Whether it's an intermittent gnawing worry or a full blown anxiety attack, we are all affected at some stage of our lives with anxiety. Fears are particularly heightened at the moment with the Coronavirus as we feel a loss of control and an inability to guarantee protection for ourselves and our loved ones.
Having children can also amplify those feelings of anxiety as our natural, overwhelming love and desire to protect kick in but there is so much more in life that we can't control.
For some, anxiety is a nusiance or something we just try to ignore, for others it can become quite overwhelming or debilitating.
Anxiety can be incredibly hard and, much as we might like, there aren't quick fix solutions, like sticking a plaster over a cut. That said, there is hope - and bucket-fulls of it - in Jesus.
For anyone struggling with anxiety, do get in touch, below are some resources specific to the current situation and some more general ones that I have found helpful over the years as God has taught me to depend on Him through the struggles and brought joy and peace.
Resource 1 - Time with God
Although this might seem an alien concept, spending time with God each day is a great way to combat anxiety.
One congregational member says:
"When my children were little I tried many things to try and find a solution to the burden of anxiety, but nothing fixed it. One day a song I had sung as a child popped into my head. The chorus line said "Jesus is the answer, what a friend is He". It struck me in that moment that if Jesus had made the universe and holds everything together by His hands (Colossians 1:16-17) then how could He not have the answer to my anxiety? Surely spending more time with Him would help and so I set out to read my Bible and pray a little each day."
Christians often call this practice their "quiet time" or "daily devotions" or "Bible time" and there are lots of resources out there to help you if this is something new to you. You can get (either online or as a book), daily Bible readings with a little explanation of the passage and suggestions for prayer and they cost only a few pounds. You can buy studies for adults, teens, school-aged kids, pre-schoolers and also ones you can do together as a family.
The Psalms might be a good place to start, they are filled with honest prayers and songs to God based on real experiences and feelings. Maybe start with Psalm 91.
"Explore" daily Bible notes are available as both a hardcopy and an app.
"Reading Between the Lines" is a set of 2 daily Bible reading books that will last you a year. Written by Glen Scrivener who spoke at the "Real Lives" event at St.Mary's, Maidenhead, earlier this year.
Resource 2 - Helpful Articles
Here are some really helpful articles to read to help you as you struggle with your anxiety at this time.
One church member says "This is an extremely helpful book written by a Christian Psychologist. I have both read the book and heard Ed speak and he writes very much like he speaks - a unique style in which you feel you are getting a sneak peak into his thought processes as he mulls through the issues.
My jaw dropped as I read in black and white the difficult questions that buzzed round my mind but that I didn't dare voice. Not only did Ed dare to put them down on paper, but he had helpful answers to them too!
This book gave me immensely practical tools in learning how to trust God with my fears and it has made a huge difference to my life."
This is an "easy to read" biography telling Joanie's story as she suffered from severe anxiety.
Joanie and her husband were an American couple but interestingly ended up being locals to us here, founding "Yeldall Manor" drug and alcohol rehabilitation centre in Wargrave.
Joanie tells of her severe anxiety and agoraphobia when her children were little. With her husband travelling so much for work, she was alone and afraid to admit how much she was struggling. She tells how God heals her little by little as she tentatively learns to put her trust in Him.
It is no longer in publication but you can pick up second hand copies online, Amazon are usually great. No matter how many copies I buy over the years they all seem to disappear as I lend them out.
Music can be a great way to help us focus on God. I often think of the verse "I lift up my eyes to the mountains, where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth." Psalm 121:1-2
Listening to God's truths being sung, help us lift our eyes to Him and focus on Him rather than our fears. It also helps us to remember His promises and sometimes we are literally clinging on to these by our finger nails, but He is faithful and doesn't let us go.
Here is a song that may encourage you as you feel anxious.