Such a fun morning exploring Papago Park in Arizona. Climbing up the beautiful red rock formed millions of years ago produced anxiety in me as I trekked up the incline of sliding rocks searching for a strong footing. I charged through and with some helping hands of those already enjoying the view from the top, I was pulled up into the rock cave.
I carefully made my way towards the precipice to take my seat in the theatre of the earth and sky displayed before me. As I settled in to the peacefulness of the view pondering my anxiety of the climb, I noticed a family of four trekking the incline of rolling stones trying to reach the rock cave where we were.
The trek would prove more difficult than the playground for the little girl and her mom, but her brother and Dad were up in the cave so fast that they left the stones rolling under their feet.
At each step, the little girl had a question for her mom about the climb and with each answer she had to make a choice do I stay here or do I go on? As her mom answered each question to reduce her anxiety the little girl took the next step towards the top.
As I listened to their dialogue I was certain there was no way the little girl was going to join her dad and brother in the cave. Her anxiety seemed too far gone. But with each gentle answer from her mom she reduced her anxiety and before I knew it they were up in the cave at the top!
I couldn’t help but relate my struggle with anxiety. Not just for climbing the Papago’s, but in a ton of things that keep my mind tied up in fear.
As I reflected on my anxiety, I could see that I have let it become a habit and pattern in my life. I love this quote from Erma Bombeck about worry:
“Worry is like a rocking chair; it gives you something to do but never gets you anywhere.”
It sure does give me something to do and it makes me feel awful as I let fear keep me rocking the chair!
The biggest victory to breaking the habit and pattern is to recognize that worry is a choice and we can decide whether we will trust or worry. As the gentle trustworthy voice of the mom spoke into her little girl, she made the choice to trust and she made it to the top!
Making the Choice to Reduce Anxiety
Reducing my anxiety means I have to make the choice. Am I going to trust God or trust the habit and pattern of my worrying, which gets me nowhere!
Making the choice means I have to take the risk to trust and realize that fear does not have the power to destroy me.
Making the choice means I will pray through my anxiety and fears.
Mark Batterson talks about how to do the work of praying through in his book The Circle Maker. He says:
“Praying through is all about consistency…like the story Jesus told about the persistent widow who drove the judge crazy with her relentless requests (Luke 18:1-8), praying through won’t take no for an answer.”
Much like the gentle voice of the little girl’s mom who would not take no for an answer as she guided her daughter to trust and take the next step, our heavenly Father wants us to listen for His gentle voice trusting His guidance for our next step. Being persistent with our relentless requests to reduce our anxiety and to replace it with trust in Him.
Just like the little girl climbing to the top of the cave and her fears, I must tune my ear and mind to the gentle voice of God and relinquish my habit and pattern of worry and fear over to Him. He is capable! His Word tells us:
“I will not fail you or abandon you…this is my command, be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:5-9)
It was such a great feeling to have conquered the red rock climb up and down, listening to the gentle voice of my heavenly Father, exchanging fear’s lies for God’s truth!
Replacing our Anxiety with Truth
“Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me, everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.” (Philippians 4:8-9)
“I sought the Lord, and He answered me; he delivered me from all my fears.” (Psalm 34:4)