Fear, Anxiety, and Prayer

The other night as I was brushing my teeth, I found myself in prayer, as I often do. This particular night, however, I was praying specifically about the ball of amorphous anxiety I felt as a tension in my chest. The Young Adults group I'm in had just recently read the passage in Philippians 4:6-7 that directs us to pray to God about our anxieties. It had stood out to me, in the NASB translation we read, that this prayer should even include pleading. So it was that my prayer to God while I brushed my teeth was a desperate cry for revelation—I didn't even know what that ball of anxiety was about. Why was it there? What was it's source? How could I pray to God about my anxieties if I didn't even know what they were?

Once I'd finished what ended up being a rather long session of brushing my teeth, God used memories of a Tweet from GlitchyReal about writing ideas down to prompt me to pen the following:

There's a certain sort of fragility that comes from being a people-pleaser who is academically gifted.

You see, being a people-pleaser comes from a place of fear—it feels safe when people are pleased with you, but unsafe when they aren't. How might they try to punish you for being displeasing? This is a root of nebulous anxiety, a binding fear.

For me, being academically capable was an easy way to be pleasing to others. And, well, I found it easy until partway through college. That was when I was finally confronted with a real academic challenge, and I had no idea how to handle it. The ease I'd had with school meant I'd never been truly prepared for academic failure—a failure that would be displeasing to others, and that would lead to a loss of safety and security. This is when my struggles with tension headaches began.

I've never had problems with failing myself. I don't judge myself like that—challenges are meant to be overcome if the reward or joy in meeting it prove sufficient. But I am terrified of failing others. I make the consequences enormous, but amorphous, in my subconscious imagination.

I don't like being a people-pleaser, at least not in this fear-based way. It is crippling and repressive. Also, I don't think anyone who loves me would want me to live with it. The problem is, I don't know how to get rid of it. How do I find the deep sense of safety and security that could displace—and ultimately dispel—this fear? I don't know, but I pray that Jesus would show me the way.

After writing this, God gave me a revelation of Truth: Fear is weakness and love is strength. Interestingly, this finally helped give me a way of describing a change in a character in Guild Wars 1's Hearts of the North mini-story. This character goes from being a leader so that he could feel needed to leading by striding forward in conviction. In other words, he goes from leading from a place of fear to leading from a place of love. That God would use an example from a video game I love is no surprise—I've found He often uses the things we love to guide us.

This is the second time I feel that God has revealed a Truth to me (the first time was about the nature of lust—the short version is that it is a disease of the imagination). These Truths feel primal to me, fundamental in nature. Critically, they are capable of pushing through the barrier between mind and heart, where they work their transforming power through being Known by the inner being, and not merely the mind.

It will take time, I think, to overcome the fears and anxieties, but I know God will help me to use this Truth—that fear is weakness and love is strength—to gain ground from them. As more and more of that ground is conquered, it'll be easier to crush the internal rebellions of fear when they arise. Because, ultimately, I want to live my life motivated not by fear, but by love.

Thank you for reading.

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