Once I retraced my steps through anxiety and pinpointed where certain thought patterns and traps began, I was able to move into “application” with that knowledge. Just like in Scripture where it says “Be doers of the Word, not hearers only” (James 1:22), we have to put truth into action if we’re going to be transformed. In other words, we can’t just absorb and internally dwell on what changes we need to make; we need to actually make those changes.
However, the first step in walking forward is fully acknowledging that we can do NOTHING in our own power. It is completely and totally the Lord’s abundant life in us. It’s also healthy to acknowledge that there might be seasons of time when you need professional assistance from a Christian therapist, who can walk with you on your journey. Emotional health is a very complex thing, and while we can often do the work just between ourselves and the Lord, there is NO shame in seeking out godly counsel and help.
One of the most beautiful things about humanity is that we are all wired differently. Every single human in existence – past, present and future – is uniquely created and knit together by a personal, loving, tender Creator. One of the ways we can live in freedom after working through a difficult season, struggle or trial is to learn who we are.
Take a personality test (I recommend the 16 Personalities website). Take a spiritual gifts inventory (click here to take an inventory). Read about how your birth order is important. The point is, take joy in celebrating your unique nature. It might seem totally unrelated to living a transformed life, but it made all the difference for me. For instance, I confirmed my long-held belief that I am indeed a strong introvert (but I sometimes appear to be an extrovert, which can send mixed messages to people). It was a big step in the process for me to dig deep and discover more about who God created me to be. I’m able to make decisions and process information through a lens of understanding the way my unique mind operates.
Another step that is important in walking forward is to figure out our “triggers.”
I sat down and thought about times that I was distinctly anxious and stressed, then I looked for a common denominator. For instance, in relation to the “introvert” statement above, I realized that I feel extremely anxious and stressed when I don’t recharge in complete quiet and solitude. Now I make sure that I take time to do that, and my friends know that I just need to be alone sometimes (because social activity can be draining instead of recharging for me). The difference is that since I’ve come to understand my tendencies, and I’ve explained that to my friends, they actually help me and encourage me. One of my sweet friends sent me a text after an event that I coordinated that said “Enjoy being alone and sitting in the quiet tonight!” Being “known” for who you truly are is a wonderful thing, because it mirrors how we are known and loved by God.
Finally, we have to be honest with ourselves and God about our weaknesses and who we are in light of Christ.
What do personalities and triggers have to do with transformation? It’s representative of taking off the masks we wear (before ourselves, others, and God), and living authentically. That means celebrating how God created us and recognizing what we can avoid to keep anxiety and stress at a lower level; but it also means being completely honest with the Lord about our weaknesses and daily putting on the armor of God. In going through this process, I’ve realized that the enemy knows our weaknesses, and he knows where to target us. We have to be on constant guard and daily living in the Lord’s power.
There is great peace and freedom that comes when we are open and honest before the Lord. I’m so thankful that I don’t have to be perfect to be in relationship with Him! In fact, the Lord cherishes an honest, transparent relationship.
“For I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.” Matthew 9:13
Operating in total honesty is liberating and transformative! Begin spending time with God daily if you aren’t already, and talk to Him with complete openness. Celebrate victories (big and small) with Him, in HIS power alone. If I make a decision that isn’t based on people-pleasing but instead on what I feel God leading me to do, that’s a victory and His power in me! If I immediately say a Scripture verse when I start to worry instead of letting it consume my thoughts and spiral out of control, that’s a victory and His power in me! I’ve become so conversational with the Lord through this process, and it’s transforming my life. I’m praying that you begin to see Him as your lifeline; your strength; and your daily Sustainer as you let yourself be totally authentic with your Creator.
O Lord, you have examined my heart
and know everything about me.
2 You know when I sit down or stand up.
You know my thoughts even when I’m far away.
3 You see me when I travel
and when I rest at home.
You know everything I do.
4 You know what I am going to say
even before I say it, Lord.
5 You go before me and follow me.
You place your hand of blessing on my head.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too great for me to understand!
7 I can never escape from your Spirit!
I can never get away from your presence!
8 If I go up to heaven, you are there;
if I go down to the grave,[fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”yes” overflow=”visible”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][a] you are there.
9 If I ride the wings of the morning,
if I dwell by the farthest oceans,
10 even there your hand will guide me,
and your strength will support me.
11 I could ask the darkness to hide me
and the light around me to become night—
12 but even in darkness I cannot hide from you.
To you the night shines as bright as day.
Darkness and light are the same to you.
13 You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body
and knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!
Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.
15 You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion,
as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.
16 You saw me before I was born.
Every day of my life was recorded in your book.
Every moment was laid out
before a single day had passed.
17 How precious are your thoughts about me,[b] O God.
They cannot be numbered!
18 I can’t even count them;
they outnumber the grains of sand!
And when I wake up,
you are still with me!
23 Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
24 Point out anything in me that offends you,
and lead me along the path of everlasting life.