Shouldn't Christians be Exempt from Anxiety?
by Katherine Bell, LPC
"Anxiety?!" My friend gave me an accusing look. “You do realize that means you’re in sin, right? Because the Bible tells us not to worry. You just need to give it all to Jesus!”
Have you ever received advice like this? Or maybe... “You shouldn't be so negative. Just look on the bright side!”
I’ve even been told, “There’s never any excuse for a Christian to be depressed because we have such joy in Christ. Maybe you were never really saved in the first place.”
Uh… not helpful, guys.
Friends like these mean well. But if they have never experienced clinical anxiety or depression for themselve, they can find it difficult to understand or identify with these struggles. I know that after these conversations, I would end up feeling even more depressed, more anxious, and in deeper shame than before.
It's no wonder that sometimes even deeply devoted Christians hesitate to seek faith-based counseling.
On the other hand, the Bible does tell us not to be anxious. In fact, it gives this command more often than any other in Scripture. So maybe we should—as Bob Newhart’s skit famously suggests — "Stop it!" [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ow0lr63y4Mw]
But of course, that’s much more easily said than done. How do you just “stop it”? How do you “Fear not!” when your hear is racing, your chest feels tight, your palms are sweating, your stomach is upset, and you can’t sleep? You can’t simply “flip a switch” and turn it off.
Or can you?
I struggled with clinical depression and anxiety for so many years that I eventually lost hope that I would ever be free of it. I had finally resigned myself to believing that I was simply defective, unable to do what other people seemed to be able to do easily. But in time, with the help of God and some very patient mentors, I began to learn what is actually happening in my body when I feel this way... and things I can do about it!
Now, as a Christian counselor, I am passionate about finding processes that work in parallel with Scriptural truths. I don’t say, “Here’s what the Bible tells you to do. Now figure it out.” Rather, I strive to understand (I’m still learning!) how our minds, bodies, and emotions work during our struggles, and to discover methods that work in harmony with God’s design to manage life’s stresses. (Check back for new blog entries that will talk about some of the practical strategies that can really help calm your anxiety!)
It would be my privilege and honor to walk that road with you if you are experiencing these same discouragements.
Your 15-minute phone conversation is free. Call or email me today, and find out if Connections can help you achieve your goals, with God’s help.