“Moving on” was the topic in our recovery workshops tonight. Specifically, we talked a lot about the emotions that seem to keep us from being able to move on, the ones that seem to stop us in our tracks: fear, worry, and anxiety. The path ahead following a crisis in our life like death, divorce, illness, job loss…you name it, it’s hard. It’s lonely. It’s full of unknowns, full of unanswered questions. How will I make it?
Fear exists to warn us of possible harm, which isn’t always a bad thing. Anxiety kicks in when we sense that we can’t control what will happen. Worry is entertaining the what-if’s. All are signals that something is drastically wrong, and we’re wise to heed the warning…danger straight ahead! So, what can we do? We came up with some ideas tonight that I think are really valuable. First, we get God involved. He is bigger that the mountains we face. We can ask Him in a prayer to work in the things we are afraid of. Is it living alone? Surviving as a single parent? Covering the rent? Finding a new job? Get specific and ask God to help. List out things you’re afraid of, and just talk to Him about them. You can ask a couple of close friends that you can be real with to help you work through that list, too. No need to go it alone.
I really like the idea of making lists. Lists help me to remember things and keep my priorities straight. What is really on my plate today? What CAN I control or get done? What are the things that only I can do versus what somebody else can do? That’s a list we can focus on. Meanwhile, we can make another list of things we can’t control, can’t change, can’t fix, or can’t move forward on today. That list becomes what we take to God in prayer and ask Him to help us with. In that way, day by day, we learn to trust Him more.
I like this quote written in the DivorceCare devotional:
“I tended to be an anxious person, and during my divorce my fretfulness was magnified. I think God wanted me to know that there wasn’t anything to be anxious about. he had my past, my present, and my future in His hands, and there wasn’t anything happening to me that hadn’t been sifted through His hands first. He was assuring me that He was going to carry me through.”
Facing our fears and overcoming anxiety requires that we develop a trust in God’s goodness. It requires that we understand our emotions and what triggers our response to them. I really liked a book called “Overcoming Anxiety and Depression: Practical Tools to Help You Deal with Negative Emotions” by Bob Phillips. This book helped me to change the way I looked at my problems and find new ways of dealing with them, all within view of God’s hand in my life. Once we do heal from our losses, we can even train ourselves to look at the changes in our life as new opportunities instead of unsolicited down-sizing. We have a chance at a fresh start, a chance to change what we didn’t like before. It may not be a change we ever thought we’d have to make, a change we don’t want to make, but let me encourage you to look for God’s handiwork. Use the trials and pain you’re working through as stepping stones to move closer to His healing and power in your life. By trusting Him, we can take the next step…and then one more.
Have you found some ways to help you cope with anxiety? Will you tell us about them? It’s in our struggles that we really come to know God and ourselves. Your story can bring hope to someone today.
What is it you’re facing? Nobody goes into battle alone. We can stand with you. Let us know in the comments below how we can pray for you, or by submitting your story. He will fight for you.