How to Snuff Out Anxiety By Giving Birth to Anticipation
I want control.
There are few times in my life where I have felt more out of control than during birth. The unknowns outweigh the knowns.
I just gave birth to my third child. With the first one, you make this silly little thing called a “birth plan” and then all the planning is ignored as the birth happens. By number three, I thought I’d be past anxiety and need for control, but I found myself grasping for it anyway. Anxiety crept up as the due date neared.
It’s an amazing and scary thing to know that your body knows how to create, sustain, and then birth a human being all on its own. If something goes wrong, I probably had little to do with that. If something goes right, I didn’t do that either. I can impact the process some, but I can’t control it.
Having seen God’s hand throughout life’s circumstances, you’d think I could have relaxed into Him, but I kept trying to tighten the reigns.
Here are three things that helped me snuff out anxiety:
1. Identify the lie:
Although I’m a Christian, deep down I doubt God’s goodness a lot of the time. My desire for control stems from this.
I can find you all the verses that tell you how He’s good. I can even see His goodness in my own life.
However, I also know that His goodness does not always mean that everything is peaches and roses. There is still death, illness, and all the ugly fallen things.
Plus, God has a bigger view and knows that sometimes what looks bad, like Joseph’s brothers selling him to slavers, will eventually be used for good, like saving a whole nation. Even so, I don’t want those “bad” things happening to me or my loved ones.
So, the lie that God isn’t good sits there and whispers it’s ugly thoughts. It’s a dumb lie. A flimsy lie, as all lies are. Yet, lies can knock us down.
I keep confessing my sins and meditating on truth. I’ve been sinking into those verses about His goodness and praying it eradicates the lies.
What lie are you believing about God? It’s at the root of your anxiety.
2. Realize the difference between possible and probable:
When we lose sight of the fact that something may be possible, but not probable, then anxiety will reign. For example, it may be possible that there would be a home invasion at my house, but it’s not probable.
So, I started looking at my fears and writing or talking them out. Once they were out there, the difference between possible and probable became clearer.
Can you see when you are letting possibilities seem more like probabilities? For more on this, listen to Christa Maney on the Mom Struggling Well podcast.
3. Replace anxiety with anticipation:
Rather than focusing on what I can control, which is nothing, I need to focus on God and His control. Trace His hand and anticipate what He has coming next.
Instead of getting wrapped up in expectations of myself or others, I focus on what God is doing.” Cheri Gregory, the Hope Cycle
Every time I felt anxiety taking over, I reminded myself of all the ways I had seen God’s hand in our pregnancy. He had allowed us to get pregnant, we had good prenatal care, and we found a midwife when we decided to change from a hospital to a home birth.
Shifting my focus to anticipation of what God is going to do has been life giving to me. It surrenders me to God, removes my sin of wanting to control things, and reminds me to rely on His true traits, like His goodness.
Where can you see God’s hand in your life? If you focus on His hand and anticipate His continual care, anxiety will be snuffed out.
It was a battle, but it worked. This third baby came, just when he wanted to come, which was in the middle of the night. And, it was all ok. All my anxious thoughts were a waste of energy. My focus on God and how he had led us did give me more peace. Within that also came a surrender from my control to His, so that even if things weren’t ok and God didn’t do as I hoped, I would still stay true to Him (Daniel 3:16-18).
I haven’t conquered this thing. So, I’m still working on tracing His hand and then anticipating what He will do, including me surrendering my expectations and my false idea that I have some control over things anyway.
It’s birthing something better in me though: the truth.