Retreats with God
He leads me beside the still waters...He restores my soul...
My mind isn’t always a peaceful place. Yet our lives as believers are to be characterized by peace. If I’m honest, “let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts,” (Colossians 3:15) just sometimes feels unattainable, even though it's what I long for most.
But I know God’s will for us is to experience His “perfect peace” when our minds are fixed on Him (Isaiah 26:3). When I look at God’s promises, I know He has given me everything I need to live a godly life (2 Peter 1:3). And too, one way the Holy Spirit shows up in us is through peace (see Galatians 5:22). Yet I still battle anxiety.
Sometimes I feel anxious for seemingly no reason at all. The reality is that there are thoughts that go with those feelings, even if I am unaware of what those thoughts are. So those jittery, sweaty feelings when my voice trembles and my face becomes flushed are connected to some event, specifically, my THOUGHTS about the event.
Taking thoughts captive
One thing that I have to do repeatedly is search my heart for what those thoughts could be. I repeatedly attempt to 'take every thought captive' (2 Cor. 10:5) throughout the day when my mind starts to wander with all the "what ifs." I am learning to make those thoughts "obedient to Christ" by reminding myself that He is sovereign, He is in control of my life here and in eternity, and His plans are good.
So for some examples, let’s go with a couple “what ifs” that have been flowing through my mind lately:
Anxious thought #1: What if I make some silly mistake at work?
Taking thought captive: I will do my best at work, because in everything I do I “work heartily as for the Lord” (Colossians 3:23), and instead of worrying about making a mistake, I will cast that concern on Him because He cares for me (1 Pet. 5:7).
Anxious thought #2: What if so-and-so thinks I’m weird for sharing all this stuff in these blog posts? (lol... no, for real)
Taking thought captive: Am I now seeking the approval of man or of God? (Galatians 1:10)
Caring too much
The other day I was reading a devotional in “Morning By Morning” by Charles Spurgeon, and this quote really convicted me:
I do struggle with caring "to excess” as Spurgeon mentioned, because I tend to get overly concerned about doing things perfectly or being perceived a certain way. So I pray for God to continue to uproot this sin in my heart and exchange it for confident trust that enables me to be bold for Him. How ridiculous it is for me to take all my burdens upon myself, and to burden myself with things that I don’t need to be burdened with in the first place!
I have to add that there are situations when anxiety is attributed more to faulty brain chemistry causing physical manifestations of anxiety. Just like other parts of our body can malfunction, we are living in a fallen world where the neurons in our brains can fail to fire properly. There are times when medication may be necessary and helpful. God is healer, and He has provided doctors and medicines to help us.
Search your heart
Aside from that, I know there are unconscious thoughts that could be influencing how anxiety shows up, so I continually pray Psalm 139:23-24 NKJV:
“Search me O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”
I ask Him to reveal any areas where I am failing to trust Him fully.
You might be thinking that this whole 'take your thoughts captive' thing sounds like just as much work as dealing with the thoughts that come up in the first place. But it turns out to feel like less work and more of a comfort when I start to sense the presence of God through His Word. I then realize that my anxiety level is going way down because I know He will sustain me! (Ps. 55:22)
I find it helpful to journal any anxious thoughts I am having and pour them out before the Lord, and then "take them captive" on paper so I can visually see God's truth in front of me. It takes regular practice of casting all our cares on Him, but there is freedom found in the process, and He is WORTHY of our trust!
As a final verse of encouragement, one that I plan to commit to memory is Ps. 94:19, pictured below. Allow His Word to comfort you and keep you in perfect peace in the midst of your "what ifs." And combat those "what ifs" with the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God!
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Hi, I'm Tessa! I suppose I could sum myself up by confessing I am a crazy cat lady, amateur sewist, nature lover, bookworm, fabric fanatic, mental health advocate, craft enthusiast, tea addict, and an 'old soul.' Jesus is my all in all, and I'm so thankful that His love NEVER fails.