“But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.”
When I was more open about my struggle with anxiety, the person who talked me through it initially asked me one specific question. She asked , “What are the fundamental things that are causing you stress?” Thanks to my over-analyzing tendencies, I knew exactly what to tell her. However, only through a sustained conversation did I truly understand why they were stressing me. A lot of it was because of my people-pleasing tendencies, unfinished projects, fast approaching deadlines and my ‘reputation’ on the line.
According to a medically reviewed article from Healthline, there is a distinction between a stressor and actual stress. A stressor can be a person, place, or situation that is causing you stress. Stress is the actual response to one or a combination of those stressors.
The height of our anxiety is directly correlated to our amount of stressors. To calm it down we reduce it. Think of it this way, if your hand got burned by hot oil, do you thrust towards it or away? Our anxiety functions in the same way, while we may feel effects from the burn, healing can start because you have moved away from the source of worry.
Take an inventory of your life. What things-express what things mean increase your anxiety? Are these burdens God has placed on you? Are they self-imposed or based on external expectations? Maybe these things keep you from the better part of God, His feet. If you have been a Martha, take a step back and ask yourself why you do what you do. I mean all of it.
When you have been prayerful and not just frustrated, let go of the things that show up as not in alignment to where you are on your journey with Christ. It may look like agreeing to take part in a ‘good’ thing, or staying up later to console a friend that has no interest in growing, or taking on other individual’s work, just because you want to be ‘nice’.
If these are God-imposed circumstances, anxiety is not a far-fetched response. There are days the will of God makes me anxious. Yes, I am of little faith, but to grow in it, I must accept it. I gain strength when I admit I am weak. Yes, you are excited for the next chapter but my God, look at all the things that could go wrong. Yes they can, but you have no evidence that it will. And yes, God has carried you this far, He can do it a little while longer, even until eternity. If God brought you to the valley of the shadow of death, He won’t leave you there. The table of blessing and contentment awaits you. I know no better place to surrender than at the altar of prayer. Let him exchange your worry with faith and your doubts with word-fighting truth.
It is human to worry, but Christlike to hope.
Make a list of your stressors, pray over it. Let His voice guide you, then eliminate the things that seem urgent but not needful. If any remains, discuss solutions or new perspectives with a friend or mentor. Let them keep you accountable.