Stress: Fellowship over Fear
“If you think things are hard now, wait until you’re an adult!”
Yes. That’s what every teenager LOVES to hear from the adults in their life when they’re stressed to the max. Not.
But now that you’re adulting, you realise that there is some truth to what they were saying. Life tends to get more and more stressful as you get older. The responsibilities continue to grow as the bills come in, life decisions need to be made, and your network of friends seems to be moving further and further away.
However, it is important to note that stress and anxiety are not always bad things. For example, there are stressors in our lives that can actually be quite positive: starting a new job, entering a new semester, or moving out on your own. Over the past year I interviewed for over ten jobs and I was nervous for every single one. A certain level of anxiety was helpful because it encouraged me to actually prepare instead of binge-watching The Crown.
Stress and anxiety are age old. The Bible prepares us for difficult times in our life and says that we should find joy in them, as they lead to perseverance and maturity.
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. (James 1:2-4)
The problem with stress and anxiety is when we find ourselves weighed down or paralysed by worry. When anxiety becomes too overwhelming to handle we may see the symptoms of anxiety disorders such as generalised anxiety disorder (GAD), social anxiety disorder, panic disorder, phobias, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), or obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). If you think that you may be struggling with anxiety more so than the average person, it is important that you take care of yourself. Speaking to your friends and family about this and visiting your GP is a great place to start. The Mind website could be a helpful site to look at some of the basics about anxiety and mental health:
As Christians, it is important to remember that God gives us guidance, strength, rest, and security in the midst of stress and anxiety. Have a look at an older More Precious post, exploring this wonderful truth.
We have a loving God who doesn’t want us to be anxious and he encourages us to give our concerns about tomorrow back to him. He promises us peace greater than we can wrap our heads around.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, 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
But there may be some of you who have seen this verse before and have maybe prayed that God would heal you of your anxieties. You may have even been really vulnerable with someone and they responded in an unhelpful way. What’s often left after these times is confusion, frustration, or despair.
Please know that you are not alone. Firstly, there are loads of other people who are struggling just like you. Guaranteed, there are others in your church who are going through a similar journey. Secondly, God knows what you’re experiencing. He is not blind to your struggles and we know that he weeps when we weep. He sees you and He cares for you. Thirdly, we have amazing resources in the UK to help support young adults just like you. Speak to someone you trust about what you are going through.
Finally, we as sisters in Christ need to encourage one another in two different ways. On the one hand, let’s be women who challenge ourselves and others to pray first and worry later. And yet, on the other hand, if we see a sister overwhelmed with anxiety, let’s not condemn her to “just stop worrying”, but let’s help lift the burden from her back, pray with her, and be a compassionate ear to hear what she’s going through.
Because, let’s be honest, adulting is hard.
Kenzi and her husband moved to London from Canada, which explains why she loves hiking up mountains and has had a few bear encounters. She is trained as a mental health therapist and is currently working for a local authority to help prevent homelessness in the city. Kenzi feels honoured to have Holy Trinity Brompton (HTB) as a faith family and often exhales as she walks in on a Sunday morning to her church home.