Jesus helps with 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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17 Empowering Bible Verses For Women

You go, girl.
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We all have those days where we let the negative thoughts that we're "not good enough," "not pretty enough" or "not smart enough" invade our minds. It's easy to lose hope in these situations and to feel like it would be easier to just give up. However, the Bible reminds us that these things that we tell ourselves are not true and it gives us the affirmations that we need. Let these verses give you the power and motivation that you're lacking.

1. Proverbs 31:25

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

2. Psalm 46:5

"God is within her, she will not fall."

3. Luke 1:45

"Blessed is she who believed that the Lord would fulfill His promises to her."

4. Proverbs 31:17

"She is energetic and strong, a hard worker."

5. Psalm 28:7

"The Lord is my strength and my shield."

6. Proverbs 11:16

"A gracious woman gains respect, but ruthless men gain only wealth."

7. Joshua 1:9

"Be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go."

8. Proverbs 31:30

"Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last; but a woman who fears the Lord will be greatly praised."

9. 1 Corinthians 15:10

"By the grace of God, I am what I am."

10. Proverbs 31:26

"When she speaks, her words are wise, and she gives instructions with kindness."

11. Psalm 139:14

"I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made."

12. 1 Peter 3:3-4

"Don't be concerned about the outward beauty of fancy hairstyles, expensive jewelry, or beautiful clothes. You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God."

13. Colossians 2:10

"And in Christ you have been brought to fullness."

14. 2 Timothy 1:7

"For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline."

15. Jeremiah 29:11

"'For I know the plans I have for you,' says the Lord. 'They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.'"

16. Exodus 14:14

"The Lord himself will fight for you. Just stay calm."

17. Song of Songs 4:7

"You are altogether beautiful, my darling, beautiful in every way."

Next time you're feeling discouraged or weak, come back to these verses and use them to give you the strength and power that you need to conquer your battles.

Cover Image Credit: Julia Waterbury

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It's Okay To Be A Shattered Temple, God Doesn't Need You To Be A Perfect House

God wants to restore you because the scariest place for the enemy is the transformation from broken to healed.

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So right now it's 6:09 a.m., the house is so quiet I can hear it breathing. The wind slightly knocking against the walls like an unwelcome guest. The heat running through the pipes bringing warmth to each section of the house. The rain from the skies kissing the roofs and windows. I just thought how intricate and specific each role plays. How on its own it must feel inconsequential, but together completes its purpose.

In the Bible, a house/temple is referred to as a body often. We sing songs, "Lord, make me a house of prayer." But in some seasons, we doubt the very thing we asked God for as if it wasn't already designed for us.

Sometimes in our walks, we question our purpose. We don't see the grand scheme. On why we went through what we did, or why we currently are. We want explanations for everything because if our human minds can't comprehend it that means it was in vain. I have wrestled with this concept, the "Why me?" the "I didn't/don't deserve this" and lastly, "I just want the pain to end."

See, what they don't tell you when you sign up for this is that salvation is free but sanctification costs your life. They don't tell you that you have to change your words from "Why me?" to "Count it all joy." They don't put a disclaimer saying that the walk is free but the path is narrow. They don't tell you that you are a house.

A house can have broken parts but still be used. You can be broken and still be used by God. Because God isn't looking for perfect he's looking for posture. He's looking for an open house not foreclosed one. When something is broken within your house, you call someone with that specific training in that area. The very thing that you think qualifies you as broken can be the same that qualifies you as a healer! You looked at your situation as a test but God is trying to use you as a tool.

You don't call a plumber to fix a light. You don't call a perfect person to help an addict. You want someone who doesn't look down on you but says, "I can help, I know because I've been there and I know the pain, I know how you feel. Let's tackle this together." It's okay to be a broken house, a shattered temple — I have some creaks and leaks, too. God wants to restore you because the scariest place for the enemy is the transformation from broken to healed. Why? Because then you'll start setting others free. People don't care what you say, they care about what you do.

What you thought counted you out, God is counting on to help someone for their breakthrough.

They overcame by the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony. Let your house be open for not only God, but others. You may see yourself as a broken mirror, but others see a reflection. Your life is a testimony of not shame or embarrassment but of strength and grace. Your house may be missing things — a father, joy gone, love absent, peace may be missing — but God doesn't intend to keep you in lack, he is all-sufficient.

But he needed to withhold things from your house because one, you needed to know who really supplied it, and two, so you can show others how you overcame. But he is faithful He will fill those broken places and mend the broken hearts. He will be the light in your house. So that you may project your light to the world.

You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill can not be hidden. Neither a man lights a lamp and put it under a bushel, but on the stand — and it shines unto all that are in the house. Even so, let your light shine before men; they may see your good works and Glorify your Father who is in heaven.

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