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Is Anxiety Interfering in Your Relationship with God?

Photo of Andrew HaworthAndrew Haworth | Bio

Andrew Haworth

Andrew obtained his Bachelor of Science in Psychology and Political Science at Kansas State University and then pursued his Master of Arts in Clinical Psychology at Washburn University in Topeka, KS. Andrew is licensed to independently practice psychotherapy including the diagnosis and treatment of mental health and substance use disorders. Andrew is currently the Director of Academic Advising and Counseling at Neosho County Community College. Andrew co-leads the youth group at Ambassador Christian Church in Chanute, KS. He is married to his wife Heather and they have 3 children together. He enjoys modern board games, reading, movies and spending time with his family and friends.

“Am I doing enough to please God?” “Am I a good enough person to get into heaven?”

These are some common worries that many Christians face and admit experiencing on a regular basis. We are told as a body of believers we should fear the Lord our God. And, yes, we should fear the Lord in the sense that we should have proper reverence for Him and submit ourselves in all that He commands of us.

However, what happens when our healthy fear of God transitions to a paralyzing and crippling fear of not being righteous enough? I do believe some of us cross this very threshold from a healthy worry to an unhealthy mental pathology more commonly referred to as anxiety.

Individuals with anxiety are often preoccupied with obsessive thoughts of unknown or uncertain future events. These individuals often engage in ritualistic behaviors in order to create an illusion of “control” over their own anxieties. For example, people might seek constant reassurance from a preacher in order to temporarily feel better about themselves and ease their current worries.

I think we get ourselves into trouble when attending church shifts from bringing glory to God to reducing personal levels of discomfort. It is moments like this, even though we may be very well intentioned, when we have nonetheless lost focus on Christ and have become preoccupied with ourselves.

Is anxiety interfering in your relationship with God? If, as you’ve been reading this, you find any of these words resonating within you, it is certainly not my intention to shame you or to make you feel guilty about your prior history. Quite the contrary! I am attempting to promote an awareness of your intentions and underlying processes behind your worship.

If you find your relationship with God is primarily motivated out of fear, I think this warrants some further exploration and introspection. In my professional role as a psychotherapist, I would encourage any of my clients who experience chronic anxiety to try and “sit” with the uncomfortable feelings. I would encourage them to listen to their body and mind and what the anxiety is attempting to communicate to them.

Successfully coping with anxiety requires both a recognition that anxiety is occurring within the body and the courage to consistently confront the fear without avoidance.

In other words, give yourself permission to feel anxious and resist the knee-jerk reaction you’ve used in the past to temporarily alleviate anxiety. We should pray to our great Healer and He will guide our hearts and minds on what truly matters most.

For it is written:

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God and the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7).