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Is there a remedy for anxiety?

A friend wrote a note to me during a struggle at work. The closing line was “Remember, you are TOO BLESSED TO BE STRESSED.” I thought about those words. Did they change the circumstances at work? No. Did they help me take a different perspective?  Yes, because it changed how I dealt with the struggles.    These words were very helpful because they reduced my anxiety and gave me what I call “transcendental confidence.” It gave me the relief of the larger picture, and I was able to see what was really important, which is the eternal love and acceptance of Jesus Christ. I belong to Him no matter what.

Emphasis placed on gratitude and thankfulness is especially germane for the Christian church. Each Sunday and during the week when our minds are renewed, and our hearts filled with gratitude, we reduce our anxiety and quell our fears. In my practice as a psychologist, I reminded my clients that it is neurologically impossible to be in the state of anxiety and the state of gratitude at the same time.  Because this is the case, then, gratitude seems to be the perfect anecdote for anxiety.  It’s just not that simple. When we are hurting and confused, finding gratitude is like searching for a remote planet. Our mind just can’t stretch that far.  Practicing mindfulness and meditation takes time, practice, and learning new thinking patterns. It takes self-encouragement and support from others. We need help from our church and our Christian friends to remind us of the importance of gratitude.

My daily devotions are from Jesus Calling by Sarah Young. Like Sarah, I was inspired by L’Abri, a Christian community established in the Swiss Alps by Francis and Edith Schaeffer. My European travels in 1970 took me to a little Alpine village in France. The surroundings were breathtakingly pristine with a view of Lake Geneva in the distance. I was simultaneously chilled and warmed by God’s unspeakable gifts. My heart was filled with such gratitude. Let me share Sarah Young’s devotion from November 24.

Thankfulness takes the sting out of adversity. That is why I have instructed you to give thanks for everything. There is an element of mystery in this transaction: You give Me thanks (regardless of your feelings), and I give you joy (regardless of your circumstances). This is a spiritual act of obedience-at times, blind obedience. To people who don’t know Me intimately, it can seem irrational and even impossible to thank Me for heartrending hardships. Nonetheless, those who obey Me in this are invariably blessed, even though difficulties may remain.

Thankfulness opens your heart to My Presence and your mind to My thoughts.  You may still be in the same place, with the same set of circumstances, but it is as if a light has been switched on, enabling you to see from My perspective. It is this Light of My Presence that removes the sting from adversity.” (from Ephesians 5:20; Psalm 118:1 and Psalm 89:15)

May the peace of God always be alongside of you.

 

Kathryn V. Den Houter, Ph.D., Author