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Tag: anxiety (Page 2 of 2)

Courage – Reinterpreting Fear Signals

A few years ago, my husband and I were asked to give a short presentation about our adoption journey during a service at our church. As I sat there, waiting for our turn to speak, I could feel my anxiety rising.  My heart was pounding, and my stomach was tied in knots.  I was getting more and more nervous by the second.  “There is no logical reason for this response,” I told myself, “You shouldn’t be scared.”  After all, I was going to be talking to my friends and family.  My body didn’t believe me, however.

Thankfully, I knew that my body was doing what it does under stress – the fight or flight response.  So, rather than interpret those body signals as danger, I instead reminded myself that my body was helping me rise to a challenge.  (Because even in front of friends and family, giving a short speech really is a challenge!)  That perspective shift can be the difference between cowardice and courage: being able to push through, interpreting fear signals as a challenge to be conquered.  I’m not sure that I exactly “conquered” the presentation, but I was able to do it, and that in itself is also a victory.

The definition of courage

When I think of a Biblical example of courage, Joshua comes to mind.  As the book of Joshua opens, we find that Moses has just passed away and left his right-hand man, Joshua, in charge.  Joshua is faced with an enormous task: to lead the children of Israel into the promised land.  Moses, the greatest leader Israel had ever known, had not been able to accomplish this task.  The promised land was full of enemies to be conquered before it was to be theirs.

Joshua was well-equipped for the task though.  He had been mentored under Moses’ leadership. Not only that, God gave him a few direct and precious promises to encourage and embolden him for the task:

Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given to you,  just as I promised to Moses. Joshua 1: 3 ESV

No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you.  I will not leave you or forsake you.  Joshua 1: 5 ESV

Joshua 1:9

Being given these promises was a key factor in Joshua’s courage. Knowing that God was promising the land to him, and that He would never leave or forsake him, was paramount to his being courageous in leading God’s people into battle. The context of fear changes when we have the confidence to know that we can take on the challenge! It changes fear from an insurmountable obstacle to a necessary struggle in the quest for victory.

Joshua lived thousands of years ago, but the promises are still true for believers today.  Jesus sent his followers on a mission too – to go and make disciples in all nations. As he sent his apostles out, just as God sent Joshua centuries before, he promised them, “Behold I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28: 19-20)

That promise is for us today!  If we are in Christ, He is with us always.  He will go before us and will give us the strength to do all that He calls us to do in His name.

Pause:  Close your eyes and ask the Lord to reveal His Word to you.  Now read Joshua 1: 1-9.  What stands out to you in this passage?

Renew:  Think about times in your life when you were afraid but were able to act with courage anyway.  What caused you to act with courage in those moments?

Next:  Contemplate the phrase: “for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”  If you were to own that phrase and fully believe it, how would it change the way you live? Repeat this phrase to yourself as you go throughout your day, thanking God that as a believer, He is not just with you, but His Spirit lives in you.

May you be filled with courage to take on any challenge that the Lord may lead you through!

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Rest? Yes please!

It happened in the midst of a crazy month, my sweet lesson on rest.  My husband and I had received a call from social services a couple of weeks prior asking if we would be foster parents to a baby girl who was currently in the NICU.   We prayed and said yes.   It was believed that she would be discharged from the hospital within the week and would be coming home with us.  Disappointingly, she didn’t leave the NICU right away like we had hoped.  Thus, I went into a holding pattern of parenting four children, while trying to find time to spend in the hospital bonding with my new foster daughter.  My emotions were raw and the questions remained unanswered: When would she be released to come home with us? How much time should I be spending with her in the NICU? How could I be in two places at once? The uncertainty went on and on.

One Sunday afternoon, midway through that month,  I was feeling overly emotional, stressed, and exhausted.  We had spent the morning at church and had eaten lunch with our extended family.  My kids were taking their afternoon nap and my husband was at home, so I knew this was my opportunity to spend time with my foster baby.  I lay down on the couch for just a minute, gathering the energy to get back in the van and drive to the hospital.  The next thing I knew, I had been asleep for an hour. As I awoke, I had the distinct impression that the Holy Spirit was speaking to me: “I give sleep to those I love, and you needed rest. She will still be at the hospital when you awake.”

It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil:  for he gives to his beloved sleep.  Psalm 127:2 ESV

I had been going through the motions, feeling compelled to keep functioning past my exhaustion point.  I was aware that I was beyond tired, but the need of the moment felt too great to allow myself to rest.  The Lord sweetly reminded me that without rest, I could not do the hard things I was called to do.

Isn’t that the way of rest?  We all know we need it, but the many demands placed on us keep us from allowing ourselves to stop.  I’m not just referring to sleep;  I mean real rest.  We need time to disengage, allowing our batteries to be recharged.

Interestingly, we can only rest when we give ourselves permission to do so. God knew the intrinsic battle we would have against rest, so He gave us a Sabbath day and commanded that we take it.   We are designed to need rest, both physically and spiritually.

This weighted blanket is used in my counseling office to help with relaxation.  It provides deep pressure touch that simulates being held, which helps the central nervous system calm down.

Another barrier to being able to rest is stress and anxiety.  Both sleep and relaxation are vulnerable activities. The human body’s fight or flight system is designed to help us survive a real or perceived threat. When there is a threat, the last thing the mind wants to do is let down its guard and go unconscious. Thus, when we are afraid or stressed, it is very hard to rest.  

Feeling safe and loved is an important component to fighting anxiety, because we are designed to be in connection with others in times of stress.  Just as a small child runs to his parents’ room after a nightmare to seek comfort, so we can seek safety and peace from our Heavenly Father.  The Psalmist writes that God is a Comforter and a source of safety for us, so that we can sleep in peace.


PauseWhen is the last time that you felt really rested?  What were the elements that helped you feel at rest?  

Renew:  Think of a place that you feel safe, calm, and able to rest.   If you cannot physically go there now, imagine that you are there.  Use your senses – what do you hear, see, feel, and smell in that place? 

Next: Make a plan to set apart time for rest this week.  If one day is not possible, try a few hours, or one hour each day.  Make a plan to exclude those things that keep you from resting (phones, emails, chores) and make it a point to enjoy the absence of those distractions.  If sleep is what you really need, make a plan to take a nap during this time.

Like a toddler rebelling against the nap-time they so desperately need, we fight our need of rest.  In order to be energized and invigorated to carry out our passions and responsibilities, we must make time to be still.  May the Lord teach us more about how to rest, that He may replenish our souls and bodies.

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