Frustration is almost always the result of our will not happening. And for us humans, it’s universally about our wanting to impose our will into a situation. It’s about needing to control things or people. The concept of control is not only the root of our frustrations but also the root of our fears and our anxieties in life, which can be detrimental not only to our lives but also to the lives of all those that we love and those we interact with.
The cause of fear and anxiety is often a perceived loss of control over one’s life, especially of our children and other people that we have responsibility for. Fear and anxiety are produced when we feel that we are unable to find any solutions or escapes from situations that negatively affect our lives.
However, sound guided choices are the defining hallmark of Christian lives. But fear and anxiety cripple that ability. Making choices based on fear and anxiety often leads to more fear and anxiety ending in disastrous results. We need to have a clear head to understand our fears or anxieties and to realize our inherent need to grab control. As we see more and more turmoil in the world, it is imperative that we do not allow ourselves to become paralyzed.
The meaning of fear that I am talking about it that of anxious concern or anxiety. Anxiety is a conscious, subjective state described as an emotion that is characterized by feelings of apprehension, fear, uneasiness, worry, and concern.
Anxiety is an unpleasant anticipation of some kind of misfortune, danger, doom or as simple as things not going the way we planned. Frustration and anxiety are accompanied with tension and restless feelings that something must be done. It motivates us to give birth to behaviors that can often be contrary to how God would want His followers to respond to a situation.
An examination of scripture gives us understanding of how God views anxiety (Matthew 6:25-31). It’s the preferred way to look at anything in our lives. In these verses the Greek word is translated “worry”. In the Parable of the Sower its usage comes from its noun meaning “to be anxious, or to care for”: “Now he who received seed among the thorns is he who hears the word, and the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful (Matthew 13:22).
This situation is about ‘doing what you shouldn’t do’ because of certain cares, certain worries, and anxiety. Vine’s Expository Dictionary defines the Greek again for the word cares as “that which causes [anxiety].” It’s not that you care about something. It’s a care to the point where it builds up anxiety in you, “especially an anxious care”. Vine’s Expository Dictionary also points out that the word is derived from the Greek word which means to divide. Take something and divide it.
Mark 3:24-25 is about anxious cares which divides. We find that a mind filled with anxiety, a mind that has so many anxious cares going on inside of it, is a divided or a distracted mind.
Basically, a mind filled with anxiety expresses subconscious thoughts that siphon away from the part of the brain that can stop and think, and it short circuits that thinking process. Decisions that are made when we are not thinking are not the best decisions. Acting impulsively distracts and divides us from what we should be thinking about to determine the best direction that will resolve the situation.
The parable of the Sower (Matthew 13:22) teaches us that if we allow our anxieties to grow unchecked that it will make us unfruitful. It gets in the way of the fruits of the spirit growing. Our anxieties can literally surround us like thorns and strangle us.
Anxieties prevent or get in the way of our living the spiritual life God has asked us to live. It slows us. It hinders us. It’s like a ball and chain. Not only does fear in the form of anxiety have a devastating effect on our lives from a spiritual point of view, but it also has physical ones. There are several symptoms we all manifest when anxious whether we are aware of our state of anxiety or not.
Behavior symptoms include:
Irritability or frustration is one aspect of anxiety.
Fidgetiness has to do with your body is ready to move or pounce at any time.
Talking too much: Do you feel a need to explain your feelings to someone? Or fear that you might be misunderstood so you must explain yourself. I have several people in my life that are that way. I’m one of those that feel like I need to really explain.
Poor sleep is a good sign: where does the anxiety and the chemicals that may keep you from sleeping begin because they are tied together? Anxiety creates certain chemicals in your body. Or you may just have poor sleeping habits that need to change.
Defensiveness or self-justification: Anxiety is a large part of this.
Losing interest in life. Those things that we used to enjoy doing we just don’t find enjoyment in because of the stress and the distraction.
Physiological symptoms of anxiety include:
Excessive perspiration and rashes
A quivering voice
Constriction in the chest like you can’t breathe
I want to discuss overcoming anxiety in three sections. First what we can do physically to break a cycle. The second is what we can do mentally and the third one is about the way we need to think spiritually.
What we can do physically:
Exercise at least three times a week to relieve stress.
