How I Became Free of Anxiety Series by Brian Kerkhoff
Part 4 of 13: Comforting myself with the Truth, how to tell myself I’m going to be okay.
I had learned scary, negative, catastrophic thinking because of fear and my overall experience as a young child and teenager. I was instructed through an anxiety program I bought years ago I must learn to tell myself I’m going to be okay during challenging life situations. In another place in this self-help program I learned my own voice is one of the most believable. If I’m telling myself I will not be okay, then I will have difficulty believing others who may be telling me I will be okay.
Joyce Meyer said one time “anxiety sees the problem, faith sees God”. At a young age, I had taken on a view of life where I could only see the difficulties of life and I was overwhelmed by them. I did not have a close supportive family and consequently I believed I was on my own processing the complexities of life.
Telling myself habitually I was NOT going to be okay kept me in the “danger” mode of anxiety. I experienced a feeling of being in “danger”, but could not pinpoint where the “danger” was. Like storm clouds on the horizon this “danger” was a vague feeling of impending calamity.
Choosing to believe God’s word in the areas of who I am, what I can do, what I have and where I’m at -AS TRUER- than my own perceptions and interpretations of life allowed me to quit relying on myself and look to God for help understanding my life. Telling myself His truth and following His instructions the best I knew how led to confidence I was cared for and I could know what to do in confusing situations. Even in difficult, seemingly impossible, situations I could choose to have confident expectation (faith) that my Father in Heaven was with me. I could stop attempting to stay one step ahead of everything. I learned over time I needed to do what is right, in each moment, the best I knew how. My Father was with me, sometimes correcting, sometimes defending me. My part was to TRUST God even when my feelings didn’t agree!
By the time I reached adulthood my life was a conglomeration of past experiences, disappointments, failure to get what I wanted, difficulty with family, difficulty in school, lack of belonging, emotional upset, anger at family, and anger at God. My experiences were telling me a story which I interpreted through lenses of fear and believing I was unlovable. I had become vulnerable to disappointment in my youth and I allowed these disappointments tell me I could never be successful.
I became convinced I had a CHOICE during the study of anxiety and how to become free of it. I could entrust myself to my unsuccessful way of negotiating life or I could commit to God’s instruction for life, letting Him speak over me by reading His word and choosing to be teachable. Not as a fearful individual, but as a faithful individual. I made changes that went against my interpretations of my life and how I felt about life in a big way. This is the decision I made: God’s word is TRUER than my interpretation of my past life experiences. My adverse childhood experiences, disappointments, failures, lack of belonging, emotional upset, isolation and fearfulness could no longer tell me who I am or what I can do. Only my Heavenly Father can tell me who I am and what I can do. I learned to become open to Him instilling a new identity and purpose in me.
I watched a news story one day about a group of soldiers involved in a firefight in Afghanistan. One of the surviving soldiers interviewed was asked the question, how were you able to get through this life or death situation? He answered, I kept telling myself I’d be okay. Bam! Pay close attention to what you are telling yourself and “where those telling yourself statements originate”! But if Christ lives in you, [then although] your [natural] body is dead by reason of sin and guilt, the spirit is alive because of [the] righteousness [that He imputes to you]. And if the Spirit of Him Who raised up Jesus from the dead dwells in you, [then] He Who raised up Christ Jesus from the dead will also restore life to your mortal (short lived, perishable) bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you. Romans 8:10-11 AMPC. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. Romans 8:14 AMPC. Romans 8 is a specific and purposeful instruction on how we are to see ourselves, our relationship to Father God and our interaction with each other. I decided to only tell myself what my Father says about me. I can live apart from Him, or together with Him, I realized this is my simple choice, and only I can choose.
I write this in a few convenient sentences like it happened suddenly, quite the opposite. I face this choice daily and the process of turning from anxiety went on for a period of YEARS. For starters I’m stubborn. So was Israel! Please let go needing to have your own way. Let go of attitudes toward God! I decided to “choose to trust” my Heavenly Father, despite my questions, my uncertainties, my hurts, my understandings and lack of understandings, how I had been treated by people or anything that caused me to question His Goodness toward ME. I Chose to believe the answers were coming! I CHOSE God! I CHOSE to let go of my ways that did not agree with His Word! I learned 1 Peter 4:1 To “choose” to suffer rather than displease My Heavenly Father! Allow Father God to take your hand today and help you, His Way! For the time being no discipline brings joy, but seems grievous and painful; but afterwards it yields a peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it [a harvest of fruit which consists in righteousness-in conformity to God’s will in purpose, thought, and action, resulting in right living and right standing with God]. Hebrews 12:11 AMPC (emphasis mine)
The journey to freedom took time and effort. Trusting God's way over my way was difficult for me because of the strong emotional reactions I experienced letting go of my self-centered ways. I began to make a habit of taking my strong feelings to my Father in Heaven through prayer and journaling, believing He knows better than I. Allowing my Father in Heaven to speak His Truth over me took a step of faith! Studying the Truth (God’s Word) and daring to live in intimacy (trust and confident expectation) with God was the answer to all the questions anxiety kept bringing up. I will elaborate in my testimony series on each of the 13 areas I had to learn/change to be free of anxiety. We are not meant to travel the road to freedom alone. Invite the Holy Spirit to help with your anxiousness, find ministry if you need it (be a seeker), ask for prayer, fellowship with other believers regularly and KNOW that God has a plan for your life and that plan is a GOOD plan. Decide to believe Romans 8:28. Get into agreement with His work in your life and ask for help when you need it. LITS would love to walk with you on your journey to freedom. See our website