Choose Your Battles

Since I’ve had to go through some tough love recently, I have some tough love for you, friend:

If you can’t control your anxiety, your anxiety will control you.

In 2014, a dear friend of mine prayed for me and encouraged me with this word: You’re stronger than you think. I have never forgotten that, because it was something I didn’t believe. I think that I’m weak because I have anxiety. But that’s a lie. Anxiety does not have power over me. I am stronger than my fear by the grace of God.

When facing my fears, I choose my battles. There are some fights I’m not willing to engage in, where I let anxiety be my excuse, but there are some fights where I take out my biggest weapon and attack it head-on.

One of those fears is being on stage, being the center of attention. My best friend just got married this weekend. I was so incredibly happy for her, and I was blessed to be one of her bridesmaids. However, I couldn’t shake the fear of standing on the steps at the front of the church, where anyone could be looking at me. Leading up to the wedding, I realized that this fear was totally selfish. This was my friend’s day, not mine. Not a single eye was looking at me during the ceremony, and that’s the way it should be. Instead of letting the fear stop me from enjoying the ceremony, I filled my mind with the reminder that I was doing this for her, and for her and her husband’s commitment to God. By standing up there, I wasn’t just facing my fear; I was displaying to her and to everyone else that I supported her union to her husband and that I believed that God is at the center of their marriage. That is something worth fighting for.

Another one of those fears is flying. My fear if flying is debilitating. Most people get scared going through security, but I’m scared once the cabin door is shut and we have no way out until we land on the other side (even just writing that made it difficult to breathe!). On the flight, I shake uncontrollably, my muscles tense up, and I usually end up crying. Like, ugly crying. However, I love to travel. I want to see the world with my husband and my family. My husband’s family also lives in another state, and we have to fly to see them. When my grandfather was alive, he made a vow that he would never fly because it scared him too much. I cannot and will not do that. So I do whatever it takes to mentally, emotionally, and spiritually prepare myself for the flight. I remind myself that whatever is waiting on the other side of the plane is worth the panic attacks.

Some anxiety is not worth fighting. I don’t go on roller coasters because the five seconds of thrill I’d feel conquering my fear is not worth day-long stress I would feel leading up to the experience. I don’t go on high ropes courses or go bungee jumping or sky diving because I’m afraid of heights; I have given up on the desire to add those things to my bucket list.

When you’re panicking, ask yourself: If I fight my fear, will it be worth it? My criterion for choosing my battle is: Will conquering my fear help me and my loved ones? Choosing to fight against my fear of being on stage helped me to celebrate with my friend and to show my support for her. Choosing to fight against my fear of flying helps me to enjoy God’s creation and to spend time with my loved ones. Although it may take time to fully overcome my fear, chopping away at the wall of fear a little bit at a time will eventually make the wall crumble.

You are indeed stronger than you think. God has great plans for you, and He will give you strength to fight each battle that comes your way. Today, try to conquer fear a little bit at a time. If you need help, reach out to a friend. I’m always here if you need prayer or encouragement!

For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” -2 Corinthians 10:3-5

Photo by Henry Hustava on Unsplash


STOP! What are You Doing?

One day in college, I was thinking about the day I had ahead.  I had a test in one class that I was extremely anxious about, work after the test, and then other classes throughout the day.  I came out of the shower with the jitters, my mind running a mile a minute.


The voice was louder than all the sirens of obligation, worry, and anxiety blaring in my ear.

What are you doing?

I believe this voice was God.  Only He could give me peace, and only He could speak in a way that I could understand so clearly.

At the time, I was blow drying my hair.  I pulled at the tangled strands.

Your job is to focus on the next ten minutes, and that’s it. Do you have a test in ten minutes? No.  Do you have to eat in ten minutes?  No.  Do you have any classes in ten minutes?  No.  You have hair to dry.  Start drying.

It was very matter-of-fact, but it was clear, unlike the other voices I heard telling me I had to do something very quickly or else.  Whatever that meant.

So I decided to listen to the clear, peaceful, peace-giving voice that blurted out truth in my mind.

Those next ten minutes were the most peaceful ten minutes of my life.  I stroked my hair with the brush.  I listened to the whir of the blow dryer.  I hummed a tune knowing that no one else could hear me.  I was content for ten whole minutes, about the time it took for me to finish blow drying my hair.

Finally, I turned off the blow dryer.

Now what?  I thought.  I looked at the clock.  I still had to get my bag ready before I went to class.  I had to focus on the next ten minutes, nothing more.

I spent the rest of the day like that, and it was wonderful. The voices that were screaming in my head ended up shutting up by the time I made it to my test.  I spent the rest of the day in a discipline of rest.  Even though I was not resting (doing nothing) I was controlling my mind and telling myself to just focus on the next ten minutes.

A lot can change in ten minutes.

Now that I’m out of college and “adulting,” a lot of voices tend to get in the way of my enjoyment of what is right in front of me.  My followers know that I just came out of a busy season, and now I’m in a waiting period.  We’re waiting to start our careers, feeling discontentment about our jobs.  We’re waiting to buy a house, feeling discontentment from renting.  We’re waiting to have kids, honestly because we just don’t want kids right now.  We’re waiting for a sense of satisfaction, a sense of contentment, and because of that, we’re anxious.

When are we going to get new jobs?

When are we going to have a house?

When are we going to have kids?

And because of all the “When’s” in our lives, there has been a lot of preparing and planning.  When we have new jobs, we will do things this way.  When we have a house, we’re going to decorate it that way.  When we have kids, we’re going to raise them in this manner.  But honestly, God convicted me this morning with James 4.  We don’t know what’s going to happen even next week!  How do we know what our lives will be like when we go through these changes?  We didn’t know how we would meet.  We didn’t know how we would get our current apartment.  We didn’t know how we would get married and even when we would get married when we first met.  God’s timing is perfect; ultimately, only He knows what will happen next year.

All we know…is what is going to happen in ten minutes.

So, my anxious friends, those who like to plan like me, I challenge you to only focus on the next ten minutes of your life.  It is not a selfish thing to do.  It is not wrong.  It is a way for you to feel a sense of control over your life. I know as Christians we should be relying on God to control our lives, but He has also given us responsibility over our lives, and it is human nature to want to have control of something.  May I remind you that one of the fruits of the Spirit is self-control.  When you are anxious, you are not in control.  Take a deep breath and plan the next ten minutes of your day.  Does it involve doing your hair?  Does it involve journaling?  Does it involve spending ten precious minutes with the one who loves your soul?  Beyond that is where your trust in God comes in.  Trust that God will provide what you need, when you need it.  Only God knows what will happen beyond ten minutes from now.  Will you trust in mere humans who are pressuring you to get your life together, or will you trust in the One who has given you your life and has spent all of eternity planning your future?

Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.”  As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil.  If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them. 

-James 4:13-17

Photo by Kai Pilger on Unsplash