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Our Women's Ministry meeting in October Liz gave an insightful talk on anxiety.

For those that couldn’t be here, Liz has summarized some of the key points.

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning, great is your faithfulness’ (Lamentations 3:22)

Anxiety can feel consuming, overwhelming and never-ending. The bible is filled with stories and examples of his people feeling anxious. We live in a chaotic, broken world, where anxiety is a very natural response to living in a way we were never originally purposed for. There are many expressions of anxiety felt in the mind, heart and body, throughout the bible:

My soul, my soul! I am in anguish! Oh, my heart! My heart is pounding in me; I cannot be silent, (Jeremiah 4)

I am benumbed and badly crushed; I groan because of the agitation of my heart. (Psalm 38)

However, the bible is also filled with encouragement, support and truths which can release us from a never-ending experience of anxiety. Untangling from the deep rooted threads of anxiety can be a process that takes time and effort – it might feel messy, painful, uncertain – as the Holy Spirit does this work in and with us, always building relationship with us as his daughters, along the way.

What if we believed that the Lord knows that this world is difficult, and all his beautiful biblical verses and stories were there to support us through these experiences, to lead us deeper into truths, truths that would free us. Bible verses used not to condemn and shame us, but to encourage us, build us up into new creations, challenge our beliefs, set us free.

How do we feel about our anxiety? How does God feel? Sometimes, we can use the bible as a condemnatory weapon against ourselves. This is not God’s intention, He is passionate about our mental health. Our anxiety is not too big a problem for Him.

These are some things we might use against ourselves, and prevent us getting honest and getting help from God and from others he might bring into our lives:

If other people knew how anxious I was, they’d judge me.

Why can’t I just get myself together, I’m a grown woman, this anxiety is ridiculous

Maybe this is all down to my lack of faith, it’s my fault for not truly believing God’s promises. Other people’s faith must just be stronger than mine.

I feel so ashamed, I have to hide how anxious I really am from others. If I were a better Christian I wouldn’t be so anxious

Maybe I just need to pray more, the bible says to pray and give thanks instead of being anxious, maybe I’ll just try harder with that. I’ll pray harder, better, more.

I must just be oversensitive. I should just care less, focus on the good, just get on with it.

The bible says not to be anxious, so I must be sinning. It’s a command isn’t it? This is sin, I just need to repent, that’s all.

How can I be so anxious if I’m a child of God with all my needs supplied in Jesus? Maybe I’m just being ungrateful.

As daughters of God, we get to bring these to him and ask him to show us the truth in what we’re believing about our anxiety.

Our nervous system in a God-created tool to alert us to danger. It can become stuck in the ‘on’ position. Our logical brains go offline, and we need to calm ourselves through the body, and tender compassion.

These are a few ideas to calm your nervous system in the moment:

1. Name it to tame it: See can you notice and name your feeling, and where you feel it in your body, e.g. my heart is really pounding, I’m very scared. “When I said, ‘My foot is slipping,’ your unfailing love, Lord, supported me. When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy – Psalm 94.

2. Identify a small thing you can give yourself – a hug, a walk, a stretch, a cry

3. Breathe out slowly through pursed lips. Use these breath prayers to help focus on God.

4. Dance/Move to music. Experiment with what feels like a good response.

5. Have a cry, it releases cortisol which is a stress hormone.

6. Wash your hands slowly, focus on the smell of the soap, the feel on your hands.

7. Connect with others who feel safe. Check that they have capacity to listen for a few minutes. You can say you don’t need advice, just a listening ear. Jesus invited Peter James and John to be with him in the time he was ‘greatly distressed and troubled’

8. Pray – but allow yourself to get honest with God. Consider how Hannah poured out her heart: Then Eli said to her, "How long will you make yourself drunk? Put away your wine from you. "But Hannah replied, "No, my lord , I am a woman oppressed in spirit; I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but I have poured out my soul before the LORD ."Do not consider your maidservant as a worthless woman, for I have spoken until now out of my great concern and provocation. "Then Eli answered and said, "Go in peace; and may the God of Israel grant your petition that you have asked of Him. "She said, "Let your maidservant find favour in your sight." So the woman went her way and ate, and her face was no longer sad (1Samuel 1:14-15).

Breath Prayers

Breath prayers combine deep breathing exercises with prayers of meditation on God’s words. Slow, deep breaths help activate the parasympathetic nervous system, slowing the heart rate and calming the body.

Prayer then turns the heart towards Christ, focusing the mind on truth and calming the soul. If you would like to download and print a copy of Breath Prayers for yourself, please click here

Bible Project

The Bible Project has an excellent podcast episode on using the example God gave us in the Psalms to pray through various things. This first episode is on praying through fear and anxiety

We have also put together a list of some worship songs that help turn our eyes on to Jesus when we are in those overwhelming and dark places. They speak of peace, trust, belonging and His love for us.

You’re Gonna Be Okay – Jenn Johnson

Tremble - Mosaic MSC

Rescue - Lauren Daigle

Who you say I am – Hillsong Worship

Prince of Peace - Hillsong United

Eye of the Storm - Ryan Stevenson

Stand In Your Love – Josh Baldwin

Anchor of Peace – North Point Worship

Warrior - Hannah Kerr

No Longer Slaves – Jonathan David and Melissa Helser, Bethel Music

Cover the Earth - Kari Jobe & Cody Carnes

"It Is Well" - Kristene DiMarco

I Will Fear No More – The Afters

You say – Lauren daigle

"The Way (New Horizon)" - Housefires

Take Courage – Kristene diMarco

"Do It Again" - Elevation Worship

Oceans. Hillsong worship

I am no victim – Kristene diMarco

New Wine - Hillsong Worship

Truth I am standing on – Leanna Crawford

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