Fear and anxiety are a human condition, but we live in a culture that fosters it and feeds it. Everything from social media which fosters FOMO (Fear of missing out) to our news feeds which sensationalizes all the bad thing that have happened and could happen, foster fear and anxiety. We also know that the world we live in is not safe. So, how do we deal with our anxiety.
I want to use the acrostic S.T.A.A.A.R. – Think of it as a pirate’s star. (get it) We are going to highjack anxiety and give it to God.
S – Stands for Stop.
When you find yourself starting to feel anxious STOP! Don’t try to fix the problem, or the person or the situation. When you are in anxious, you will not have the mind space to think through creative decisions or hear from God.
T- Take a Breath
Breathe deeply. Here you are changing your focus form the problem, and you are letting yourself calm down. Psalm 131:2 says, “But I have calmed and quieted myself.” That is what you are looking to do. You may have to remove yourself from a stress inducing situation for a moment. Take a breath and calm yourself down.
Name what you are feeling. Are you angry, anxious, fearful, hopeless? When you name what you are feeling, you can start to deal with what you are feeling. When all you have is this vague “ickyness” your feelings are harder to deal with.
Some people have been taught that they shouldn’t be anxious or worry. Philippians 4: 6 says “Do no be anxious about anything.” So, what some people do is say is, “I am not anxious, I am concerned.” But your feelings are your feelings. Your feelings are always valid, because they are your feelings. Your feelings are not always truthful – but they are always valid. Accept them for what they are. Deal with reality.
A- Appreciate and Connect to Jesus
You have stopped and calmed yourself down. You have acknowledged and accepted what you are feeling, now it is time to worship. Start to lean into thanking God for what he has done for you. Here is a pro tip. If you can worship God for the things that are in opposition to what you are feeling – that can be a powerful weapon in spiritual warfare. (God I am no in control, but I thank you that you are. Etc.)
As you lean into Jesus and what he has done, as you really start to worship you are going to find yourself in his presence. As you are in his presence and connecting with him you are going to bring the situation to him. Remember when you are doing this, not to take your eyes off him and put them back on the problem. But, asked God what you should be doing about what is going on.
Philippians 4:6–9 (NIV)
6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
You are praying and asking God, but you are doing it in the context of thanksgiving and worship. God has a way of showing you how to respond.
R – Respond.
Respond in the way that God shows you. It may mean surrendering the situation to God. He may give you a strategy to live out. Respond to what he shows you.
Some of you will have to use the S.T.A.A.A.R. tool daily or even a couple of times a day. For others it will only be needed periodically. When you are anxious, you need to bring God into the situation. This gives you a tool to do that. Remember the pirates star when you anxious.
S – Stop
T – Take a Breath
A – Acknowledge
A – Accept
A – Appreciate – and connect
R – Respond.