How to Keep Anxiety and Control from Eroding Your Faith


Control. The dreaded C word. As Christians, intellectually we know control as a response to doubt and fear can be problematic. We’ve all witnessed situations where someone’s need for control destroys friendships, a marriage, or a parent-child relationship. 

As someone who struggles with this myself, I am not judging others. I understand how that need for everything to be done just. the. way. you want can infiltrate every area of your life. How anxiety and fear makes it easy to justify being controlling (“I’m just being responsible financially,” “My husband doesn’t understand how important this is,” “I can't trust anyone else to do it correctly”). I’ve been there, done that. I still do that. 

A year ago, I made a significant change. I quit my consistent counseling job to start my own private practice. I’d been praying for almost two years and felt like God was calling me to do this. I set up my LLC, my online records, spent hours fiddling with my forms, and waited for the phone to ring.

It didn’t. 

I then decided to take insurance. I went through the process of getting paneled, filling out endless applications, updating my information, and waited for the phone to ring.

It hasn't. 

I found myself relating to the Israelites. How God called them to do something radical. They left Egypt, God parted the sea and they headed towards the Promised Land, ready to start the next phase of their lives.  

And then they wandered in the desert. For forty years.

I wandered for several months, then found a different job for the past year, only to realize that my contract is ending in six weeks. So I’m searching for a job. Again.

I’m still wandering.

But instead of wandering in faith, I find myself like the Israelites, I doubt. I complain. I get tired of waiting. Because the path isn’t going where I think it should, I try to control my future by worrying constantly, scouring the internet for different jobs, or reviewing our budget over and over.

I begin to believe the lie that if I do enough, I can will myself into the Promised Land. That if I stress enough, research enough, do enough, I don’t need to wait on God. I'll guide my own path. 

Unfortunately, when I’m then faced with barriers or things don’t move at my pace, I'm filled with  disappointment and doubt. I become more controlling of my path and push God even farther away. Instead of spending time with Him, I focus exclusively on my own needs, my own anxieties and my own doubts.

I justify control of my life because I stop believing that God is moving in my life. I shove my belief in Him to the side and try to control my life even more, making decisions without praying first, jumping and committing to things because I'm trying to make something happen.

I don’t think I’m the only one that lets control, disappointment and doubt erode my relationship with God.

So how do we keep our confidence and faith focused on Him and not our own fears?

Ask God to strengthen your faith. Just like the father in Mark 9:24, I ask God to help me with my disbelief in His plan, His power and His love for me. To renew my confidence that He does have a plan for my life, plans to help me prosper. When I'm confident in His plan, when my faith is strong, it becomes easier to shush the anxiety and frustration that festers in my heart. 

Shift your perspective. I’d like to say that after praying for an increased faith, my worry dissipates permanently and I’m “cured” of my doubt. However, the moment those tendrils of fear wrap around my heart, I fall back into my doubt and frustration. So lately, I’ve turned to Psalms to gain perspective.

I find comfort in David’s cries to God and realize that if David could praise God in the midst of Saul trying to kill him, I can handle some uncertainty about my job and my future. Recently, after I had just vented my frustration about my job hunt, a friend of mine shared that one of her teenage relatives had just been diagnosed with cancer. Humbled, I had to remember that while anxiety makes some of our trials seem huge in the moment, they could be far worse.

Embrace God’s unconditional love (and wisdom). 1 Peter 5:7 (NIV) tells us to “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” Instead of scouring the internet for job listings or trying to find more money by budgeting endlessly as a way to control my anxiety, I need to turn to Him. To open my Bible and read His words of love. To remember that His love for me means He won't let me fail. Instead, He wants me to stay focused on Him and not let my frustration and doubt distract me from His unconditional love.

If you are struggling with control, with doubt, with disappointment, remember that we serve a God so much mightier than we can imagine. In 1 John 4:18 (NIV), we are reminded that "There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear..." When we surrender and let His love replace the anxiety inside, our desire for control disappears and we find peace and a renewed faith in Him.



This post was also shared in the amazing Moms Encouraging Moms group on Facebook!

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