The Anatomy of Anxiety, Part 17: How to Put Off Anxiety
Note: For previous posts in this blog mini-series, please visit: 1: http://bit.ly/aHstk, 2: http://bit.ly/20R01P, 3: http://bit.ly/HAoxI, 4: http://bit.ly/1I6XmF, 5: http://bit.ly/19Jdqt, 6: http://bit.ly/19vCXx, 7: http://bit.ly/21wPLg, 8: http://bit.ly/m50On, 9: http://bit.ly/4vhNIt, 10: http://bit.ly/1ClPr4, 11: http://bit.ly/2Sb2Ec, 12: http://bit.ly/2xv4BV, 13: http://bit.ly/baNuS, 14: http://bit.ly/UFIy1, 15: http://bit.ly/31fQYo, 16: http://bit.ly/3mmTm4
Does worry, doubt, or fear get the best of you sometimes? Do you wonder where anxiety comes from and how to defeat it in your life and the lives of those you love? Then we need a biblical anatomy of anxiety. And, we need God’s prescription for victory over anxiety.
Putting Off and Putting On
In our last post (http://bit.ly/3mmTm4), I discussed the “touchy” issue of exposing and dealing with sin issues involved in anxiety.
The Bible never talks about putting off sin without also instructing us how to put on holy, loving living.
Putting off heart sins of self-trust associated with anxiety, we need to put on trusting Christ as our Sentry.
Putting off relational sins of self-protection associated with anxiety, we need to put on tending and befriending—protecting others.
Motivations to Trust and Love
To be motivated to put off, we need to see the horrors of our sin—even in anxiety issues. Consider the three areas of our relationship to God (spiritual), others (social), and self (self-aware).
Self-protective anxiety is horrible spiritually because it reveals that we fear something more than we fear God. It means that we entrust ourselves to something more than we entrust ourselves to God.
Self-protective anxiety is horrible socially because it reveals that we tend and befriend ourselves rather than or more than we tend and befriend others. Even seemingly altruistic endeavors like public speaking may be fraught with selfishness if we speak as fearful people pleasers trying to impress others or fearful of what others think of us.
Self-protective anxiety is horrible in terms of our self-awareness because we believe lies about ourselves. We live the lie that we are slaves to fear and that we are babies, rather than living the truth that we are slaves to righteousness and that we are adult sons and daughters of God in Christ. We focus on self-esteem when we should be focused on Christ-esteem: Who Christ is and who we are in Christ.
“But It Can’t Be Sin!”
In the midst of anxiety, we may argue:
“But it can’t be sin! I would not have these feelings if I could get rid of them. They’re uninvited. Unwanted. Alien. Intruders. Invaders. I have no choice but to feel these fears!”
At one level, this may be somewhat true. We can’t totally control what feelings we experience. Plus, it is true that mentally and physically we can begin to habituate ourselves to these feelings.
However, at another, deeper level, it (anxiety) can be sin; can be a choice. We can control our spiritual, social, mental, volitional, and behavioral response to our feelings of anxiety.
So why would we choose to stay stuck in anxious patterns?
To understand that, we need to understand “secondary gain.”
What do I get out of staying fearful? What responsibilities and callings do I avoid? What pampering do I receive?
I may or may not be able to control the physical reaction or the immediate emotional response when anxiety strikes. But I can control my relational, mental, motivational, and behavioral responses. When I don’t, I need to ask myself:
“What am I getting out of staying stuck in my pattern of anxiety? What does it buy me? What does it protect me from?”
The Rest of the Story
So just how do we put off the sins of self-trust, self-protection, and self-esteem? How do we put on trusting Christ as our Sentry, tending and befriending others, and living out our new identity in Christ?
In the rest of our blog series, we’ll explore specific biblical guiding principles that answer these vital questions. We’ll use the following categories to find victory over anxiety:
1. Relational: Spiritual, Social, Self-Aware—How to Love Sacrificially
2. Rational: Beliefs and Images—How to Think Biblically
3. Volitional: Motivation and Behavior—How to Choose Courageously
4. Emotional: Reactions and Responses—How to Manage Our Moods
Stay tuned and continue to join the journey.