I never truly experienced anxiety until I had children. I’ve always been rather decisive and practical, not one to worry when there wasn’t cause. And if there was reason to worry, I was more likely to take action to fix the source of my anxiety than to sit and stew over it.
But then, I became a mom. I remember staring in amazement at the faint second line on a pregnancy test in my bathroom, my heart swelling with hope and love. Five days later, the little life that I had so joyously welcomed drained out of me, and I wept bitter tears of sorrow and disbelief.
It was then that I realized that my children’s lives were beyond my control.
When another test was positive a few short months later, I rejoiced, but only tentatively this time. I knew now that this little one’s life was a gift, not a guarantee. For nine months, I battled anxiety, waiting until she would arrive and the worry could come to an end. I was sure that when I held her in my arms, I would be able to breathe a sigh of relief.
How naïve I was.
For when they handed that squalling, pink bundle to me, I realized that the fight against worry was more than just a battle. It was an all-out war. And it was only just beginning.
Over the past six years, I have fought battle after battle in this war. Some I have won, and others, I’ve lost. For every milestone, fever, rash, heartache, failure, hurdle, or trial my children have experienced, I have had to go to war in the battle against anxiety. And this battle is certainly not limited to my motherhood. It has clawed its way into other areas of life, too. Finances. Health. The future.
Thankfully, my Father is gracious to equip me for battle. The first weapon with which He has outfitted me is prayer. “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time He may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on Him, because He cares for you,” says 1 Peter 5:6-7. What a comfort to go to the Lord with our worries and know that we are loved! I have found such solace in placing my burdens at His feet.
The second weapon has surprised me more than the first. This weapon is gratitude. I’ve realized that anxiety is often ingratitude masquerading as concern. Anxiety says, “Unless the gift is promised for tomorrow, too, I cannot enjoy it today.” Anxiety isn’t content with the fact that there is enough food or money or home or health for this moment. It demands reassurance that we will also receive these blessings in the future.
I have found that thankfulness often banishes worry. When I fear the loss of something precious, I stop and thank God that I currently possess that thing. When I worry about a relationship, I stop and thank God that He has come to redeem relationships through Jesus. When I fear for the future, I stop and thank God for today.
Philippians 4: 5-7 says, “Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Italics mine)
Gratitude works to reorient my perspective. It reminds me that God has always provided for my needs, and I can trust Him to do so in the future. Indeed, it is the most reasonable response to anxiety. How can I worry when my Father has so graciously provided so much for me already? Certainly, He can be trusted with the good gifts He has given. And as I choose gratitude, I find that worry is banished.