3 Things Not To Say To Someone Struggling With Anxiety
Some of the most well-intended people have caused me to shake my head with the words that have come out of their mouth. If I'm honest, (and why wouldn't I be?), that well intentioned person has been me before. Below are statements that I have heard people say to someone struggling with anxiety where I immediately wished they would have chosen to remain silent, instead of offering their expertise:
1. "In the Bible, God tells us not to worry, so stop worrying."
Indeed, Jesus does tell his followers to not worry. However, by telling them not to worry, he is assuming that his followers will do what? That's right... worry. The issue is not whether someone will worry or not. You are not a SUPER-CHRISTIAN who is able to somehow never worry. You and I will worry in this life. So the issue is not whether or not we will worry, but the more important issue is how we will respond to our worry? Will we try to be God with our worry or will we give our worry over to God?
2. "You know it's a sin to worry, right? Just ask God to forgive you."
Correction: It is not a sin to worry. The same person who told you that probably also believes that Jesus never sinned once, which I believe to be true as well. However, Jesus himself worried. In fact, he was filled with so much worry and anxiety, he sweat drops of blood. Yet, Jesus did not sin. How could this be? The only solution I can think of is that worry is not a sin. Again, our response to worry is what matters. That same worry that caused Jesus to sweat drops of blood could have caused him to be disobedient to his Father, by causing him not to go to the cross. Praise God this was not the case and Jesus responded to his worry in the best way possible.
3. "It could be worse. Just think about ___________________ (fill in a horrible situation)."
Okay, here's some Counseling 101. Never ever, ever...ever...ever compare someone else's struggle to that of someone else. What if you told your child to stop crying over stubbing their toe, saying, "Oh stop crying, I stubbed my toe on that same chair yesterday!" That would be a ridiculous, right? When we do this to one another, we devalue that person's VERY real struggle, no matter how petty it may seem to us at the moment. In fact, I have learned that if I simply listen and love, that person usually comes around to seeing on their own how "petty" that struggle really is in the comparison to the grand scheme of life.