Welcome to Day 2 of 31 Days of Battling Anxiety with Biblical Truth! Today I’m sharing a tangible tip to help us recognize when anxiety might be creeping in and a Biblical truth that we can remind ourselves when the creep starts happening.
The keyword for today is: trigger. Well that, and value. Read on…
Tangible Tip for Battling Anxiety:
The first step to battling anxiety is recognizing it before it has the chance to overwhelm us. Anxiety that has been brewing in our hearts, minds, and bodies for a while can grip us before we even know it is there, making it very difficult to settle. But what if we could train ourselves to recognize its triggers before it gets out of control? I’ve found that I can usually spot an oncoming wave of anxiety by simply watching my breath. This seems too easy, and in truth, it kind of is. It’s just not one of those things that we regularly think about so we forget that it can be a useful tool.
Set a reminder on your phone a few times throughout the day just to stop and notice the quality of your breath. Is it shallow? Deep? Quick? Slow? Even? Sporadic? Nourishing? Stressful? Are you holding your breath and not even realizing it? Are you breathing from the belly or the chest? Or neither?
When my breath is shallow and quick, rising from the chest and not the belly, it usually means that I’m holding onto some anxious thought in my mind or feeling in my heart. The quick and shallow chest breathing is just my body’s way of manifesting it.
Check in with your breath often and notice what shows up. Over time, you’ll start to notice your own patterns of ease and unease, which will allow you to take action on anxiety before it takes over you.
Biblical Truth for Battling Anxiety:
When my son was a baby, we had a special routine before naptime. A little walk up and down the hallway, a little sway in the rocking chair, a little pat on his back. All the while during these little steps of our routine, I played one of my favorite songs as he settled for sleep:
Why should I feel discouraged,
Why should the shadows come,
Why should my heart be lonely,
And long for heaven and home,
When Jesus is my portion,
A constant Friend is He;
His eye is on the sparrow,
And I know He watches me
I sing because I’m happy
I sing because I’m free
For His eye is on the sparrow,
And I know He watches over me.
–His Eye Is On the Sparrow
Three times a day for at least twelve months, this was our naptime routine and this is the song that he heard over and over. I played an acapella version of the song, so that he heard only the words and the melody and nothing else. I did this for a few reasons: (1), I simply loved that version and (2) I wanted Thomas to remember the message in the song.
Now. I know that at six months old he was not able to understand those lyrics. But in my wistful mother’s mind, I wondered if one day when he was older, he might hear that tune again. And somehow, in hearing that sweet song, all the comfort of those precious naptime moments would come right back to him and settle in his heart that he was loved, protected, cared for, and valued. I hoped that, even after years had gone by, that song would trigger a response in him that might soothe his restless heart.
God’s Word does this very thing for us. It’s truth triggers a memory planted in our DNA, that we are sons and daughters of a King who loves us, protects us, cares for us, and values us. It settles our heart when fear, worry, and anxiety want to take root.
25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
When my heart is restless and drawn towards anxiety, I love to return to this passage in Matthew. We’ll be spending a good portion of our time together here, but for today I just want us to look at vs. 26.
Your life has value. Your life has value. Repeat after me: your life has value.
The sparrows. The seagulls. The birds of the air. God cares for them all and He cares for you too. But He doesn’t just care for you. His Word tells us that we are valuable to him. Much more so than the sparrows and the seagulls and the birds.
Believing this truth takes courage. This world wants us to believe that we have little value. That our lives do not matter. But they do. The same God who cares for the sparrows cares for you. Your life has value.
When anxiety creeps in, would you let that Biblical truth trigger a soothing of your soul? When your breaths become shallow and quick and the mind is restless, repeat after me: you are so very valuable to the creator of the universe. And He does not want you to live with an anxious heart.