You Don’t Need to Freak Out
Studies estimate that the average person has between 50,000 and 80,000 thoughts a day. Think about that! (See what I did there? And now you’ve just had 80,001.)
While many of these are relatively mundane thoughts, like whether to take a shower before work or comment on your friend’s social-media post, there are still many thoughts that, if you allow them, will direct you toward the path of panic and anxiety.
Think about the thoughts you’ve had in your mind today or over this past week.
Have your thoughts today been full of fear or full of faith? More stressed or more relaxed? Negative or positive? Thankful or discontent? Anxious or peaceful? Focused on your temporary circumstances or on God’s eternal truths? Related to yourself or others?
How would you describe them?
My guess is a mixture of all of the above. But the more negative, fearful, worried, stressed, and self-centered your thoughts are, the more anxious your mind will be.
Consider what today could look like if you choose thoughts centered on truths from God’s Word, such as:
- God is good and in control, so I can trust him.
- God is for me and working everything together for good.
- God placed me here on purpose.
- I am never alone because God is with me.
- God will meet all my needs because he cares about me.
- Nothing can keep me from God’s love.
- This life is a vapor, and my problems are small compared to what great things await me in eternity.
- My past doesn’t define me; Christ does.
- I am forgiven, loved, and accepted.
If thoughts like these were constantly on your mind, how much more peace filled would you be? How much of your negative self-talk would end? How less worried would you feel? How much better would you sleep?
What trains of thought do you need to replace? According to the Apostle Paul, if you are not on the thought train of truth, purity, excellence, and worship, you are on the wrong train.
Half Truths Are Half Lies
One of the biggest challenges about the anxious thoughts we have is that there is some truth in them. That’s why they can be so powerful. If there was absolutely no truth to our thoughts, we wouldn’t be tempted to dwell on them. But half truths are only half true, so they must be replaced with full truths. Stay with me if that sounds confusing. Some half truths could be:
- I will never be good enough.
- I don’t have friends who care about me.
- I will never get married.
- I am not pretty enough.
- I will never be able to conquer my depression.
- My brother will always be an addict.
- My mom is going to die from cancer.
- I may die in a car accident.
- My boyfriend is going to break up with me.
- I will never get promoted.
- I will never get out of debt.
What makes thoughts like these hard to ignore is the little bit of truth in them. They are partly true but not the whole truth.
Maybe you think, I may never get married. There is some truth to that. You may never get married, but that isn’t the full truth. God’s Word states what is completely true: in Christ, you have everything you need. God will never leave you or forsake you. You have never been alone and never will be. You already have the only relationship that will truly satisfy.
You might find yourself thinking, I will never be good enough. That’s partly true but not entirely. The entire truth is, you will never be good enough on your own. But the Bible says that through Christ you are more than enough. In fact, it says that when you feel weak (a.k.a. as if you are not enough), God’s power is strong in you and makes you way more than enough. Shortcomings, according to the Bible, are superpowers because they can lead you to experience God’s supernatural power.
Maybe you think, My friends don’t care about me. I could tell you that of course your friends care about you, but that may not be true (especially if they’re not Christians). What is true is that no matter who cares about you, we are here to care for people and serve, not be served. That’s what we as Christians are on this planet to do: love people.
You might struggle with thinking that your value is found in how you look, where you work, or what you earn. Here’s the truth: other people can determine your value by where you work, how much you earn, or how you look, but the opinions of other people don’t matter and won’t last. Your true worth has already been defined by God. He finds you so valuable that he gave his life for you. That’s how much you are worth. What matters to the world does not matter to God. Are you going to let it matter to you? Will you let what others think define you, or let what Jesus did on the cross define you? That’s a choice you have to make.
As I write this, we are in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, along with racial and political unrest. Hundreds of thousands of people in the United States have lost their lives, and millions of people have lost their livelihoods. Panic and fear have swept through homes. People have buried sons, daughters, mothers, fathers, grandparents, and friends.
It can be easy to think, Someone I know could get this virus and die. I could get this virus and die!—which has some truth to it. You or someone you know could get sick and die. Or maybe you’re worried that a friend will be a victim of police brutality. Some truth? Yes. But it’s not the whole truth. The Bible says that God has numbered our days (see Job 14:5; Psalm 139:16). He is in control, and nothing happens without him allowing it. Before I was born, he had already determined the length of my life. I won’t live one day longer or shorter than he has planned. That’s the whole truth.
I can rest in that or get on the Anxious Express. One road leads to peace, the other to panic.
Adapted from WE’RE ALL FREAKING OUT (and Why We Don’t Need To): Finding Freedom from Your Anxious Thoughts and Feelings © 2021 by David James Marvin. Published by WaterBrook, an imprint of Random House, a division of Penguin Random House LLC, on October 5, 2021.
David Marvin leads The Porch, a Tuesday night ministry for thousands of young adults that meets across 14 locations in nine states. Marvin received his master’s degree in biblical studies from Dallas Theological Seminary and has been on staff at Watermark Community Church for 12 years helping lead, teach, and build into the next generation of young adults. In addition to his role as a pastor, he is the author of WE’RE ALL FREAKING OUT (and Why We Don’t Need To): Finding Freedom from Your Anxious Thoughts and Feelings, but his first priority is being a husband to his wife, Calli, who is a licensed counselor. They reside with their two children, Crew and Monroe, in Dallas, Texas.