It’s time for me to answer the whole where does faith come into play when it comes to anxiety. I’m going to be using the word God throughout and my own experiences as a Christian but feel free to use the term that feels most comfortable for you.
This has come about because I’ve been reading and hearing a few things lately that anxiety is something that can simply be just prayed away. That somehow if you laid all of your burdens at Jesus’ feet everything would just magically disappear and let’s face it, that’s just one up from throwing a coin backwards into the Trevi Fountain and making a wish.
Now please. Don’t misunderstand me.
I am not saying prayer doesn’t work.
I’m not saying that laying your burdens down at Jesus’ feet doesn’t have any merit.
Because they both are equally important.
I’m saying anxiety and depression is not something that can simply be just prayed away.
(Again, I’m sure it has happened and people can attest to the amazing miraculous power of God in their life).
I believe wholeheartedly in the mind body connection.
I also believe that like an asthmatic needs a Ventolin puffer to help them breathe more effortless, an anxious person needs medicine to breathe more easily as well.
That medicine may actually be in the form of a pharmaceutical drug.
Or perhaps it may be a herbal supplement like St John’s Wort or Kava.
Maybe it might be counselling.
Or art therapy.
Or the powerful effective prayer of a pastor.
To simply say ‘cast all of your burdens at Jesus’ feet and he will sustain you’ (Psalms 55:22) without taking a holistic approach to treatment and understanding that it’s not always just ‘a series of bad thoughts or worries’ is dangerous and frankly scaremongering. It’s like telling the asthmatic to not take her puffer and to just believe and you will be healed.
Some of us have perhaps been taught that if you tell God you’re anxious it’s a sign that you don’t trust and evidence that you don’t have faith.
But I believe the very nature of faith is to actually ask questions.
Yes cast your burdens on God but know he also gives wisdom to our doctors, counsellors and pastors to help us with our anxieties. Is that not also an amazing thing?
It is also not just a matter of being worried or being consumed with thoughts. Sometimes it is a state of being. As someone who has suffered Post Traumatic Stress I can attest that anxiety for me has very much been about protection. I have memories tucked back away in my mind that have been protecting me, especially during a time when I had to go into survival mode. (Read my about me page for details).
I am working with a psychotherapist to unlock the reasons why I get anxiety and slowly I am building up resilience in particular areas where I never had it before.
I am slowly starting to speak up when I don’t agree with something and I’m expressing my feelings far more clearly.
I have been on pharmaceuticals before. Avanza to be precise and it was just what I needed to help me get through that tough patch. It helped me to sleep when I couldn’t sleep and to eat when I wasn’t hungry. I felt like I was me again.
And even though I’m managing my anxiety without pharmaceuticals currently, doesn’t mean that I won’t ever have to go back on them. In fact, there have been times where I have been paper thin close to taking them again. I have a box of tablets in my cupboard ready to go if I need to.
Right now though I am managing through a combination of treatments. I use Neurocalm and Kava. I exercise and meditate. I pray. I journal and try to unlock my unconscious mind. I sing and dance my little heart out to worship songs to remind myself who I am in Christ. I regularly speak with a Christian psychotherapist who sees the whole me. I’m not broken; I’m whole but with hurts. Having anxiety does not mean I lack faith or don’t have a passionate belief in God. It means that I have lived.
Please know if you are one of those people who have told others to just pray and it will go away, this is not an attack on you.
It’s simply just asking for understanding. An understanding that more often than not we have a passionate belief in God but have weathered life’s trials. You can pray for us, sure but please know if my anxiety hasn’t gone, it doesn’t mean I’m a heathen or that I lack faith. It means that my brain’s neurotransmitters (the brain’s chemicals that communicate information throughout the brain and body), may not be functioning to optimal capacity right now and your loving on me will do the world of good.
No advice required.
Just pure love.
If you’d love to move forward in life knowing that you’ve got someone to be accountable to that knows what living with anxiety is like, I’m here to help. Email me: firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s unravel areas in your life where anxiety has been holding you back from choosing that particular job, or travelling, or even getting out of the house and making friends. I’d love to support you.
Comment below and let me know what spiritual advice or comment you’ve been given that made you feel like your anxiety wasn’t taken seriously. I’d love to know. Please share using the buttons below if you loved the post.