By Leah Mason-Virgin
I was struck by a twitter post the other day—the author of a tweet stated that so many women she speaks with struggle with anxiety. The tweet felt like it jumped off the page at me.
I am a former anxious, fearful, type A personality.
Why did I just say former—because I have torn down the stronghold of it with God's word, wisdom, and tools. Don't get me wrong the enemy tries to throw it at me from time to time. And then I plug into my tools and word of God to triumph over the flaming arrows of the evil one. There are some things that can be completely overcome, never to return again for some people. However, I believe that for other people—like me, it keeps me humble and relying on God to continually rebuke the anxious thoughts and feelings that can creep up into my mind and spirit.
Anxiety was so pervasive in my life from as far back as I can remember. And that anxiety was coupled with fear and depression. I feel that anxiety always comes coupled with fear and depression. I have never met a person who had anxiety and didn't battle fear and depression also.
I feel that when my anxiety and fear struck at me that I became angrier and more forceful in my talk and actions. I chalked it up to being a hardened mother/woman. I was constantly trying to mitigate the impact on my life so that I could stay functional. So that I could perform up to my perfection, type A mindset. Which breeds more anxiety and depression because I was never good enough. I was never producing perfect results the way I believed they should be. My mind would continue in a constant state of overload and inundated thoughts of unworthiness. Thoughts of failure as a mother, wife, friend, professional constantly spiraling. The spiral increasing my anxiety, depression, and feelings of unworthiness. And the fear would pound away even more. An unrelenting string of accusations and worries that filled every waking moment.
The constant influx of mental anguish that would replay every wrong move I made, or said, or did would then produce a depression episode that kept me under a tide of depression and fear. And then the anxiety would ramp again and again. I lived under a constant state of emotional overload as the roller coaster of emotions would go up and down all day long.
I've had two stomach ulcers in my short lifetime. One right as I turned thirty years old. Thankfully, at that time I had an amazing naturopathic doctor that was able to keep me off of pharmaceutical medications that further damage the function of the stomach and body. (While I do not love how western medicine is marketed, used and abused, I am not completely anti-pharmaceuticals. I believe that they have a place and use when done in conjunction with naturopathic remedies and holistic treatments.)
How is it that in our day and age with so many comforts and resources that we are a nation plagued by anxious, depressed, and fearful people?
As Christians we have something far greater to define our lives. We have the power and energy of Jesus Christ which overcame death, sin, and sadness to be our healer, redeemer, and savior. Yet, Christians battle anxiety and depression just as much as the population that do not claim belief in Christ as Lord and Savior.
I am a Christian. At the age of thirteen I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and my Savior. However, just because we, Christians have Christ and the Holy Spirit dwelling within us, we still as a collective whole have not overcome anxiety and depression. We have just as high rates of divorce, substance abuse, and depression etc. as the rest of the population.
Why would Christians not be different on all levels since we have the power of the living God within us?
Why aren't we digging into the word of God and standing on His promises and speaking His promises over us and our life?
The noise of our busy world drowns out the simple ability to sit down and delve into the word of God. We're so busy rushing from place to place and watching T.V. and sleeping in until right before we need to leave that we don't make the time to spend really studying God's word and applying it.
I was shocked that my mindsets about being a type A person was fueling my anxiety, depression, and fear. I thought it was a badge of honor to be a stressed out, overwhelmed, super busy mom of 3.
I kept receiving the messages from society that my worth was found in how busy and overwhelmed I was. I kept hearing from friends how proud of me they were for juggling all the tasks and responsibilities I had. They meant well. They wanted to lift me up and encourage me—but the overwhelm of trying to do it all and be all to everyone and maintain perfection in every area with every task was tearing me apart.
My husband never asked me to keep a perfect home. My children never asked me to be perfect. My own mind would scream at me over every minor infraction perceived as below the standard of acceptability.
I demanded of myself to keep up and to keep everything clean and running. But, it really wasn't running well. The funny and ironic part, looking back now, is that my anxiety actually produced worsening behavior and functionality. I would vacillate between everything together because I was pushing myself so hard and I was so miserable to tasking falling to the wayside, exhaustion, and the onslaught of emotions that spiraled from the unfinished tasks or the half-done tasks. I would continually berate myself. I would speak about my failures over and over. I would speak about the stress and the busyness—I was essentially speaking death over myself and my life by the negative words and complaining that I did and that I allowed my mind to run rampant with.
Life and death are in the tongue as the Bible says. The more we state what we are the more we become what we state. So many women around me say that they are "so busy" looking for affirmation that they are enough and worthy. Explaining how many things they must do this week or the next—over booked, no sleep, no quiet time with the Lord to recharge. Constantly telling anyone who will listen that they aren't good mothers or are overwhelmed and stressed. These words lead to more and more anxiety in our minds.
Our culture is encouraging us over and over to buy more, to do more, to be more. Bigger houses, big cars, more activities, more debt, working so much, plugged into our phones constantly—no quiet time with the Lord to recharge.
We're looking at ourselves and judging every move. Almost every mother I encounter tells me that she feels like a failure as a mother.
How did we get here!? Why are we encouraging each other to greater and greater heights of overwhelm and anxiety?
We as Christians must stop shying away from talking about the devil that seeks to steal and destroy. It makes us uncomfortable to talk about Satan or mention him to others. In our culture we have moved so far away from certain spiritual ideologies that we no longer feel comfortable speaking about the enemy of Christ and the enemy of this world—and that's just the way Satan likes it!
