anxiety is worth it. He is a liar, a robber, and he seeks ONLY to destroy you.
World Changer, the devil desires to keep you bound because he acknowledges that if you become free, you will be unstoppable. Become unstoppable today. Walk into God’s presence with you hands open, lay your anxieties at His feet, and let Him replace them with His incredible peace.
Beautiful one, you were made to be a WARRIOR, not a WORRIER. Walk into the freedom that is yours!
And we, your sisters, are cheering you on.