Following Jesus Means Not Worrying Even If You Still Have Anxiety

Following Jesus Means Not Worrying Even If You Still Have Anxiety

There's a difference between mental illness and self-destructive overthinking.

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There is something about the slower, calmer pacing of the summer season that has brought me a greater understanding of how I function within my mental illnesses. Daily time devoted to prayer and reading scripture, a healthy sleep schedule, going to the gym, and making sure I drink plenty of water throughout the day has helped me recognize how much of my mental health issues are really a physiological response to the way I treat (or mistreat) my body.

But even though I have found my healthy, physical, and mental summer rhythm, and haven't been struggling with waves of depression or episodes of anxiety as often as I did throughout the school year, worrying and overthinking have still been a hurdle for me.

I've written about my struggles with overthinking in the past, and have even called it my ultimate sin. Still, this summer I have begun to crack down on this specific struggle, in a way I never thought to approach it:

I can struggle with my anxiety disorder but not be overthinking.

The simplest way to explain is this: I have found that my anxiety is often out of my control, that sometimes my mind and body react to situations and circumstances in ways that paralyze me from acting/processing what's going on around me. But when I overthink or worry, it not so much a physiological experience, and rather a very bad habit I feed.

A good example of this would be when I wrote and prepared to give my sermon during a recent gathering in my Christian community. A few days leading up to the sermon I struggled with anxiety (which can sometimes include overthinking) but sometimes can also simply be a tenseness and "fight or flight" feeling that I can't shake or avoid. (Obviously, some stress about public speaking is normal, but where I know it's my anxiety acting up is when my bodily and mental response is way beyond normal forms of tension or apprehension.)

Compare that to me re-writing and constantly deleting/restarting my sermon just because I think it's "dumb" or that it's not good enough. I would worry that I could do better, that it wasn't my best work, and before you know it I'm rewriting sections of the sermon the morning of!

Maybe some are reading this and not seeing the difference between struggling with an anxiety disorder and struggling with overthinking/worry. I think it's okay if not everyone agrees that there is a difference: that's where healthy debate and conversation surrounding these topics come into play.

However, I know myself, especially where my overthinking comes from a lack of trust in God.

I find myself worrying the most when I am not reflecting back on how God has provided for me, how He is currently moving in my life and guiding me. I remember part of the Sermon on the Mount (one of Jesus' most famous speeches), where He describes people who "store up...treasures on earth," and therefore give way to darkness and serve for the materialism of this world. From here, Jesus leads His sermon into addressing the topic of worrying, telling His disciples to "therefore...not worry about [their lives]" (Matthew 6:25, NIV).

For Jesus, there is a correlation in where your heart and desires are set and your current state of worrying. I have found that to be nothing but the truth.

I overvalue how people perceive me and wish to be loved by everyone all the time. I desire to be looked up to as smart and stylish. No wonder even when my anxiety is low my worrying is still high: my treasure is in the earth, giving my mind away to worrisome darkness.

But in this I believe there is hope for all of us, as Jesus closes this section of His great speech with this call to action: "For the pagans run after [food, drink, and clothing], and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well" (Matthew 6:32-33, NIV).

It is through pursuing God first that the darkness of worry and overthinking give way.

By prioritizing prayer, making communication with God the most valuable and integral part of my schedule, I tell myself and my worries that my overthinking doesn't control me, that I can put things on the back burner and not hold a million concerns with me all the time. I have found that naming my worries and praying to seek a relationship with God first might not automatically heal me of my anxiety disorder, but it most definitely chips away and eliminates the storm cloud of worry that, indeed, can be shaken.

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12 Bible Verses For Faith In Hard Times

Remind yourself that God is always with you.
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Lately, I have felt lost at what God wants for my life. Ever since I've come back to UWG everything has been horrible. It seems that I can't catch a break. I'm trying my best to focus on school, work, and extracurricular activities. But it's hard when I'm having issues with my apartment/roommates and knowing my family back home is struggling and needs many prayers. All, I keep thinking is maybe Carrollton isn't where I belong anymore. I've asked God if He can guide me in the right direction. Below, I have found Bible verses that have helped get me through these rough, past couple of weeks.

1. Isaiah 43:2

"When you go through deep waters, I will be with you."

2. Psalm 37:5

"Commit your way to the Lord. Trust in Him, and He will act."

3. Romans 8:18

"The pain that you've been feeling, can't compare to the joy that's coming."

4. Proverbs 31:25

"She is clothed in strength, and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future."

5. Joshua 1:9

"Be bold. Be brave. Be courageous."

6. Ecclesiastes 3:1

"There is a time for everything and a reason for every activity under the heavens."

7. Isaiah 41:10

"Don't be afraid, for I am with you. Don't be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand."

8. Isaiah 66:9

"I will not cause pain without allowing something new to be born, says the Lord."

9. Psalm 91:4

"He will cover you with His feathers, and under His wings, you will find refuge; His faithfulness will be your shield and rampart."

10. Psalm 62:1-2

"My soul finds rest in God alone, my salvation comes from Him, He alone is my rock and my salvation."

11. Philippians 4:13

"I can do everything through Christ who gives me strength."

12. Jeremiah 29:11

"For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

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13 Bible Verses For The Srat Girl Who Needs A Little Reminder Of Who She Is

It is easy to start focusing on the wrong things.

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I recently discovered a bible study on my campus for sorority members. I was super nervous about it at first, with the whole stereotypes of houses and how sorority life as a whole is seen as very superficial. It has been one of the most rewarding decisions I have made at Syracuse.

Sorority life can lead people to really focus on outward appearances and what they hear in the rumor mill. Getting caught up in all of that is super easy. Especially around the recruitment season, we tend to judge others based on first impressions and outward appearances.

In honor of being inspired by some of the bible study sessions I have been sitting through, here are some bible verses for the sorority girls who need to remind themselves of their foundation and who they are.

1. Psalm 73:26

"My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever."

2. Matthew 17:20

"He replied, 'Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'move from here to there,' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.'"

3. 1 Samuel 16:7

"But the Lord said to Samuel, "Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart."

4. Jeremiah 29:11

"'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.'"

5. Philippians 4:6-7

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."

6. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

"Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you who belong to Christ Jesus."

7. Proverbs 31:25

"She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future."

8. Exodus 14:14

"The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still."

9. Romans 6:6

"For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin."

10. Genesis 1:27

"So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them."

11. Psalm 139:14

"I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well"

12. Ephesians 2:10

"For we are God's handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do."

13. Galatians 2:20

"I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me."

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