Leaping Over Fear to Faith
How can you recognize the signs of anxiety and not just shrug it off to “heightened awareness” in these crazy times?
What should you do when you feel anxiety start to build?
Do anxiety and fear go hand in hand? How should Christians manage fear?
In the middle of the coronavirus pandemic, we asked our Charis House Therapist, Karen Cox, to provide some guidance on these questions to help soothe our anxious and weary hearts and minds. Over the next 2 weeks, our blog will focus on these timely questions.
Karen came to Ministry Village at Olive in November 2013 after having worked as a therapist and licensed mental health counselor for young people, adults and families. She works with the women of the Charis House to help them recognize and move beyond the areas in their lives that made them slaves to addiction, while they seek God’s help and redemption. Anxiety and fear are two issues that most of these women struggle with, and they are common issues that can lead to a life of addiction. But beyond that, anxiety and fear also have the power to disrupt your normal life, create poor mental health, and trigger actual physical reactions that can be detrimental to your body’s health. With those thoughts in mind, see what Ms. Karen has to say about anxiety and fear.
▸ How can you recognize the signs of anxiety?
I think it is helpful to differentiate concern from anxiety. It is healthy to have concern in our current environment. We need to be concerned enough to know and follow current health and prevention guidelines. We need to be concerned enough about our high-risk populations to not expose them unnecessarily. Concern positions us to take necessary action. On the other hand, anxiety is futile and keeps us stuck in an emotional place that is detrimental to both our physical and mental health.
Some indicators that you have moved from concern to anxiety are:
- cycling thoughts that never go anywhere and never accomplish anything,
- panicked responses that are beyond what a rational person would perceive as an appropriate action for preparation,
- difficulty with sleep,
- stomach issues, and
- tight muscles.
▸ What should someone do when they feel anxiety start to build?
Anytime you experience any negative emotion (anxiety, fear, anger, sadness), I recommend that you stop and ask yourself, “What am I telling myself right now about this situation?” In any situation, what you tell yourself can either help you to feel better or make you feel a whole lot worse. Scripture calls this “taking thoughts captive”. It is taking a minute to ask yourself what you are thinking and evaluating if it is even realistic or true. Sometimes when we are stuck in anxiety, we can’t even tell. This is where trustworthy friends and counselors can come in to play. Share your concern with someone you know and get their feedback on the rationality of your thought processes.
Romans 12:21 – “take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ”
2 Corinthians 10:5 – “demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”
▸ Do anxiety and fear go hand-in-hand? How should Christians manage fear?
Fear is an emotion that God gave us to alert us to danger. Our neurological senses and insights are designed to let us know that we need to pay attention to something. Unfortunately, by the time most of us are adults, we have developed some learned responses and false beliefs that drive our fear and can distort our danger filters. My advice would be to use the emotion of fear to prompt you to evaluate if you are in real danger or not. Anxiety will exaggerate the degree of danger and the sense that you have to scramble to alleviate the threat — even when that threat may not be real. Again, operate out of concern. Identify what you can control and what you can’t. Do what you can to optimize the safety of yourself and others. Acknowledge there are things you cannot control. As believers, this is where we have an advantage. We get to rest in knowing that God is still good, He is still able, and He promises to have a plan that will prosper us even in the worst of times.
In next week’s blog, we will discuss the importance of self-care and ways to focus on building healthy habits instead of falling into destructive behavior patterns.
✥ Karen has written a book, “Promises For Prodigals,” available on Amazon. The book includes 460 scriptural promises for prodigals and is meant to encourage those who have a prodigal in their own family.
✥ The Charis House is a non-profit Christian-based residential substance abuse program for females. The program is designed in 3 phases, each offering stages of recovery that provide the necessary tools for a practical transition into a new lifestyle free of addiction. The faith-based recovery program addresses the client’s personal relationship with God as the foundation for healing and wholeness. It requires a willingness to change and adhere to a controlled, strict and disciplined environment, allowing life-changing experiences to occur. There is no fee to apply.
✥ To donate to the Charis House or any Ministry Village program, click here.