For years, Christian women have been told, “If you just prayed more, had more faith, and trusted Jesus, you’d have more peace.” But what does it mean when a Christian momma continues to worry? How does she reconcile her feelings of fear with her faith in God? And how does she raise her children in a home full of peace when she feels anything but peaceful? Becky Thompson knows firsthand what it is like to suffer from the crippling effects of anxiety. As Becky examines the relationship between the promise of peace in Scripture and the reality of life, motherhood, and anxiety, she brings both a practical and spiritual approach to the discussion of anxiety and how it impacts mind, body, and spirit. It’s a grace to welcome Becky to the farm’s front porch today…
About a year ago, I woke up one morning and felt nervous about everything but nothing specific.
I closed my eyes and tried to remember what I was worried about exactly. We had made a cross-country move from Oklahoma to California on a giant God adventure just about six months before. Despite the big leap we had never felt more strongly that God was leading us daily. He was meeting all our needs, but despite how great everything seemed, that morning I woke up afraid.
Here’s the way I describe this sort of feeling to friends or family who don’t deal with chronic anxiety:
Imagine your alarm clock goes off and you open your eyes, knowing you’re going to face something that day that will bring you to a fearful place. It’s the same feeling someone might experience if she was afraid of the dentist and had a nine o’clock appointment, if she was about to take a big exam she didn’t feel prepared for, or if she needed to make a speech and was terrified of public speaking.
The difference is, when fear comes without a cause, we don’t have that hope of getting to the other side of the situation. There’s no deep sigh of relief and release of stress once it’s done and over with.
There’s just the lingering unrest of an unidentified dread. And in that restless place of worry, we can begin to look for and create unrealistic fears that feel very, very real.
That’s how I felt that morning one year ago. My heart sank. It was as though something terrible had happened or was about to happen, yet everything was just about as good as it could be. I had nothing to be worried about, yet I was nervous about the day.
I know how anxious momma hearts work. I think, deep down, one of our biggest worries as Christian women is what our fear says about our faith.
We think to ourselves, If God tells me to fear not and if Jesus tells me He has given me His peace, yet I am still afraid, then what does that say about what I believe at my core? So we worry. We worry because we deal with anxiety, and then we worry about what the anxiety says about who we are.
On top of all that, we worry about what other people would say if they found out about our silent struggle. And so, instead of feeling overwhelmed and crying out we wander through this darkness alone, willing ourselves to just be better.
You wonder how you can call yourself a devoted follower of Christ when many days you’ve got an anxious heart and a racing mind. You wonder how you can point to Him as the answer for yourself and others when you’ve called on Him for peace but you still wake up afraid some days. You worry what the anxiety you feel says about who you are as a Christian woman. And you can’t talk to others about it because the shame keeps you silent.
Anxiety does not disqualify you from being a woman full of faith.
You might have been trained to believe that the anxiety you feel disqualifies you from being considered a faith-filled woman. You might have grown up doubting your relationship with Jesus, or you might have been told in your adult years that something is wrong with your relationship with Him because you have panic attacks. You might have been told this by people you trust in church leadership. But it’s simply not true.
You can feel afraid and know God is in control.
You can feel anxious and know God is good.
Because you are not what you feel, and sometimes our bodies don’t line up with what our spirits know is true.
What you are is a spirit who lives in a body—a broken body. Your brokenness might look different from others’. Your brokenness might manifest mentally or show up in your emotions or be a result of some physical dysfunction that you have no control over.
But make no mistake: You and I—and the rest of the entire world—live in broken flesh. The fact that we will all die proves this is true. Our brokenness just doesn’t always look like everyone else’s.
Yet God does not leave us in our brokenness.
Every person—except for Jesus—whom God used to carry out His work on earth has been just as broken as you and me. We are all broken folks used by God in some way to expand His kingdom and bring all the other broken folks back into a relationship with the Father.
Why is this important? Your anxiety, your fear, your mind, your emotions, and the way your brokenness affects your life do not disqualify you from knowing, loving, and serving the Lord and from being used by Him. You and your heart and your life are a needed asset to the kingdom of God!
Feeling afraid doesn’t disqualify you from being used by Jesus any more than chronic migraines or allergies to foods prevent one of our brothers or sisters from preaching the gospel of hope and healing. The fall of humankind at the beginning of time meant we would all be faulty on some level. It is the reason we all need Jesus.
So, let’s exclaim this truth over the lie that says we are to blame for our anxiety. Ready?
God does not fault the anxious woman for her anxiety. He came so that she—we—could be free!
And whether that freedom comes by the vehicle of counseling, medication, vitamins, or an encounter with His presence that radically and miraculously reorganizes your DNA, our job is to trust and follow Him and take every step He says to take.
We do not have to be afraid of feeling afraid. God sent His Spirit and gave us His Word so that we could walk through this dark world with a lamp to our feet and a light to our path, and He gave us one another so we wouldn’t have to walk this road alone.
Sister, hold that lamp up a little higher because what you see here and whom you see in this space with you just might surprise you.
Becky Thompson is a speaker, podcast host and best-selling author of six books, including her newest book, Peace: Hope and Healing for the Anxious Momma’s Heart.
Becky knows firsthand what it is like to suffer from the crippling effects of anxiety–a condition she has struggled to overcome for most of her life. For her and many others, the fear she faces is not a faith issue. It’s a physical one that affects over 40 million adults in the US.
As Becky examines the relationship between the promise of peace in Scripture and the reality of life, motherhood, and anxiety, she brings both a practical and spiritual approach to the discussion of anxiety and how it impacts your mind, body, and spirit.
Peace meets moms in the forest of fear where they have felt isolated and alone and walks them toward hope, reminding them that there are millions of other women who walk the same dark, uncertain trails they do and there isn’t something wrong with their faith because they can’t shake the fear.
Peace: Hope and Healing for the Anxious Momma’s Heart, is a lifeline for the Christian mom desperate for solid advice based on sound doctrine and presented in a way that makes her feel understood and far less alone on her journey toward healing.
[ Our humble thanks to Waterbrook for their partnership in today’s devotion ]