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I’ve struggled with anxiety since childhood. It’s something that’s almost always been a part of my life. But no matter how hard I’ve prayed, cried, or pleaded with God to take it away, its presence in my life has existed.
As a teenager, I used to think that the more I read my Bible, engulfed myself in Church services, volunteered, and served, the more my anxiety would dissipate. At least that was what everyone around me told me.
“Just don’t worry, Amber.”
“Give it to God, and go to sleep.”
“Have more faith, and all will go well for you.”
What many of these well-meaning individuals didn’t realize, however, is that when Jesus speaks in Philippians 4 about anxiety, it isn’t as easy as just saying a simple prayer, and being more thankful. And when I write about anxiety specifically, rarely am I writing about the typical day-to-day anxieties people face daily.
For myself, and many others in this world, the anxiety I write about is a classified mental disorder. It’s clinical, and something that one genuinely can’t just “stop thinking or worrying about,” as hard as they might try. It’s far beyond the worldly anxieties of 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” (New International Version) or Matthew 6:25-34: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes” verse 25 here; New International Version)?
I heard a sermon once that illustrated anxiety rooted in fear in this way.
The Link Between Anxiety and Fear
Sometimes, we as humans grow fearful. In fact, I will attest that most anxiety, whether generalized or obsessive-compulsive, for example, is rooted in fear. Those with high-functioning anxiety can’t seem to slow down. Everything is red, inflamed, and on fire, and needs to be done right now. There is little prioritization, as everything is a priority. The fire needs to be put out as quickly and efficiently as possible. Even if the fire is only in their mind.