“Rediscovering Peace: Handling Anxiety & Worry” by Sheryl Gehrls
One of the most difficult things a widow faces is anxiety. At least that is true for most of us! We know we should be trusting God to take care of the details of our daily lives; our heads know that. However, it seems much easier to believe that when we’re in church on Sunday, or when everything is going well. What about the days when the finances are tight, or a huge thunderstorm is raging outside, or even when we just don’t feel quite right physically? It’s not so easy when something shadowy looms just around the corner or just below the surface where we can’t quite see it!
Last week we talked about naming fears and putting them under the Name of Jesus. Fear is defined as follows: “an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat.” In other words, a fear is more specific and is generally attached to a someone, a something, or a specific situation.
This week, we’re going to take a look at anxiety. Fear and anxiety are two very different, yet similar, emotions. Anxiety looks more like this: “a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome.” We can also define anxiety as apprehension, agitation, or excessive uneasiness, frequently accompanied by compulsive behaviors and/or panic attacks. Perhaps we could best describe anxiety as a sense of impending doom, or a generalized feeing of gloom – not really anything specific but maybe triggered by a possible problem, or a possible situation.
Anxiety inevitably leads to worry, which is defined as “giving way to anxiety or unease; allowing one’s mind to dwell on difficulty or troubles.”
Jesus has a great deal to say about worry in Matthew 6:25-34. Rather than quoting the entire passage here, if you are struggling with anxiety and worry, I encourage you to look it up and meditate on it for awhile. To summarize Jesus’ teaching on this subject: “Don’t Do It!” Ouch! That would seem to indicate that we have a choice in the matter! I don’t know about you, but when I’m feeling anxious about something (and worrying), it can be really overwhelming. My mind seems to get stuck in the “What If….?” loop, repeatedly chewing over the problem like a cow with its cud.
It’s probably safe to say that 90% of what we are anxious and worrying about is never going to happen. So, how do we overcome this, particularly as widows? There are some keys that can help us. In II Corinthians 10:3-6, the Apostle Paul tells us the following:
“For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God and take every thought captive….”
The first key is to intentionally take every thought captive. As Jesus indicated, we have a choice when it comes to the thoughts we allow ourselves to dwell on. We cannot walk forward while we’re continually chewing on what’s behind us. Allowing our minds to go over and over situations that may or may not ever happen, or even the things that have already happened but we’re still anxious (uneasy) about will never lead to peace. This will only capture our minds in a quagmire that goes round and round and leads to gloom and doom, unease and apprehension. Exercise your free will and begin to take those thoughts captive!
The next key is to bring every anxious thought to the Father who cares for you. Philippians 4:6 tells us to let our requests be made known to God. We can bring every anxiety, every worry, and every concern that burdens our minds into His presence, asking Him for help with it. It truly is that simple, and yet, very difficult.
When you are in this new season of learning how to live as a widow, be gentle with yourself. We are all prone to fears and anxieties as we learn to adapt. It’s truly a comfort to know that we don’t need to live as slaves to these uncomfortable and debilitating emotions. Jesus walks beside us to help us carry them and live abundantly. He has come to help us thrive, not just survive. He says He has a plan to give us a future and a hope. That may be difficult to grasp during the first few months or even years of being a widow. But as we learn to trust Him and lean on His Word, it does become easier.
Spend time intentionally in His Presence, Count Your Blessings with a heart of gratitude, Name Your Fears, and Take Every Thought Captive. These are keys to rediscovering your peace and learning to live with a quiet heart.
As always, your thoughts are welcome. Please feel free to share with friends, encourage them to subscribe, and you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org