Anxiety, Worry, Fear, and Phobia—Oh My!
Does worry, doubt, or fear get the best of you sometimes? Do you wonder where anxiety comes from and how to defeat it in your life and the lives of those you love? Then we need a biblical anatomy of anxiety.
What Anxiety Feels Like
We use a host of terms for “anxiety.” Four of the most common are anxiety, worry, fear, and phobia.
Though these are distinct and can be contrasted, we can also identify common threads woven throughout each of these terms. They consist of overlapping, similar experiences.
The following are actual ways that people have described to me their experiences of anxiety, worry, fear, and phobia.
*I’m constantly turned in upon myself and tuned in only to myself.
“I’m consistently reflecting on myself and overly concerned with my life in a way that feels self-centered, obsessive, out of control, and abnormal.”
*I’m hyper-vigilant in my response to threat and I always have a sense of foreboding.
“I feel like something bad is going to happen that I can’t control or handle.”
*My mind gets stuck in a state of alertness and preparation for danger, real or imagined.
“I can’t seem to stop preparing for the worst.”
*My fear is my survival system, like an alarm clock intended to startle me awake. But the button is stuck and the alarm won’t stop!
“It’s like the old Lost in Space show with the Robot always screaming, ‘Danger! Danger! Will Robinson!’”
*Anxiety is my present experience of a scary future.
“I feel like the cowardly lion, afraid of his own shadow, and like all the Oz characters always chanting, ‘Lions, and Tigers, and Bears! Oh my!’”
*My fear retreats from the threat. Fear cringes.
“I don’t fight; I flee because I view the danger as bigger than my resources.”
*My fear causes distortions. I seem weaker than I am. God seems weak, or uninvolved, or uncaring.
“I’m David against Goliath, but I don’t see God in the scene.”
*I sense a dangerous threat that I can’t control or surmount.
“Life is too hard for me. This situation is too big for me. I’m a child in an adult world.”
*I worry all the time. It’s a distracting care, a consuming thought.
“I get stuck on the step of identifying every possible negative eventuality. I define the problem, but I don’t move on to identifying options, finding solutions, or taking action.”
*I’m in a near constant state of dread or apprehension, usually not even triggered by any specific danger.
“I’m swallowed in panic and confusion about my uncertain future. All I know for sure is that at least one of the potential negative outcomes is sure to occur!”
The Rest of the Story
Have you “been there, done that?” Do any of these real-life descriptions fit your real life? Or the life of someone you love? Someone you are ministering to?
It’s easy for us, especially if these issues are uncommon to us, to quickly say, “It’s all sin. Just trust God. Be anxious for nothing. Pray.”
Even if all of that advice were always true; it’s still trite.
We change lives with Christ’s changeless truth…not with our trite truisms.
I invite you to return for part nine and beyond as we’ll begin to share realistic biblical principles for overcoming anxiety—at its root, at its core.
Our entire blog series is moving toward the goal of finding God’s sustaining, healing, reconciling, and guiding care and cure for anxiety.