This week, we celebrate freedom. As a writer and a Christian, I am especially grateful for the freedom of speech and the freedom of religion. In some countries, writing this post could land me in jail. Reading news stories of persecuted Christians around the world reminds me how blessed I am, but I can’t claim to truly appreciate the freedom I have as an American. I have never experienced actual persecution.
“I have learned to replace my negative thoughts and feelings with truth from God’s Word.”
What I have experienced has been a different kind of struggle that has for too long held me hostage: severe anxiety disorder. It can strike at any time – obviously, when I am stressed and overwhelmed, but also when my life is going well. The fear that everything will fall apart can overtake me, and I feel certain whatever disaster I imagine will be all my fault. It gives me constant racing thoughts and a clenched, upset stomach, and it makes me want to hide in my closet in a fetal position.
A Battle Strategy
I have been in my share of counseling. I look back through my past to realize a combination of natural wiring and life circumstances have caused me to be the way I am. To handle my anxiety, I have taken medication, read self-help books, journaled, talked about my feelings, and tried to change my circumstances. These tools have helped, but they don’t stop me from feeling like a victim. It wasn’t until my women’s small group at the Seacoast Greenville campus studied Christie Michaud’s book, The Believer’s Battle Strategy, that I recognized I didn’t just have to understand my anxious thoughts and feelings; I could fight them.
“Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.” – 1 Peter 5:8 NLT
Satan uses my anxious tendencies against me. He is strong, smart, and crafty. But no matter how hard he works to defeat me, his power is limited because I serve a God who is almighty and all powerful. Jesus has already defeated Satan on the cross. And God’s Word is a tangible tool I can use against Satan. I have learned to replace my negative thoughts and feelings with truth from God’s Word.
The difference in this approach may seem subtle. But it has transformed my attitude. I have gone from thinking “poor me” to feeling a sense of competitiveness against Satan. Yes, I still have anxiety, but I am sharpening my sword, which is my knowledge of the Word of God. In fact, I take it as a compliment that Satan messes with me. It means I am a threat.
You may not struggle with anxiety, but everyone struggles with something. I’ve learned you can find true victory—even if nothing about your circumstance changes.
What about you? This Independence Day, I encourage you to take a step toward freedom. Maybe that means reaching out to a pastor, starting to read the Word of God, or joining a small group. Freedom is worth fighting for.