One of the first things I encountered when I started having anxiety and panic attacks was the myths and stigma from people of faith.
I was a mom and had never experienced severe anxiety before. I was really shy about this taboo subject of mental health. I am an encourager by nature, serving as a Bible teacher and leader in church ministries. I didn’t want other people to think there was something wrong with my faith, but unfortunately, those were some of the first responses that I got.
Maybe you’re not praying enough?
Maybe there’s a hidden sin you’re not addressing?
Maybe you’re not reading the Bible enough or trusting God enough?
Although they were well-meaning, these words hurt me.
Do you identify with any of these questions of doubt? Have you ever felt stuck in a cycle of worry, stress, or anxiety? It’s easy to feel so isolated. But, we are not alone. God is with us! And rather than judge each other, we can encourage each other.
While researching what both Scripture and science had to say about anxiety, I discovered that many people were grossly misinformed about anxiety.
Today, I want to share the three biggest lies I encountered and three powerful truths that helped me let go of guilt and shame. I know these will encourage you too! So, pour yourself a cup of tea as you soak in the goodness for your soul!
MYTH #1: Jesus commanded us not to worry, so if you worry, you are sinning.
TRUTH #1: Jesus encourages us not to worry about money.
In Matthew 6:25, Jesus was not issuing a command that makes worry an act of sin. Rather, He is reassuring us with words of encouragement! So that when we do worry, we don’t have to stay worried. Jesus was reminding us that just as our Heavenly Father takes care of the birds and flowers, He will take care of us!
So when you’re buckling under the weight of worry, try this: In a soothing, loving voice, with kindness to yourself, whisper Jesus’ words, “So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself…” (Matthew 6:34 NASB). Doesn’t it change the whole feel of loving encouragement? So be at peace, sister. God understands why you worry, and He loves you. He is a God of comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles (2 Corinthians 1:4).
MYTH #2: If you don’t have peace or joy, you must not be trusting God enough.
TRUTH #2: Emotional honesty is part of faith, and faith is the intimate act of trusting God with your real self instead of hiding how you feel or trying to do or be more.
Jesus tenderly whispers, “Don’t hide.” He invites us to come, and He promises to give rest to our souls (Matthew 11:28). We’re invited to come to Him weary, confused, numb, anxious, angry, or stressed. Jesus tells us to simply come as we are — imperfectly His.
MYTH #3: If you read God’s Word more, pray more, praise more, give thanks more, you will not struggle with the past.
TRUTH #3: Faith is not emotional amnesia. Faith gives us courage to face the brokenness of life and heal from the losses we’ve suffered.
Jesus Himself obeyed, prayed, praised, and gave thanks perfectly. Yet He suffered emotional trauma, overwhelmed by impending physical and emotional abuse, abandonment and betrayal. (See Mark 14:34-35.) In His human form, Jesus models full dependence on the Father. Jesus entrusts His present pain and His future into God’s loving hands.
When the Apostle Paul encourages us not to be anxious but to pray, give thanks, and present our requests to God (Philippians 4:6-7), he is pointing us to the peace available when we take our problems to God, rather than striving for peace based on our own ability to resolve our struggles.
Therefore friends, whatever you are facing today, just breathe. God knows the truth of your challenges and He loves you unconditionally. God will take care of you.
Preorder Bonnie’s new book, Breathe and then sign up for her FREE Breathe Online Bible Study: 21 Ways to Stress Less and Transform Chaos to Calm to break free from worry, stress, and anxiety in the new year. (Starts January 10 – click here).