This is our penultimate week of preparation for Easter. It’s also our next-to-last look at how to fight fear in our lives. I just listened to Chris Tomlin’s song, Whom Shall I Fear, with the line, “The God of angel armies is always by my side.” What more could we ask to uphold our courage?
The book we focus on this week is Worry Free Living, by Frank Minirth, M.D., Paul Meier, M.D., and Don Hawkins, Th.M. Though it was published in 1989, it still holds great insight, and used copies are available on Amazon. Written by two psychiatrists and a minister, this book pulls together guidance for our minds and our hearts.
The authors believe we experience anxiety when we are afraid to look at a negative emotion inside us, such as, anger, guilt, lust, or resentment. The Holy Spirit uses anxiety to draw our attention to something that needs to be aired. Though we might not want to admit a hidden truth, we must uncover it, and forgive ourselves or someone else or ask for forgiveness, in order to rid ourselves of anxiety. Forgiveness involves becoming aware of our anger and then choosing not to hold the offense against the person, in order to unburden ourselves. We decide not to seek revenge or even dwell on the offense. We don’t lick our wounds.
As we’ve read from other authors, a little anxiety can be a good thing, if it helps us prepare or encourages us to work in order to dispel the worry. Too much anxiety can lead to defense mechanisms, phobias, mental disorders, addictions, physical complications, and spiritual hopelessness. Sometimes professional help is necessary, but the authors suggest steps of self-help can prevent or alleviate anxiety for most of us:
- Meditate daily, including meditation on Scripture.
- Condition yourself to relax, using a repetitive phrase (like our affirmations) or visualizing a beautiful place to calm yourself.
- Listen to soothing music.
- Talk through problems to vent the pressure with someone you trust, and listen to theirs, too
- Limit your worry to a 15-minute time slot and push aside worries until that time (As a parent, when my girls became highly anxious we would walk around the block once or twice, limiting our expressing-worry time to that walk.
- Live one day at a time, not thinking “what if” about the future, or “if only” about the past.
- Design an Action Plan. Do something to lessen your anxiety, for instance take an assertiveness class if you have trouble expressing your wants and needs.
- Cultivate awareness of God’s presence with you. (Our God of angel armies!)
- Decide to obey God, both to avoid guilt, a source of anxiety, and because He commands us not to worry.
- Replace worry with prayer.
- Give up faulty beliefs, like perfectionism or the necessity of winning approval from all.
- Adopt a healthy lifestyle in the areas of sleep, diet, recreation, and exercise.
- Examine your self-talk and replace the negative with positive. Replace a low self-image with a sense of your worth as a child of God.
- Grow in intimacy with others. Reach out, build healthy friendships. If you aren’t able to do this, then reach out to a counselor to help you learn how. A good friend offers love, peace, open communication, mutual improvement, and refreshment.
- Grow in intimacy with God through prayer, Scripture, and meditation. Since God is for us, who can be against?
I suspect each reader has methods they use to counter fear and anxiety. As we mature, we adopt methods of self-soothing. I tell myself, “I’m safe right now.” One reader emailed that she prays, “Jesus, I trust in You.” Another reminds herself to “claim my power” or “take control of my life”.
How do you fight fear?