Change your diet. Stay away from excessive use of alcohol and excessive amounts of stimulants like caffeine, and sodas and sugar.
Get needed rest. Too little sleep lowers serotonin levels.
Recreate: When we suffer from anxiety we tend to bury ourselves in work. Stop to break the cycle; create hobbies, get out in nature.
Those are the physical things that are most important. Don’t underestimate how important those four items are.
Mentally we can simplify our lives, stop procrastinating, take one day at a time and become self-aware. Procrastination un-simplifies our life. We must deal with the issues before they become bigger and hit all at once. Plan for the future but instead of worrying about what’s going to go wrong two weeks in the future, think, “today” this is what I’ve got in my bucket.
Being self-aware is about why am I feeling frustrated or anxious? Not who’s causing it, or what’s causing it? Most psychologists say when someone shares with them what is happening, “How does that make you feel?” That’s the wrong way.
Cognitive psychologists don’t ask “How did that make you feel?” They ask, “Why did it make you feel that way?” We have to think about why we think the way we do. Improper thinking is what creates the majority of our anxieties. There are real fears in the world; real circumstances that create fears. But many times our anxieties are because we are thinking the wrong way about whatever the situation is. We need to think about why we’re thinking like that. Then we can be more proactive in life and start thinking correctly and apply real solutions. Seeking God’s insights in this process is invaluable when a solution is needed. It is never helpful to just ignore our anxiety and how to resolve it.
Mentally we need to think positive thoughts. Force oneself to be aware of thoughts that are negative. When you find yourself getting anxious, stop, relax and begin thinking on positive things:
“Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy — meditate on these things” (Philippians 4:8).
The idea is that we ask God to show us exactly what we can learn when things go wrong. What value, what virtue can we gain from what’s happening?
From a spiritual perspective, we must deeply recognize that our anxieties do inhibit us from accomplishing the will of God in our lives and also inhibit our assisting those who rely on us. Subjectively we’re incapable of helping others and even hurting ourselves in our thinking.
God gave instruction to Joshua on how to overcome his fear and anxiousness when facing a formidable enemy army. We can apply this to ourselves:
“Be strong and of good courage, for to this people you shall divide as an inheritance the land which I swore to their fathers to give them. Only be strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may prosper wherever you go” (Joshua 1:6-7).
We must realize how rooted and hidden our fears are and ask God to reveal our thought patterns to us so we can choose the correct way to think about our life’s circumstances. God can remove our anxiety. He will define them for us, and help us to overcome them (Romans 8:27-31).
God is in charge. That is one of our biggest battles. We have anxieties because we want to grab the controls for ourselves instead of saying, “You’re in charge”. That doesn’t mean we don’t do anything. God’s desire is for our good, so if our thinking is wrong it’s got to change because it leads us from God. But He wins our battles for us when we give Him the control (Romans 8:37-39).
Our thoughts and our choices are truly the only thing that we have control over. We are free moral agents and we have to choose to look at what we’re doing and why. God encourages His followers to pray for peace, courage, and a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:6). He also asks us to be anxious for nothing, but in everything let our requests be made known to Him by prayer (Philippians 4:6-7).
We must not allow our minds to become divided and distracted. He asks us not to worry about what we will eat, drink, or wear. He know we need all these things. He wants our priorities to be seeking His righteousness, His nature (Matthew 6:31-33).
We must also pray for God’s love to perfect us and to remove all anxiety (1 John 4:17-19).
We know love because of the love that He first gave to us. God’s love, when complete in us, drives away all fear. When we become more and more like Christ, having His love in us, we become more out flowing. Not subjective, but outgoing. Fear and anxiety are internally conceived anchored in the concept of self. It starts there. We’re thinking about ourselves which is naturally inward and selfish.
When love is flowing out, our thoughts turn to others rather than to ourselves and the fear based in ourselves leaves. When it’s all flowing out the anxiety goes with it. It’s the love that covers it up instead of the fear and the worry about ourself. Let God’s love in us cast out the fear by overriding it. Look to the needs of others and cut short all that we do or think that is detrimental to our spiritual health.
The anxieties that get in our way, the Father and Christ can conquer for us. When that is lifted we will be able to see the God family for who They are and be able to strongly get behind Them and accomplish Their work for all humanity even more.