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Miranda Writes: Donít Be Anxious About Anything, Part I




by Omar Miranda



Three years ago we had a woodpecker living in one of the beautiful big pecan trees in our front yard. There’s one thing I know about woodpeckers: they peck wood. It’s part of their name, so it was no surprise to me to constantly hear this little guy hard at work on my tree. Very rarely did I see him, but I heard him—like a small incessant jackhammer—destroying my tree. With every hole made, he was weakening my tree’s structure and natural defenses. Until one day he was gone. I’m sure he moved on to another unsuspecting tree and family. I can hear it now: “Oh, look, honey, look at that beautiful bird on that tree. I’ve never seen him around here before. Wow, look at its beak. It’s so sharp . . . almost like a little jackhammer . . . Aaaahh!”

The drama in my front yard made me think a lot about anxiety. In all my years as a counselor, no issue I’ve seen has as much destructive potential to a teen’s all-around health as anxiety. As I got to thinking more about my tree, slowly and systematically pounded, attacked, and weakened by the constant onslaughts of that woodpecker, I realized that this story serves as a great metaphor of the devil’s work in our lives as he attempts to destroy us with anxiety. The countless little holes in the tree resemble the methods he persistently uses to weaken our faith in God’s love, goodness, power, and faithfulness. Then after he’s got our worry motor running, he packs up and moves on to another unsuspecting person.

Anxiety affects us emotionally, physically, and spiritually, which is why it’s important to understand how to deal with it effectively. The Bible tells us how to do that.  

The number-one reason people worry is control. Likely they were raised in a situation that was unpredictable, inconsistent, chaotic, and/or traumatic. For instance, they may not have known where their next meal was coming from, or they grew up with an alcoholic parent, or someone in the family was abusing drugs, or someone was abusing or neglecting them. They may not have been able to control anything in their physical environment. But they learned quickly that they could control at least one thing: what they thought about and focused on.

There are different levels of worry. In fact, not all worry is unhealthy. Have you ever been nervous and had butterflies in your stomach because you had a paper or presentation due? That worry actually helped you be more aware of what was happening around you, and helped you do a better job. But for a lot of people the worry quickly gets out of control. Here are the different levels as I have seen them over the years. I’ve listed them from the least emotionally and physically paralyzing to the worst:

Concern. This is a normal and rational emotion that something’s just not right. You may not fully know what yet, but you catch that “not OK” vibe. At this point this is an indication that you can still manage it and do something to control or fix the problem in a healthy way.

Worry. This is a deeper and stronger emotion. Many times it’s more than a temporary feeling or emotion, and now you’re starting to focus more and more on it. These thoughts and feelings may start to become unhealthy and may briefly “force” their way into your other thoughts, but they’re still mostly under control.

Anxiety. This is a more pronounced emotion that begins like a boa constrictor to wrap itself around your life. These thoughts are unhealthy and take up a great deal of your time. Getting rid of them or just keeping them at bay may be causing you to use unhealthy coping mechanisms. The thoughts and anxiety may be irrational, but they may also be grounded in some very real concerns that have been exaggerated. People usually start having problems with physical symptoms as well: increased heart rate, increased sweating, difficulty breathing, difficulty sitting still, short-term memory problems, trouble focusing, difficulty eating and sleeping, stomach aches, headaches, heartburn, diarrhea, and increased periods, to name just a few. It may be wise to strongly consider getting some natural or prescribed drugs to help get these physical symptoms under control and deal with the core issues (the stuff that’s really causing these problems).

Fear and Panic. These usually go together. At this point you are often being totally controlled by your feelings and have absolutely no control over them. It’s wise to consider a short-term psychiatric hospitalization in order to stabilize you and keep you and others safe. I’ve seen people have problems distinguishing reality from imagination. They may experience hallucinations (seeing and hearing things that aren’t real) and delusions (being paranoid, or believing they’re somebody else, or believing things that aren’t rational).

Next week we’ll finish our discussion by examining how anxiety damages our relationship with God, and we’ll discover God’s cure for worry, anxiety, and panic. You won’t want to miss a word.

God is ready and willing to give you a permanent cure for your anxiety, but you’ve got to trust Him. Before you can trust Him, you’ve got to know Him. Trust me when I say: to know God is to love Him. I hope that today you’ll make the decision to get to know Him. You won’t be sorry.

Until next time, remember these things: God’s way is always the best way. Life is full of decisions, so make yours good ones. Put God first in your life, and you can’t go wrong.

Feel free to contact me: you can e-mail me at omiranda@rhpa.org; or you can keep up with me on Facebook; or you can read more of my stuff on Miranda Writes, at www.insightmagazine.org.

In Christ,
Omar Miranda, editor, Insight Magazine

Omar Miranda is the editor/director of Insight Ministries and a Christian counselor and with more than 20 years’ experience working with youth in public and private middle and high schools. He’s married and has two kids. He enjoys teaching the youth at his church, reading, writing, gardening, and camping. He’s a recovering knucklehead who spent a lot of time in the past doing stupid stuff away from God. He’s been back with God for years now and is eager to share what he’s learned from his experiences by answering any questions you may have about life, the Christian life, Jesus, spiritual matters, and relationships in his column, Miranda Writes.





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