This week we’ve been talking about dethroning fear in our lives. Yesterday we learned the difference between fear and anxiety. Today I’m going to show you how to use your new definition of anxiety to find freedom from it. To recap:
- Anxiety has a subject located in the future.
- Anxiety is a control issue. It involves worrying about losing control—or things we can’t control, or being unable to control something.
- The subject of anxiety, then—the something we can’t control located in the future—is an outcome: rejection, failure, embarrassment, winning the argument, saving the day, disappointing others, getting hurt, repeating history.
The problem is, we can’t control outcomes. Ever.
Think about it: You can influence the outcome of events, but not control them. There are too many variables contributing to an outcome that lie beyond our control.
What can we control? Our attitude and our input. That’s it. The outcome is totally beyond our grasp. Which makes worry worse than useless. It makes it destructive and deceptive.
So.. the first thing to do when you’re feeling anxious is not to ask, “What am I afraid of?” It’s to ask yourself (and even better, to ask God): “What outcome am I trying to control here?”
Let him show you what that is.
Then admit it’s a control issue. Say it out loud, if need be, but put it into words, preferably directed to God: “Lord, I’m trying to control what so-and-so thinks of me and it’s stressing me right out.”
Then admit the second truth: “But I can’t control outcomes. I can’t control what she thinks of me. Which makes all my worrying pointless.”
Well, by praying, you’ve begun the next step: Placing your trust in God, the only one who can manage outcomes in such a way that everything can be used for our good (Romans 8:28). What you’re doing is stepping down from the throne of control in your life and inviting God to sit there instead. You’re working to resolve the control issue that’s spawned the anxiety in the first place. If it helps, visualize this exchange. Step down, invite God to step up. Choose to lose the game of thrones.
When you pray about an outcome, you’re inviting God to do what only he can do and leaving that uncontrollable future in his capable hands. I also highly recommend “time travel prayer” as a part of this step.
Has this been helpful to you? How so? Talk to me!