Recently a friend and I took our daughters to the beach. The beach is one of my favorite places in the world. We made our space on the sand. A beautiful breeze was blowing and the sound of seagulls and gently breaking waves was our background music. After a little while of soaking in the sun I realized something that surprised me.
I could not relax.
My mind was racing. My body was poised for a relaxing day at the beach but my mind was not.
Regardless of how hard I tried to put the issues that were occupying my mind space aside they would not be moved out.
This had become a pattern.
I am not, by nature, an anxious person. I am a lot of things but in general, I am pretty good at chilling out. Under normal circumstances I can sit for hours just reading a book or soaking up the sun and relaxing.
I used to pity people who couldn’t relax and now I was one of them. Now, I was feeling bad for myself!
A few things are usually true when I get myself into this state.
1. I have taken on responsibilities that are not my own.
In the work I do (as well as life in general) I am surrounded by people and have the opportunity to hear their stories. Their stories many times involve pain. I want to fix their pain or their troubles. I want them to be free!
If there is something I can do to help I want to do it but the lines become blurred when my desire for them to change or get help is greater than their own. In those cases, I have to make sure I am not taking on something I am not responsible for. In fact trying to rescue someone, sometimes actually gets in the way of them receiving freedom straight from the Rescuer and the only one who can truly help. Each one of us is responsible for our own journey and while we are here to help each other everyone needs to make their own path.
2. I value the opinion of others more than God’s opinion of me.
This has been a particularly difficult one for me because I like to please people and take criticism to heart. It becomes even more complicated in the Christian world because scripture can be interpreted in different ways. So, when someone uses scripture to back up their opinion it makes it harder to dismiss because I hold scripture in high esteem. Time alone with God, reading the Bible and seeking the application for my life is key. Keenly listening to my gut guides me to my conclusions. I don’t always get it right but that doesn’t change God’s opinion of me! That alone is beautiful and freeing!
3. My trust level is low
Any time I am in stress-mode it inevitably circles back around to lack of trust. On some level I do not trust that God has got my life in His hands and will work everything that is happening together for my good. Taking the time to recognize this – ask for forgiveness and determine to raise my trust level sets me on the right track again.
Two scriptures I rely on heavily in times like these are:
1 Peter 5:7
Cast you cares upon Him, for He cares for you…
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
These are not just quotes – they are lifelines and Philippians in particular is a step by step plan for ridding yourself of anxiety.
How about you? Have you identified contributing factors to anxiety? I’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment or send me a note!
Deep breaths help too 😉
My new favorite song! Oceans by Hillsong.