Anxious For Nothing?

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How are you today?

No, how are you really? 

Don’t just smile and say, “I’m fine.”  I mean, it’s great if you are, but, honestly, I think many of us are struggling in different ways right now.

Of course we’ve tried to make the best of it.  We’ve tried to stay positive.  We’ve tried to trust in God…  Sometimes we’ve even managed.

We’ve kept on working, or we’ve adapted to being on furlough.  We’ve taken on homeschooling or we’ve adjusted to isolation.  We’ve gone without seeing friends and family and we’ve gathered for church on Zoom.

Over the last few weeks we’ve begun to take tentative steps towards this strange parallel existence referred to as the “new normal” and we’ve tried to find ways to make it work… but there’s nothing very normal about a world of social distancing and masks and obsessive hand sanitising.

Our normal lives have been put on hold with no real certainty about when many of the things we long for will be able to restart.

And in our attempts to put a brave face on it, to keep going, to keep smiling, I wonder how many of us have simply pushed our emotions down and buried them deep inside.

Sometimes you only realise when you stop.

As part of a writing seminar I particpated in a few weeks ago, we were invited to reflect on our experience of the pandemic and of lockdown over the last few months – how it had affected our writing and how it had impacted us.

I knew all too well the effect it had had on my writing, but as I stopped to reflect on the wider impact, I was surprised.

Until then I would have believed it when I told you I was fine.  Obviously there have been challenges over the last few months, and this is not how I wanted this year to turn out, but I’ve been coping.  No-one close to me has been seriously ill with the virus and my work situation is relatively secure.  I knew there were many people far, far worse off than me.

What I hadn’t recognised until I stopped to think was the level of anxiety bubbling away beneath the surface.  I realised that I wasn’t fine with the uncertainty, that I was struggling with the lack of control, that the anxiety that has become “normal” to me isn’t really normal at all.

Why am I sharing this?

Because I have a feeling that it’s not just me.

I think many of us respond in the same way – to the pandemic or to other challenges we face.

We grin and bear it.  We grit our teeth and persevere.  We push through the pain and keep on going, pushing our feelings down or failing to acknowledge them at all.

And it’s not healthy.

Yes, there are probably others who have it worse, and yes, we all face challenges in life and we are called to persevere, but we are not called to deny what we feel.

And actually pausing to recognise it is the first step to dealing with it.

Since I discovered how anxious I’ve been, I’ve been able to find things that help:

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  • Praying about it (not rocket science, I know, but actually recognising it and naming it before God is important)
  • Talking about it with others (it’s not something we need to carry alone)
  • Taking practical steps to guard against the things that are causing us anxiety (like limiting the amount of time we spend watching or reading news reports)
  • Turning our focus to something more helpful (like reading the Bible or praying or listing the blessings we have instead of getting caught up in our worries)
  • Being proactive about doing things that help us relax (listening to music, going for a walk, taking a bath, watching a comedy programme… whatever works for you)

anxious for nothing

A book I’ve found helpful over the last few weeks is “Anxious For Nothing” by Max Lucado.

In it, he focusses on Paul’s words in Philippians 4:4-8, and he identifies four steps to lead to CALM:

C- celebrate God’s goodness
A- ask God for help
L – leave your concerns with him
M – meditate on good things

There are two or three chapters based on each of these steps digging deeper into what it looks like in practical terms and I found several helpful insights.

I’ll share a few of my favourite quotes:

  • “Anxiety is not a sin; it is an emotion. (So don’t be anxious about feeling anxious.)”
  • “The presence of anxiety is unavoidable, but the prison of anxiety is optional.”
  • “Isolation creates a downward cycle of fret.  Choose instead to be the person who clutches the presence of God with both hands.”
  • “The path to peace is paved with prayer.  Less consternation, more supplication.  Fewer anxious thoughts, more prayer-filled thoughts.”

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If you’re recognising that you feel anxious and want some help in moving forward, this book is a great place to start.  You can find it at these links: UK, US.

