Fear and anxiety are an unfortunate part of life. The two are interrelated for many people. When faced with fear, you might respond with the physical reaction of feeling anxious, or being anxious may cause you to fear. Either way, these two emotions can be enough to dramatically change one’s life. For some, it may be more of a constant distraction – knowing fear/anxiety is there in their mind. For others, it’s debilitating to the point where one’s life is a constant struggle against the darkness that is crushing them from all sides. The good news is, there’s hope for all people who deal with fear and anxiety.
#1 Surefire Way to Battle Fear + Anxiety: Give Your Life to Jesus
God didn’t create us to walk through life alone, constantly in a state of fear or anxiety. He wants us to trust our lives with Him, which can only be done when we give our lives to Jesus and believe He died on the cross to save us from our sins. Once we ask Him to be the Lord of our life, we no longer have to rely on ourselves to get through difficulties in our life. He becomes our primary source of strength and is our help in times of trouble.
#2 Surefire Way to Battle Fear + Anxiety: Prayer
As some of you know, I am a teacher. For the past two school years, I have taught in 4 different school districts as a substitute teacher.
If there’s one thing I know for sure, it’s this: walking into a brand new classroom every day is a challenge.
The students don’t know you and you don’t know what works best for them. When you get a classroom with a handful of behavior-challenged students who are stoked to take advantage of the substitute teacher, it’s enough to make one question why on earth they chose this job in the first place.
Substitute teaching my first year in Title I schools was definitely the most challenging year of my life as far as anxiety in the workplace goes. I would be thrown into classrooms that were absolute chaos and the teacher herself was taking a “mental health day” because she didn’t want to deal with her own class anymore.
I had students throw chairs at each other. I dealt with vulgar language from students who could barely read yet knew the strongest words in our English vocabulary. There were multiple instances where I had to lock my students in a different classroom because a student was violent in our own classroom and the safety of the rest of my students was at risk. Worst of all, I dealt with outright defiance from students without the support of the principal when called for help.
There was literally nothing I could do when students refused to obey and nobody with a greater authority than me was willing to help. Talk about feeling helpless.
Is your blood level rising yet? Because mine is just recalling many instances like this.
And let me suffice by saying when I was a student teacher, my mentor teacher, mentor principal, and supervisor all told me my number one strength was classroom management. So not all of this classroom chaos can be blamed on inadequate teaching skills. (Of course, as a first year teacher, I also had a lot to learn).
The ONE thing that helped me through the difficult days like what I described above was this: prayer.
It was always a surrender kind of prayer – like Lord I CANNOT do this on my own and I am WORN OUT. I NEED your help. I would be shaking (literally) in my classroom after hours of trying to manage my students without success. (Praise the Lord this was not everyday, but on the occasions that I had the extremely out of control classrooms, it was).
And when I called out to God for help, He always answered.
On one occasion, he sent an army vet to come into my classroom as a volunteer and help me manage the students. No where in the sub notes did the teacher mention a volunteer would be in to help me for the majority of the day. It was my own little miracle. There’s something about having a male in the room with a loud booming voice that helps the students snap out of their devilish behavior. He was a lifesaver that day.
Another time, I was called into the principal’s office at the start of the day to be prepped on how awful my class was going to be that day. I was the FOURTH sub they had called in (they don’t tell you these things when they post the job). I walked into my classroom with my heart beating out of my chest, absolutely dreading the day ahead of me. But I prayed. Every second as I prepared the materials for the day, I prayed. And the craziest thing happened…
Yes, the class was difficult. Very difficult. BUT by the end of the day, I had love in my heart for every single student in that classroom. Even the one who was saying the F word as a kindergartner, and the one who told me they hated me over and over and over again, and the one was climbing on counters across the back of the classroom and refused to get down or listen to a word I was saying.
I saw each and every child through God’s eyes. And that changed everything. I even came back the next day to sub again and finish up the week because nobody else would take the job to sub for them. And Friday went just as well as Thursday as far as my sanity goes. Was it a perfect two days? Heckkkkkkkk no. It was two of the hardest days of my life. But the love in my heart God gave me and the compassion I felt for these hurting children is what helped me get through.
And let me tell you people, it was NOT because of me. God was there with me the entire day. He gave me the strength to get through, the words to say, the right reactions to outrageous behavior, and I continually was in communication with Him throughout the day. He diminished my fears and anxiety and replaced them with only the kind of love God is capable of giving. It brings tears to my eyes as I remember God’s faithfulness because I know I am not alone when I call on Him. He will never give us more than we can handle without His help. And I’m a firm believer we can get through ANYTHING with God.
#3 Surefire Way to Battle Fear + Anxiety: Worship
I was recently hired as a 3rd grade teacher at Lighthouse Christian School and to say I’m excited would be an understatement. I am overjoyed to teach at the school I grew up attending, but most of all I’m stoked to teach my students about Jesus. I get excited every single time I think about it. It is the most incredible thing to be in a school and talk openly about God all the time and not get in trouble for it or fear that I’m saying something that oversteps my bounds. I’ve been substitute teaching at Lighthouse for the second half of this school year and have been able to pray with my students, teach Bible lessons, and talk about God freely.
On one particular day when I was subbing for 2nd grade, a staff member at LCS was sharing a Bible lesson with all the 2nd graders. I was sitting in the back of the room keeping an eye on my class, but I got to enjoy the Bible lesson as well.
One of the stories he shared was about a friend of his who was a soldier in Afghanistan. In hopes of not completely butchering this story (it was told to me over 6 weeks ago so the details are less present in my mind), I’ll keep it brief. But essentially, this friend of his and the friend’s team of soldiers were in a scary predicament where they were facing the Taliban and felt this total darkness surrounding them.
They felt evil all around unlike any kind of evil they’d ever felt before. The friend, who is a Christian, prayed (I believe with the other soldiers who were with him) but the evil did not diminish. Then his friend started worshiping, singing praises to God, and the evil immediately fled. The most amazing part of this story is that when the Taliban were asked why they had not attacked the soldiers, they shared that they would have but when they saw huge fierce warriors surrounding them, they left in fear.
This is an incredible story that reminds us of God’s power and faithfulness when we show Him our faith and trust is in Him alone.
#4 Surefire Way to Battle Fear + Anxiety: Remember God’s Promises in Scripture
It’s easy to be fearful and anxious when we rely on ourselves. Our thoughts tend to be our worst enemy, tearing us down rather than building us up. That’s why we have to remember what God tells us in the Bible and put our trust in Him.
We can look to scriptures such as these to give us strength:
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:6-7 (NIV)
“The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.” -Psalm 18:2 (NIV)
“for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” -2 Timothy 1:7 (ESV)
“When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought joy to my soul.” –Psalm 94:19 (NIV)
“Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid,for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me.” -Psalm 23:4 (NLT)
“So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.”– Matthew 6:34 (NLT)
“The Lord is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me? The Lord is on my side as my helper; I shall look in triumph on those who hate me.” -Psalm 118:6-7 (ESV)
“But even if you suffer for doing what is right, God will reward you for it. So don’t worry or be afraid of their threats.” -1 Peter 3:14 (NLT)
Anxiety and fear are real. We shouldn’t undermine the reality of them and pretend these emotions don’t exist. Instead, we can acknowledge that God is greater than any fear or anxiety we may experience. He can wipe out those emotions or give us the strength we need to face them and overcome them. God loves you so much and will not leave you in your times of trouble. Have faith and put your trust in Jesus.