Are you struggling with anxiety as a Christian? What is the key to managing Christian anxiety?
In Get Out of Your Head, Jennie Allen writes about the various inner battles Christian people face. One of these inner battles is against Christian anxiety and fear. Understanding how to confront your fears and inner lies will help to improve your mental well-being.
Find out how to deal with Christian anxiety below.
Dealing With Christian Anxiety
When dealing with anxiety as a Christian, the main cause is fear. More specifically, it’s the fear that God isn’t actually in control of the world and your life.
Some typical thoughts associated with Christian anxiety include the following. Look for these in your own mind:
- What if my worst nightmare comes true?
- What will I do if [insert awful thing] happens?
- Everything’s out of control.
- I’m not good enough to handle this.
- I probably said that the wrong way (or they took it the wrong way).
Create a Mental Story Map
Here’s how to create a mental story map to deal with Christian anxiety:
- Step 1: Draw your map.
- Write down your current primary emotion. Draw a circle around it.
- Around the circle, write contributing factors. Unfinished work? A relationship? Money? Circle each and draw a line to the central emotion.
- Near each smaller circle, list how it contributes to your current emotion.
- Step 2: Talk to God.
- Pray through each item.
- Search the scriptures for relevant truths.
- Ask God to reveal wrong thoughts about himself and yourself.
- Step 3: Look for common patterns and themes in your map items (anxiety about things you can’t control? anger at insults? self-criticism?).
- Step 4: Notice the storyline your thoughts build about God. Is it true or false?
(Shortform note: To learn a similar approach to “minding your mind,” read our summary of Cognitive Behavior Therapy: Basics and Beyond.)
Use a variation on the mental story map tool that you learned in Part 1. This variation combines that tool with the strategy from Chapter 8 for reframing negative thoughts.
- Step 1: Write down one of your current anxious thoughts.
- Step 2: “Diagnose” the thought: Is it actually true?
- Step 3: Consider what God says about the thought. Does he say it’s true? Consult scripture and trusted friends and mentors in your faith community to get their input.
- Step 4: Make a choice: Who are you going to believe? God or the lie?
For every one of the enemy’s lies, find a scripture that directly contradicts it and replaces it. This strategy can be especially effective when combined with the strategy directly above. For example, if you’re afraid of everyone abandoning you, then you could replace this with God’s promise in Hebrews 13:5-6 that he will never abandon you. If you’re afraid of failing publicly, you could replace this with God’s promise in 2 Corinthians 12:9-11 that he takes weakness and uses it for his glory. (Shortform note: Many modern editions of the Bible contain a listing of scripture verses and passages grouped by theme. You can use this to identify biblical thoughts for replacing the enemy’s lies.)
Here’s a visual showing the negative spiral of fear and how you can reverse it by choosing to surrender to God:
Exercise: Analyze Your Fears
Jennie Allen’s book presents several strategies for surrendering your fears to God. This exercise leads you through practicing one of these, to beat Christian anxiety:
Write one of your chief fears, something that persistently causes you anxiety and has the potential to knock you into a toxic thought spiral. (Are you afraid of close relationships? Do you suffer from anxious thoughts about failing publicly at your job? Do you lose sleep because you’re afraid for your family’s safety?
- What is the enemy’s lie that fuels this fear?
- What is one scriptural truth that contradicts or replaces this fear?
- What additional strategies can you use to surrender the fear to God? (For example, apply Philippians 4:6-7; spend time reflecting on God as the deepest and truest reality; pay attention to the manifestation of your fear in your body; use the modified mental story map tool). How will you practice them? If applicable, practice them now.
The above exercises will help you deal with Christian anxiety and confront your fears.