What about you?  How have you been over the last few months?  And what helps you when you feel anxious?

Inspire Me Monday

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18 thoughts on “Anxious For Nothing?

  1. It is good to reflect and I agree the starting point to moving on, is always to be honest and to admit to how you are really feeling. I like the Max Lucado acronym too – when we lift our eyes to God it changes our perspective!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wonderful acronym. Many are battling anxiety as we live in these unprecedented days. Another book which has been helpful is “Psalms for the Anxious Heart” by Becky Harling. May we find hope in and through His Word in these uncertain times.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for sharing that recommendation, Joanne! I haven’t read the book but the Psalms are great when you’re feeling anxious – Psalm 91 is one of my favourites.

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  3. This line spoke to me: “We are not called to deny what we feel.” We aren’t. I do my best not to deny how I feel. I’m a fan of feeling all my feelings, both good, bad, and indifferent. If you read my latest post, you will see all I’ve been dealing with during this pandemic.

    Music, good music helps me when I feel anxious. Sometimes it’s good gospel music, other times it’s fun Frank Sinatra music or comforting classical music. I love music and play it constantly throughout the day.

    Moving my body/getting a good workout in our dancing around the room also helps when I feel anxious. Lastly, cooking something delicious to eat, something good for my body is a great help.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I had a lot of anxiety the first several weeks of the pandemic. Now it arises in isolated moments–like an upcoming trip for my son. I wrote a post a few weeks ago about casting my care on Him and try to do that–and leave it there. I also “hid” a lot of people on FaceBook who were constantly arguing about masks or the the virus or whatever. I was getting agitated every time I went on FB, but didn’t want to do away with it completely because I keep up with my extended family and some friends that way. So that seemed like a good compromise. Like Yvonne said, music is a big help to me. I even have an anxiety playlist on my phone. 🙂 Right before the pandemic started I began reading Michelle Bengston’s Breaking Anxiety’s Grip, which was timely. One chapter there was focused on God and His capability to handle anything in our lives. I remember finished that chapter and thinking, “Wow. What am I worried about? He can handle it.” I’m reading Jen Wilkin’s None Like Him about the attributes of God, and experiencing the same result. I was thinking of a verse in the psalms (but haven’t looked it up yet) about meditating on Him–not just on His Word or various truths, but on Him directly. We really don’t do that enough, but it increases our confidence in Him as well as our worship of Him.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Barbara! These are all really helpful tips. I have hidden people on Facebook too when they were constantly posting things that were adding to my stress. I’m thinking of creating an anxiety playlist too.
      And I agree, the more we can focus on God the more we will realise he is more than big enough to handle whatever we are facing. Thanks for sharing your insights!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Lesley,
    “Don’t be anxious about being anxious.” So true that anxiety is not a sin so no use beating myself up for an emotion. Good nuggets of truth here and I’m SO glad you are back writing again. Let the raw feelings flow and I’m sure you will find that there are others who can identify and relate. We all need to know we’re not along. Great post!
    Blessings,
    Bev xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Bev! Yes, that quote was so helpful to me as I used to feel bad for being so anxious and that only made it worse. It definitely helps to know that others experience the same thing.

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  6. “We are not called to deny what we feel.” This is such a great reminder for me, Lesley. I know I too easily say, “I’m fine.” I love your honest sharing and your favorite quotes from Max Lucado’s book. Thank you so much, my friend, for making us feel less alone. Love and blessings to you!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Lesley, I always appreciate the honesty of your posts. I realized pretty quickly into all of this that I was far from “fine.” Our family is navigating it, and we’re doing better. But I still have days where it doesn’t take much to overwhelm me.

    I loved this quote from Max Lucado’s book:
    “The path to peace is paved with prayer. Less consternation, more supplication. Fewer anxious thoughts, more prayer-filled thoughts.”

    SO much truth in these words!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Jeanne! I’m glad you and your family are doing better but I think it’s been such a difficult time for everyone, I’m glad you liked the quote. The whole book is really helpful.

      Like

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