The verse of the day yesterday on the YouVersion Bible app was:
"There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love" 1 John 4:18
And boy, was that something the Holy Spirit was speaking directly into my soul. I've dealt with anxiety of varying levels for a decent part of my life, and its been exacerbated lately by general stresses of graduate school (news flash-getting a Ph.D. induces stress) and other recent/ongoing events. It feels ironic, given that I gave a presentation about anxiety symptoms and treatments last week, but I guess knowledge is power.
The verse had me thinking, however, about fear and love. Perfect love vanquishes fear, and perfect love only comes from God. Perfect love doesn't exist from other humans, for we are imperfect, but brining our fears and anxieties to God casts out those fears. I don't think this eliminates the need or usefulness for therapeutic techniques, such as deep breathing/relaxation and challenging our cognitive distortions, but they are tools we can use to help us on our journey. I've found that taking deep breathing and a cup of herbal tea into prayer time only helps me cope and work through my anxieties, and only serve to enhance my prayer life.
I can listen to other people quote scripture or different sayings about "have no worries at all" until the sun comes up, but it does no use if there isn't an understanding that just telling someone not to worry (unless you are God) isn't enough, action needs to be involved. There should not be any shame in bringing your worries and anxieties to God, and also going on a run to help you feel better. Or going to talk to someone to help you work through some of the complicated bits. Just like God may give us action steps or circumstances to help us practice the virtue of patience, there are tools that exists and people who give their lives to helping us hand over our anxieties.
When days are a struggle and you feel consumed, offer your worries up to God, ask for the intercession of the Holy Spirit, go for a run, talk to a friend or therapist, and take a deep breath.
It's going to be okay. If it is not right now, that's okay too.