Stop, Drop and Roll – Dousing the Flames of Your Anxiety

by Andy Wood on August 31, 2015

in Ability, Consumers, Five LV Laws, Life Currency, LV Alter-egos, LV Cycle, Pleasers, Principle of Freedom, Protecting Your Investment

Emilie was jealous. Eyes open, staring at the dark ceiling night after night, jealous.

And the focus? Her husband, Chris.

She was jealous of how he could carry an enormous load of stress from his work, simply say a prayer or two at bedtime, and effortlessly fall asleep.

Chris was actually 19th-century pastor Christoph Blumhardt.

One night Emilie couldn’t take it anymore, so she pleaded with her husband, “Tell me your secret!”

He replied: “Is God so powerless that my worrying would help the well-being of our parish?”

Then he added, “There comes a moment each day when we must simply drop what weighs on us and hand it over to God.”

That’s what Paul meant when he encouraged his friends in Philippi:

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:6-7).

Stop, drop and roll, friends. That’s how to put out the fire when you’re burning. Whether the fire is a literal, physical one or flames of anxiety or worry, the solution is similar. Take the things that are creating anxiety (stop), let go of your insistence to control everything (drop), and roll them off on the Lord to carry for you (roll).

Sounds easy enough, if you can be certain where the anxiety is coming from. But what do you do when you’re feeling panicky and don’t know why? How do you drop your anxieties when you can’t identify what’s actually causing them? How to you “let go” of something when you can’t even see what you’re clutching on to in the first place?

Whenever I see a principle like that in scripture – something that creates as many questions as it does solutions – I try to look at the larger context for more clues. Maybe if we can see the earlier context in Paul’s encouragement to the Philippians, we can look for some tell-tale causes of our anxieties. So let’s back up just a bit:

Therefore, my beloved brethren whom I long to see, my joy and crown, in this way stand firm in the Lord, my beloved. I urge Euodia and I urge Syntyche to live in harmony in the Lord. Indeed, true companion, I ask you also to help these women who have shared my struggle in the cause of the gospel, together with Clement also and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life. Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God (Philippians 4:1-6, NASB).

I can see five things that, if I don’t address them, will produce anxiety, or at times even something of a panic attack in me. It’s certainly worth examining.

1. Spiritual Inconsistency

“Stand firm in the Lord,” Paul says. I don’t always do that. Sometimes I’m standing firm in my pride; sometimes in some self-centered ambition. Sometimes I’m standing firm in the stubbornness that I want to control my own life or hang on to some pet sin. And yet, pushing back against those desires is the Holy Spirit Himself, who yearns in me to please my Heavenly Father.

Do you suppose that could create some anxiety?

I think so.

2. Conflict

Euodia and Syntyche were two women in the church who were obviously hard workers.

Hard-headed, too.

And they obviously had a “thang” going on, to the point that Paul had to name them by name.

When people are in unresolved conflict (it doesn’t even have to be our own conflict), it produces great anxiety, especially in church life. Conflicts are inevitable. But Paul cautions that as much as is possible, we should strive to be at peace with all people.

There’s a reason Jesus said that peacemakers are happy (blessed). If you have unresolved conflicts, and you have done everything you can to resolve them (that’s a BIG “if”), then lay it down. God says, “I’ve got this.” So let Him have it.

3. Lack of help or support.

The “true companion” is obviously an individual – maybe a guy named Syzugus. Paul calls him out, too, and in a nice way tells him to get up off his butt and help those two women.

Hey, it’s in the white space between the verses.

When you feel as though you aren’t getting the help you need – when you feel burdened with the responsibility and don’t have the necessary support – you will experience anxiety.

Now… let me hasten to add that sometimes we’re like Elijah in the cave. We think we don’t have any support when we actually do, but just can’t see it yet. But either way, when you’re pulled by responsibility on one hand and a lack of help on the other, you definitely have something to stop, drop, and roll over.

4. Frustrating circumstances

“Rejoice in the Lord always!”

You didn’t just say that.

“Again I say, rejoice.”

You did just say that! Are ya’ kiddin’ me? Do you see all the frustrations I’m slogging through? Do you see all the pain and heartache I carry? Do you see the overwhelming circumstances that never seem to go away?

Exactly.

When people lose their reasons to rejoice, it produces anxiety. Why? Because joy and gratitude are our birthright as believers, regardless of the circumstances. But let’s get real – sometimes life stinks and we can’t seem to fix what makes it stink. And that produces anxiety.

You may not see that because this kind of anxiety doesn’t look like worry. Just remember, anxiety is a much bigger word and can cover anything that pulls you in different directions.

5. Frustrating people

What’s this “gentle spirit” he’s talking about? Does he know the numbskulls I have to deal with? Does he have any clue what it’s like to have a front row seat to the idiot parade? Has he ever been through airport security, or a McDonald’s drive-thru, for crying out loud?

Does he know what it’s like to be stood up, put down, handed over or run through by jerks who call themselves friends?

Actually I think he does. Except maybe for the TSA or McDonald’s issues.

Anytime you find it difficult to be gentle with other people, it produces anxiety. The Holy Spirit in you wants to love them. The inner Fred Flintstone in you wants to vent, vilify, or vanquish your “enemies” – even if they’re three years old.

Stop. Drop. Roll.

 

Remember that whenever we’re feeling anxious, it’s a call back to the presence of God. Something needs to be sorted out. Something may need God’s searchlight turned on it. Something may need to be talked out with trusted others.

But none of it – none of it – was intended for you to carry alone.

Stop where you are.

Drop your hold on whatever is producing those anxieties and…

Roll them over to the Lord’s broad shoulders.

He can handle them all.

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