What Must I Do About My Anxiety?

What Must I Do About My Anxiety?

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you . . . Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. John 14:27

We all have different struggles. I’ve struggled with both drug addiction and anxiety. I’m not comparing addiction to anxiety. I’m just insisting that we all have different life problems. For me, my anxiety has been mostly situational. In my addiction, I spent countless sleepless hours worrying about being discovered, losing my job, public humiliation, and destroying my family. As it turned out, I had good reason to worry. All those things happened. When they did, I was terribly anxious about the pain I’d caused and about putting life back together.

Not all anxiety is situational though. For those with generalized anxiety disorder, unease is a constant companion for which there is not necessarily an identifiable cause. Simply getting up for the day induces tremendous feelings of angst and peace is an elusive concept. With this kind of anxiety, it’s a daily life struggle just to experience joy.

In today’s passage, Jesus told his disciples that he was leaving, but that he would send God’s Holy Spirit to comfort them. He promised that through his spirit, they would know peace, but he also commanded them not to let their hearts be troubled. Jesus provided the source of peace, but he simultaneously insisted that his disciples must be obedient in order to experience that peace.

The lesson for me, is that when I’m anxious, I need to remember that Jesus has provided his spirit of peace but also that he has given me some responsibility in experiencing it. I’m not saying that all anxiety is my fault. I am saying that I have a choice to respond destructively or constructively to it.

Whether I suffer from situational anxiety or generalized anxiety, daily, it’s my responsibility to daily drag that unrest before God, giving it to him. Daily, I must ask how I can obey. Is there something I’m clinging to which is causing my anxiety? If not, is there something I must do to experience peace? Do I need counseling or medication? Do I need to be of service to others?

Our problems often don’t evaporate with just one prayer. We may struggle with some things for life. That doesn’t mean we must live in slavery to anxiety. Whatever we’re wrestling with, we must daily take it to God, asking him what we should do. Then, we must do it.

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