Ask This Mom: Anxiety and the Generations

Scripture tells us to be anxious for nothing. Have you ever tried to tell someone suffering with anxiety to stop feeling that way? It doesn’t work.

Anxiety is the fear of what might happen. It can even be defined as the fear of the future. It tangles the “what ifs” with the “might be” to create an unrealistic picture. Anxiety is never our friend. Over the past few years, so many troublesome events occurred many experienced unending anxieties.

Eighty percent of the young people I survied said their anxiety increased since 2019. Twenty-five percent rated their anxiety level at a ten on a one to ten scale. One participant remarked that pondering the question increased their anxiety. An increasing number of young people have confided that they feel the effects of anxiety even when they disconnect from it. Repeatedly, we’ve heard the past two years described as unprecedented, which makes it unpredictable. Our once sense of control became nonexistent. Any cataclysmic event could occur tomorrow.

It is important to pause here and make sure you know it is okay to seek help for anxiety. Our mental health is important. Anxiety is controllable through prayer, counseling, and medication when needed. Do what you need to do to be healthy.

During a pre-pandemic speaking event, I taught on laying down shame. As I finished, women lined up to share their stories and receive prayer. A young woman, crippled by anxiety, informed me she also wrestled with shame because in Christ she should not fear. Tears streamed down her face as I prayed for her and with her, my words felt inadequate.

Later that night, I stood at the front of the auditorium with other presenters to pray with any woman in attendance. Once again, the young woman stood before me. I breathed a prayer “Help me Lord, show me what to do.”  Remembering the bracelet on my wrist, I handed it to the young woman. Inscribed with the words Be Strong and Courageous it reminded me to cast off my worries. I prayed it would be a concrete reminder of God’s promise for wholeness for her.  

I often think of this young woman and continue to pray for her. It saddens me to think that a Scripture meant for our empowerment drove her to shame. We must be careful with our words and fully recognize flippant answers without loving relationship can cause harm instead of wellness.

Returning to Philippians 4:6 “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” (NIV) How can we use this as a starting point to relieve others of anxiety and not cause further damage?

1.Remember that Paul wrote this from prison, this gives him a level of credibility. When we speak to anxious thoughts of others without understanding the circumstances, we damage our integrity. We must validate the feelings and then move toward solutions.

2. Building on trust, agree to pray for the situation and petition for a solution. In this verse prayer means connecting with God, reaching out to Him. Petitioning means asking Him to help solve the problem. We are seeking solutions for the anxious circumstance, not just wishing them away.

3. Then thank God for the outcome, encourage the anxious friend to make gratitude lists. It works but it is not a one-time fix.
Anxiety is a beast to be tamed by retraining our brain to not fall into it. It takes practice and repetition, especially after a season of distress.

Action point: Who came to mind when you read this piece? Pray for them. List reasons why you are thankful for them. Send them a text of encouragement.

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