If we stop talking about Satan/devil/the enemy, then we can no longer defeat our enemy. We don't even know we are in a spiritual fight—so we don't even battle! We are constantly losing to the enemy of this world! How do we win, if we don’t fight!
From Adam and Eve till now the enemy has sought to draw us away from God's word. Christ defeated the enemy with the word of God. When offered the fruit of the tree by the snake, Eve didn't employ the word of the Lord or call out to Him—and yet she walked in the cool of the morning with the Lord. When the enemy told her that God had lied, Eve didn't even question the serpent's assertion or call out to the Lord for Him to defend His statute He had enacted. She knew in her heart of heart that the Lord was right and true—but she wanted the knowledge and power that the enemy so cleverly presented. She wanted more, more, more—not knowing how negative and devastating it would be to her life. And so that is us—wanting more, more, more—never spending time in God's word. The enemy tantalizing us with whispers that we will be more satisfied and more happy if we keep adding more to our list of things to do. The enemy constantly whispering at us that we are unworthy and not good enough and must strive harder. And we don't even rebuke these thoughts with the word of God.
Never speaking God's word over our lives or to the temptations that the enemy slings at our minds is the biggest trap that pulls us down into the mire of anxiety and depression. We're not realizing that the more we are seeking—the power over our lives—the perfection—the accolades—they are just tearing us apart.
How to overcome anxiety? You're seeing what I'm driving at. You see that God's word has power. You see that the enemy seeks to tear you down and tear you away from God's powerful word that renews our strength.
To truly overcome anxiety, it is not as easy as a pill, or one Bible verse, or one prayer prayed.
I know that to overcome anxiety in your life it will take effort. It will take work. It will take time in God's word EVERY day. My coach Hannah Keeley explains that the devil seeks to give us spiritual amnesia. The enemy steals the word away from us if we go to long without the manna of the word of God.
Intentional is my word over this year. We must intentionally dig into the word. We must intentionally carve out time in the morning to read the word of God, pray to Him, and think/meditate to hear how and what God is telling us to do to overcome the strongholds like anxiety, depression, fear, and worry.
We must intentionally seek out the tools that God is going to use to help us overcome the stronghold of anxiety. We must intentionally say no and no thank you to the increasing demands on our time. We must intentionally put the remote down and go to bed earlier. We must intentionally tell ourselves that "busy" is not a positive word. We must intentionally own our behavior and what we say yes and no to. We must intentionally speak God's word over ourselves. We are loved and worthy because Christ first loved us and died for us. We must intentionally tell ourselves that perfection is not worthy. There is no such thing as perfection. The only person perfect is God, Christ, & The Holy Spirit.
We must intentionally plug in every day to inspiration talks, coaching sessions, and praise music. We must intentionally shun music that tears us down, T.V. that robs us of truth and power. Ours is a spiritual battle. And if you are deep in anxiety and depression it is going to take all the above. And if it is so deep and overwhelming then I encourage you to find an experienced Christian counselor and acupuncture, medications or herbs to go along with the intentional work of counseling.
It is so easy to escape life in television and social media. It is hard at first to plug into daily habits and routines that create the abundant joyful life—BUT, then suddenly it becomes so much easier to triumph over the things that tear down like anxiety, depression, fear. And once the light starts dawning the tools and truth become easier to stand on and easier to employ daily.
Let's pray: Lord God almighty, we worship and praise You. We praise You for You are God alone. You are the creator of the heavens and earth. You Lord Jesus made a way for us to come in relationship with the Holiest of Holy. You made a way for us to overcome sin, death, sadness, bondage, brokenness, strongholds, and feelings of unworthiness.
Lord Jesus we cry out to you today for each and every person struggling with feelings of unworthiness, depression, anxiety, fear, and sadness. I humbly beseech You to help each person reaching out for help to find the tools, verses, and healing energy from You that they need.
Lord Jesus I pray that You would help them to fight against feelings of defeat and to infuse them with the energy to do the work necessary to heal from the strongholds they are battling.
Lord Jesus we know that this broken world and that the enemy seeks to hold us back from Your word and Your peace. Lord Jesus I pray that You would rebuke the evil one away from this precious child of Yours and help them to dig deep into the word and stay in the word daily. I pray that You would help them to fight the desire to procrastinate finding the hard truth and hard work they need to create the abundant life in You Jesus.
I pray that You would help shift their mindsets and help them discover peace in the midst of the rolling waves of trials and tribulations that come from this broken world.
Lord Jesus we adore and worship You alone! You are our cornerstone! Hosanna in the highest! Our redeemer, our savior, our creator that loves us with a fierce and powerful love. Help us delight in You and give our whole mind to the transformation process that You want for us. In Jesus Christ precious Holy Name, Amen!
Verses To Stand On And Renew Your Mind With:
Isaiah 41: 10 ‘Do not fear, for I am with you;
Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you, surely I will help you,
Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’
Proverbs 12:25 Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs it down, But a good word makes it glad.
1 Peter 5:7 casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.
Psalm 94:19 When my anxious thoughts multiply within me, Your consolations delight my soul.
Isaiah 35:4 Say to those with anxious heart, “Take courage, fear not. Behold, your God will come with vengeance; The recompense of God will come, But He will save you.”
Jeremiah 17:8 “For he will be like a tree planted by the water, That extends its roots by a stream And will not fear when the heat comes; But its leaves will be green, And it will not be anxious in a year of drought Nor cease to yield fruit.
Philippians 4:6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
Genesis 15:1 [ Abram Promised a Son ] After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision, saying, “Do not fear, Abram, I am a shield to you; Your reward shall be very great.”