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Source: Relevant Magazine – Rhett Smith

Is There Room for Anxiety in the Church?

“Letting go and letting God” isn’t that simple.

It is more than likely that if you have ever taken the risk to share your anxiety within the Christian community, you have heard some counsel in the form of the Apostle Paul’s exhortation in Philippians 4:6. Paul says to the “holy people” at Philippi, “Do not be anxious about anything.” It’s a very powerful verse, a favorite of mine, and one that Christians have turned to time and time again when they experience anxiety. But what if it’s just not that simple?

I believe that when we cite this as the cure-all to one’s anxiety, we mean very well. In fact, many find comfort with the recitation of these six simple words. But in our attempts to help others and perhaps deflect our own anxiety and feelings of helplessness, we can inadvertently communicate the wrong message.

Often in my counseling practice, a Christian will come in to tell me they have tried to follow the “biblical counsel” of others to not be anxious, but their anxiety doesn’t quite seem to dissipate.

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“Is something wrong with me? Am I a bad Christian?” they desperately ask me.

“No, nothing is wrong with you,” I tell them. “What if God is using your anxiety to speak to you? What might God be saying to you?”

When we discourage others from safely expressing their anxiety, then we are essentially saying to them that anxiety is a bad emotion and that it is something to be done away with. It communicates to them that perhaps something is wrong with their Christian faith, and they begin to internalize the message, “I’m a Christian. I’m not supposed to be anxious.”

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