Several practical tools can be beneficial when you find yourself struggling with worry or anxiety. As I mentioned in Part 1 of this post Dealing With Anxiety, anxiety is something we have all experienced at one time or another as it is a universal emotional. But when you find yourself strugging on an ongoing basis, it is important to access our greatest weapon – God’s Word. Here are some helpful tips to overcome anxiety by making Scripture apart of your everyday life.
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Tackle Repetitive Thoughts
Confronting negative thought patters is where the rubber meets the road for overcoming fearful thoughts. God’s Word is alive and active and we need to put it into practice. Every single time you worry or have an anxious thought, you have to extinguish it with God’s Truth. Worry and anxiety are habitual, so it is important to stop the cycle with our most powerful weapon – God’s Word. Here are a couple tools that will help:
1. Worry Box – For me, anxiety is most often a side effect of not trusting God in some aspect of my life. For example, when my daughter went through a rare autoimmune disease, I was constantly worried about the results of her next weekly blood draw. To remedy my concerns, I would stop and prayerfully entrust my concerns to God. The problem occurred when only a few minutes later, I found myself worried about the same concern all over again.
I saw a Christian counselor who helped me to see that when I prayed, I was not laying my prayers at his feet and leaving them there. I was praying but not trusting him enough to handle the situation. Faith means handing our worries to God without, trying to take them back over and over again. I really struggled with this and the following exercise helped me immensely!
So, every single time you worry, write down that thought on a small piece of paper. Then, write down a verse or truth that counters that fear. For example, in worrying about my daughter’s disease, I’d write down Jeremiah 29:11, which reminded me to rest in the truth that He loves her more than I do and He is going to take care of her. (Just FYI, my daughter is in complete remission from her disease!). To find verses, go to www.openbible.info/topics and type in the topic.
Once you write down the prayer request and verse, pray about that worry, entrusting it to God. Then, fold up the paper and put it in a small box. When you find yourself tempted to worry about the same concern again, remember that “it’s in the box”. In other words, you already prayed about it and trusted it to God. The box was nothing but a physical representation to help me remember that I already laid my request at his feet and it was not to be picked up again. Although there was nothing spiritually significant about the box, it was a good reminder to trust God with my worries and LEAVE them with him. (I found that a Tazo tea box taken apart and re-taped inside out makes a great Worry Box.)
worry box pic
2. Journal Anxious Thoughts – You can apply the same concept with a journal and you might find it more convenient when you are on the go. When you feel anxious about something, simply write down that thought and a Scripture reference before you pray. Then you have a visual reminder that you already trusted God with that request and you have no reason to fear!
I know what you must be thinking…“ Do you really expect me to take the time to write down every single anxious thought I have. There are SO many!” That was my immediate mental response when I was told to try it. To my surprise, this method worked and helped me to be accountable to my every thought. The more I recorded my worries in order to counter them with God’s truth, the easier it got and the more freedom I experienced from worry and anxiety.
Control your Brain’s Background Noise
Unlike men, women think in more than one layer at a time. For example, I can be engaged in a conversation with my mom, while my ‘background thoughts’ are simultaneously consumed in worry and anxiety about a completely different topic. God created women’s brains to be multi-faceted, because He knew we needed to be well-equipped to multi-task. However, He didn’t intend for us to be immersed in fear and anxiety while simultaneously going about their God-given roles.
What worked for me was to drown out those background thoughts with new thoughts. For example, if I found myself worrying while doing mindless tasks such as emptying the dishwasher. So, I started reading over a Bible verse on an index card, saying it to myself over and over again. Another tactic is to sing an uplifting song or listen to Christian music. You could also listen to one of the podcasts I listed in my post Best Christian Podcasts for Women.
While our brains are amazing, they can only be occupied with so many conscience thoughts at once. So, I basically forced my brain to be filled with something other than a worry backdrop. This method even helped mundane tasks, like emptying the dishwasher, go much faster.
Remind Yourself of God’s Promises To Overcome Anxiety
One of my favorite tips to overcome anxiety is to surround yourself with reminders of God’s faithfulness. It was one November about 5 years ago that I found myself in a full-blown struggle with anxiety. During that winter, I saw a strange number of butterflies outside. In spite of the cold weather, every time I went outside one seemed to cross my path. They were everywhere, popping up in the times I needed a distraction the most. Even when I was indoors, I saw butterflies at various times on TV, on a sign in a store, on a thank you note, etc.
Eventually, I realized God was trying to tell me something. In His own special way, God was communicatinb that He loved me enough to transform my thoughts, just as he transforms a caterpillar into a beautiful butterfly. I realized that this process of renovating my thoughts was transforming me as a person. I learned that exposure to the truth of God’s Word always results in change – transformative change that allows us to be more like Him. When God sends His Word out, He promises it will never return void. He always sends it out to accomplish something (Isaiah 55:11).
As I mentioned in the last post, butterflies were a reminder for me of God’s promise of His overwhelming love and ability to transform me. Because I’m often quick to forget his faithfulness, I made a couple reminders of butterflies around the house to help me remember his ability to overcome my every struggle and transform me to be more like Him.
DIY Framed Fabric Art
framed butterfly pic
To make some DIY framed art from fabric, I spray painted some old frames with Rustoleum Universal in Satin Nickel, my favorite silver spray paint. Then, I framed some fabric (Premiere Prints Barber Village Blue) that already had butterflies. To make the butterflies pop, I filled them in with a navy paint pen.
Also I bought a cute frame at Michael’s for my make-up table. I cut a piece of canvas drop cloth the same size of the frame and stuck on some self-adhesive lace butterflies I found in the scrapbook section. Throughout the day I see these frames and I am reminded about the Lord’s immense love for me and His willingness to transform me to be more like Him.
The Power of Jesus’ Name
Lysa Terkeurst once wrote that one of her greatest weapons against anxiety was Jesus’ name because the word itself carries so much power. One night I found myself with anxious thoughts swirling through my head. No matter what I did, I couldn’t fall asleep and I tried everything! I decided to give her advice a try and started whispering His name over and over. The next thing I knew it was morning. This worked for me night after night and I still do this at bedtime when I have a lot on my mind.
Whatever you are struggling with, know that it will not last forever, that God has a plan, and He will see it to completion. God is powerful enough to create the earth so He is surely powerful enough to overcome any fears that are weighing you down, not matter how overwhelming. Genesis 18:14 states, “Is anything too hard for the Lord?”
Until a couple years ago, I struggled with anxiety off and on from the time I was a little girl. These are the tools that were helpful to me when I finally decided to let God fight my battle. God gave His Word the power to overcome any anxious thought, worry or fear. He wants nothing more to give you freedom from this stronghold. Of course, I still have worries and fears at times, but through the power of His Word, I was finally able to rest in Him. Turn your burdens over to Him, because He never intended you to carry them in the first place.