Defeating Anxiety: Not an Either-Or
Do you struggle with anxiety or depression? Many Christian leaders (and their followers) do.
I’ve written especially for people who doubt their faith, or their faithfulness, because they are taking prescription meds for anxiety or depression. I have also written for those who have rejected medication on the basis that they think it is not within God’s will. And, I’ve met a few men along the way who refuse medication because they think it shows weakness and makes them less of a man to do so.
You Need Spiritual Help, Plus…
Some may have been “put down” by their pastor, church leaders, or well-meaning friends. I know this because I was one of those pastors who looked down on people for taking drugs to alleviate anxiety or depression. My standard advice was, “Read the Bible more and kick up your prayer life.”
Not bad advice…simply incomplete. And I doled it out with little or no compassion. I honestly couldn’t comprehend the struggles my friends experienced. God can and does heal marvelously. But sometimes things don’t work out just as we pray that they will. When God doesn’t answer in ways we hope for, we are forced to seek other options.
My Own Problem
Several years ago, I had an acute panic/anxiety attack. The one good thing about it was that it taught me empathy and compassion toward people who have lost control over their emotions. The bad part about it was that it happened at all—I was weak and shattered.
I felt like that fellow “Humpty Dumpty who sat on a wall…Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.” The nursery rhyme goes on to say that, “All the king’s men couldn’t put Humpty together again.” My life came unglued and nothing I did on my own would repair the damage.
I spent much time in prayer and reading the Bible, but something in my brain would not allow me to feast on the promises God makes to us. I was too bent to even focus on God’s word.
Enter The Family Doctor
In sheer desperation, we called our family doctor. The short story is that he prescribed a medication, which calmed me quite rapidly. Years later, I still use the same drug, in smaller doses. Since that difficult time, I have learned several techniques for managing chronic anxiety and I am into my Bible and prayer more than ever. In other words, this is a war that needs to be fought on several fronts simultaneously and continuously.
I am not suggesting that medications are the final answer to anything. Nor do I diminish the spiritual dimensions of anxiety. However my purpose is to counteract those people, in your life, who condemn others for finding help in a physician’s prescription pad.
“Healthy Anxiety” Can Spin Out Of Control
The fact is that a certain level of anxiety travels alongside any healthy individual—we need it to protect us from things we should legitimately fear. For instance, anxiety over injury will keep you from stepping in front of an oncoming bus. But anxiety can overstep its boundaries leaving you very unhealthy. When that happens, life is bound and blinded by emotional pain. We can’t eliminate anxiety but can control it so it doesn’t control us.
(For more from Ralph Moore, see www.ralphmoore.net. Used with permission.)