According to Cara Joyner, stress and anxiety are nearly unavoidable. "We will each endure times of high stress, worry and tension." However, a Christian who struggles with anxiety can still trust in God, who is powerful enough to strengthen you and even make anxiety your ally.
Anxiety is an indicator.
Illustrating how anxiety is in fact the messenger, not the problem, Joyner recalls discovering finding a water spot on her ceiling: "There is a small leak in my roof that drips water into the attic during heavy rain. My husband and I didn’t know the leak was there until a water spot appeared on the ceiling of our dining room. When I first saw the dark stain creeping toward a light fixture, I assumed it was leftover from the previous owner. When another rain came through and the mark grew larger, we knew there was a problem. And now it can be addressed."
Anxiety isn't our problem, it's an indicator of our problems. "It shines a light on the truth that something, somewhere, isn’t as it should be," Joyner explains.
"God designed our minds, bodies and souls to work together cohesively, both in worship and in service," Joyner continues. "When tension occurs in one part of our being, we feel its effect throughout the whole."
Anxiety Shows Us We Need A Better Filter
In his letter to the Philippians, the apostle Paul reminds readers to focus their eyes on everything that is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, and admirable. "When anxiety begins to increase," Joyner suggests, "it may be an indication that we need to more carefully choose where we focus our energy and attention." Setting healthy limits for our consumption of social media, television, and news stories are small but effective steps we can take to listen to our anxiety.
Anxiety Separates Us, But It Doesn't Have To
"We were made to live in community, to share both our highlights and our pain with one another," Joyner encourages. "Reconnect. Stay plugged in. Let others be a part of your story. Where the relationship itself is the source of anxiety, be honest and be present to address it."
What To Do Next
When anxiety comes up in your life, focus on what Joyner calls the "non-anxious" presence of God. "Listen carefully and honestly, seeking truth in yourself and your relationships. Allow reflection to lead to action that does not simply suppress the anxiousness, but addresses the source of the trouble."
Let your anxiety be your ally, not your prison guard. "Talk to a friend. Call a counselor," Joyner concludes. "Have the conversation you’ve avoided. Look at the stain on the ceiling with a desire to seek the truth; and walk forward in the freedom and protection of a God who already knows and loves you fully."