A girl sitting with a bird thinking about the mixture of anxiety and Christianity


I Thought Anxiety and Christianity Weren’t Supposed to Mix

Abby Weinberger

9 mins

There I was: 13 years old, my mom sitting on top of me, praying that God would remove the demon from me.

What, you’ve never been there before?

To be fair, she was rightfully confused and doing the only thing she could think to do. How else could she explain this intense, physical reaction I was having preparing for a history test the next day?

Yes, that was the cause of my first panic attack - dread over failing an exam. If you’ve had one of these episodes, it’s not fun (neither was my mom sitting on me, though).

I’ve been anxious for as long as I can remember, and that anxiety ruled my life for many of those years. But as I searched for healing, I discovered something I hadn’t expected that brought me so much freedom and hope.

I Thought Anxiety and Christianity Weren’t Supposed to Mix

And it wasn’t God waving a magic wand and ripping the anxiety nemesis out of me (though that would’ve been a sight to see).

But to understand the answer I found, I have to explain the lies that faced me.

It Seemed Like Anxiety and Christianity Were Not Supposed to Mix

Growing up in a Christian family, when my parents started noticing I was a “worried kid,” they had pretty simple answers: my anxiety was a sign of a lack of faith.

You just need to trust God, and then you won’t be so anxious.”

The Bible says don’t be anxious about anything.”

Worry is a sin.”

People always told me if I just had more faith, my anxiety would go away, and I was sure it was my fault - my failure - that I was anxious.

But how much faith was enough to overcome my anxiety? I was really trying, and the anxiety wouldn’t go away.

I prayed. I worshiped. I studied the Bible. I met with mentors. I taught kids about Jesus. I tried to “trust more” and “have more faith,” whatever that meant. I tried everything people said I should do.

Nothing worked.

I Thought Anxiety and Christianity Weren’t Supposed to Mix

When would all that be good enough so my anxiety would go away? If a mustard seed-sized faith could move mountains, why did I need mountain-sized faith to not feel anxious? Maybe you’ve been there, too. It’s a lonely place to be.

But here’s when things started to change…

I had reached my senior year in high school, and my parents decided to send me to counseling because, and I quote, “You’re a mess, and we can’t let you leave the house like this.” (This, though harsh, was accurate).

Pretty quickly into my regular meetings with a licensed counselor, they identified that I wasn’t just a worried kid, but I had an anxiety disorder.

This wasn’t just a spiritual thing, but a brain chemistry thing.

It wasn’t an issue with my lack of faith but an issue with my brain’s biological wiring. This completely changed the way I looked at my anxiety. Once I had the grace to say, “This isn’t because I’m a failure; it’s because my brain processes the world differently,” I could see how anxiety and Christianity interacted, and I was close to finding an ‘answer.’

Maybe you’re reading this and thinking, “I don’t have an anxiety disorder. How does this apply to me?

But this answer I’m about to explain - this hope - doesn’t just apply to those with a specific mental health diagnosis. God does not want any of us to worry (Matthew 6:25-36) whether or not we have an anxiety disorder.

Because there are many things in life that can cause us all to worry and consume our thoughts. It could be little things throughout the day, like social interactions or the busy commute to work. Maybe it’s one big thing, like a sick relative, a stressful job, or tight finances. Perhaps you only struggle with worry sometimes.

I Thought Anxiety and Christianity Weren’t Supposed to Mix

So whatever worry looks like to you, I believe God wants you to know this simple truth:

God Is Faithful to Be With You Through Whatever You Face

And Bringing These Things to God Will Draw You Into Deeper Intimacy With Him (if You Let Them)

Okay…but how is that supposed to help our anxiety?

It starts with knowing that Jesus tells us we will have trouble in this world.

That’s a promise. Yikes.

And as tough as that is to hear, we all know it to be true. As much as we want, we can’t escape suffering. But when you look deeper, that truth can actually be pretty freeing. It means we can stop being surprised when we experience suffering of any kind. And in turn, we can feel the presence of God amid our suffering.

Every other religion in the world will try to tell you how to avoid the sufferings of this life. They will tell you that suffering is bad, and if you’re experiencing it, you probably did something to deserve it. Heck, there are even a lot of Christians who teach this.

So if we’re brave enough to accept that suffering can be inevitable and that what God promises is not the removal of suffering but his presence in the midst of it…that, I believe, is where true joy and freedom exist:

“…but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” (Romans 5:3-5)

And, there were still healthy, practical ways to deal with my anxiety. In the past, I had developed anxiety about my anxiety. I had become obsessed with ridding myself of it and the suffering it brought. My self-blame and self-hatred were keeping me from dealing with my anxiety healthily.

But I realized the solution wasn’t about killing my anxiety with fire. It was about being patient, gentle, and prayerful about it.

I Thought Anxiety and Christianity Weren’t Supposed to Mix

I Started Praying Patiently About My Anxiety and God Began Slowly Working

Instead of praying that I would be miraculously healed of my anxiety, I started looking at ways that I could better manage my anxiety with God’s help. It wasn’t one big miracle cure but a million tiny ways God was walking with me through every day.

So, whenever I experienced a trigger for my anxiety, I knew I had to spend a lot of time praying, asking God to give me the strength to do even the most minor things.

Seeing a big test coming up? Prayer.

Going somewhere I’ve never been before? Prayer.

Driving on the highway? Prayer.

Calling to order pizza? LOTS of prayer (and probably some tears).

My anxiety wasn’t proving my lack of trust in God; it was forcing me to practice trusting in God constantly.

The individual prayers I pray don’t matter nearly as much as the intimacy it creates when I am talking to God all the time about everything.

I struggled to find an answer before because my questions weren’t the right ones. The question I should have been asking wasn’t about curing my anxiety.

The right question: Where is God in my anxiety? (Or, more broadly, where is God in my suffering?)

The answer: right next to me. God was there all along, inviting me into deeper trust and relationship.

Anxiety and Christianity

A Lack of Faith Was Not the Cause for My Anxiety and God Knew That…

I thought anxiety was a failure of my faith, but it turns out it was pushing me into a deeper reliance on God. It was teaching me the truth of God’s words: “My grace is enough for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9). This “weakness” gives me the daily opportunity to experience the grace and power of God and to grow closer to God. A few years ago, I heard a message about one of the passages that I had been hit over the head with for years: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” (Philippians 4:6).

But they approached it differently - instead of seeing it as condemning anxiety, we can see it as instructions for what to do when we feel anxious. When we feel anxious, we pray. The pastor said, “When you’re done praying, you will be done worrying. If you’re not done worrying, then you weren’t done praying.”

Since I can’t imagine a single moment in my life when I’ll be “done” worrying, I’ll just never be done praying. But the Bible also tells us to pray continually (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18), so I feel that works perfectly?

It’s been almost ten years since I learned I have an anxiety disorder. I still struggle with anxiety every single day. Maybe someday I’ll wake up, and my anxiety will be gone, but if not, I will celebrate my weaknesses as places where God’s power and grace can be seen and where I can know God more intimately.

I’ve learned that when I’m struggling, I can turn to God every single time. Every single time God will be with me and give me the strength I need. Every single time God is good to me.

Disclaimer: This article is 100% human-generated.

Abby Weinberger
Meet the author

Abby Weinberger

Enthusiastic baker, proud plant mom, and Bible nerd. I believe in the power of stories to encourage, challenge, and make us feel less alone.

Popular Topics