Jun 17, 2018 04:23AM
By Bonnie Lyn Smith
I won’t lie. Anxiety is a frequent solicitor at our door. It comes around just about as frequently as the Fed Ex truck, only it doesn’t knock and walk away. It hangs out, unfolds a chair, cracks open a can of pop, and makes itself comfortable. Should one of us crack the door just a little, there it is with long, bony fingers reaching in and prying its way in, one sneaky step at a time.
After months of stress, one child struggling with the end-of-school-year push, and one processing the shift from high school to What’s Next, I couldn’t take it anymore. Somehow, when I wasn’t looking, someone answered the door, and anxiety pulled up a seat and propped its feet up on an ottoman.
Here was my lash-out on social media because I’m so mature and I do that (smile):
Dear Anxiety (not mine, in this case): I am not going to stroke your face, let you in, offer you coffee, and hand you nails to hang up pictures. You are not coming in this house again for a long stay. I will beat the snot out of you until you run with your tail between your legs screaming down the street like the banshee you are. Not taking any more of my family. Ba-bye now! Don't let the door hit you on the way out!
Somewhere down the line we get weary, fed up, and angry. And that’s where I was…completely off-my-rocker scream-y. I realized I had left the door open when life got busy, and here was that ugly intruder again. Some is genetic. Some is learned. We are all learning how to be healthy about it and tell it authoritatively to exit.
But the back door was apparently unlocked, and one area of “stuck” in one of my kids that a teacher kept telling me about somehow ended up in a closet somewhere while I swept the house of the rest of the anxiety creepers.
So when the email came in that she had found a way to “unlock” my son’s mind when overwhelm swooped in during big writing pieces at school, my antennae went up. I paid attention. I read what she had to say.
You did what now? After how many years of trying to find a way in to unlock the creative flow?
And it was simple, really. She offered to play scribe to my son’s verbal expression to take away the angst of writing it all down. You see, his mind moves far too quickly to slow down and process, and with weak fine motor skills, a fast mind and slow hands equal frustration.
Not only did she offer to be his scribe, but, also, he had matured enough to take her suggestion. He utilized a tool and became unstuck.
What about us, then? Maybe we don’t find a long writing assignment intimidating, but for us, praying for someone out loud and in person is. Or having a new friend over to a messy house. Or starting a new job or new school and worrying nobody will like us.
Maybe we are branching out in a leadership or mentoring role, and we feel paralyzed by responsibility. Or we’re a new parent staring at that sweet codependent in our arms as we picture 18 years of colic (even though it’s more like 6 weeks).
What has you stuck from moving forward?
- Old voices about your (lack of) worth?
- Past failures?
- Fear of new ventures?
- Comparison of yourself with others?
- Low self-esteem?
- A lack of community or good counsel?
- Former patterns of behavior?
There could be so many different imaginary ropes around us, keeping us lasso-ed to fear.
But God says this about fear:
2 Timothy 1:6-7, ESV
For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.
1 John 4:18, ESV
There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.
For one thing, God doesn’t hand out fear. He fills us with power, love, and self-control. Amen?
Part of the reason He cannot possibly coexist with fear is because He is perfect love, and where perfect love is, fear cannot reside.
We have been perfected in love if we believe that He died for us on the cross for the forgiveness of sins and the gift of eternal life.
Whether intentionally or unintentionally, when people try to bring fear into your life for any reason, they are not operating in perfect love, and discernment is needed.
When they come banging on the door of your life demanding entrance and not taking “no” for an answer, remember who the real “Door” is:
John 10:9, ESV
I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture.
And right after that, this verse:
John 10:10, ESV
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.
My son’s teacher was on to something when she heard that “click” sound in his thinking, paid attention, and made a significant discovery:
His mind told him he could not write when given a topic to choose and a lengthy assignment. What came in the door was fear, panic, anxiety, and destructive patterns of shutdown.
So, she closed that particular door, the one that caused the flurry of negative thoughts, and found the true open door through which he could focus, think, and create.
We have to have that same wisdom in our spiritual lives. We need to be solid in understanding Jesus is the Door through which we gain true peace and freedom. Any anxious thought is not from Him and comes to steal and to destroy. It is the opposite of “create,” of life.
When fear, negative thinking, or anxiety come knocking to sell us a bill of goods outside God’s plans for us, we need to seal them out and let God’s truth in. We need to make sure our weather stripping is in good shape and our bolt in place.
How do we distinguish between anxiety knocking and God?
God's knock comes with the following, based on the verses we have read:
- A spirit of power, love, and self-control
- Perfect love
- Freedom to enter
- Abundant life
What steps will you take this very week to make sure you answer the door only to Jesus and His peace in your life?
Author Bonnie Lyn Smith writes about mental health advocacy, special education, faith in the valleys of life, drawing healthy boundaries, relational healing, renewing our minds, walking with a Holy God, and much ado about grace. Join the conversation at Espressos of Faith.
She is the author of Not Just on Sundays: Seeking God’s Purpose in Each New Day and the founder and editor-in-chief of Ground Truth Press, a book publishing company.