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Judy Lair is a licensed counselor and owner of Counselorplace Christian Counseling. She is the author of “From the Other Side of the Couch: A Biblical Counselor’s Guide to Relational Living.” Judy’s personal struggles with fear led her through the valley of hurt and sorrow. She now embraces a joy-filled life grounded in God’s truth and freedom in Christ. Judy uses her professional counseling expertise to tell stories that help people find healing and freedom. Her vulnerable, godly approach helps people find courage to move from Fear to Freedom. For more information or speaking requests, email JudyLair@counselorplace.com or sign up for blog posts at http://judylair.blogspot.com

 “Freedom is attainable. Trust me, I’ve been on the anxiety side, gone through the Valley of the Shadow of Death, and now I’m praising God, eating at the banqueting table, and helping others make the same journey. Whether you find yourself stuck in anxiety, disappointment, grief, or confusion, your heart can be set free.” Judy Lair, “From the Other Side of the Couch.”

Monday, July 27, 2015

Faith Calms Anxiety Storms

Luke 8 tells us the account of Jesus falling asleep in a boat as his disciples sailed across the Sea of Galilee. A storm came up and the boat was in danger of being swamped by water. As the disciples looked at the waves, fear and anxiety climbed and their ability to see truth decreased. Panicked, the disciples woke Jesus up declaring they were on the verge of drowning. Jesus did an assessment and calmly rebuked the storm. He then asked the disciples, “Where is your faith?”

I don’t think he was chastising them for having worry and fear, because those are human traits we all share. I believe he was calling attention to the same fearful response we all utilize--relying on our own resources. These guys had been fishermen all their lives. They’d been through countless storms on this body of water. The wind, rain, and waves must have been extremely outrageous for these strong, capable men to fear for their lives and ask for help.

Faith is about a person. The disciples tried to handle the difficult circumstances in their own strength, only calling on Jesus once they came to the end of their human abilities to deal with the circumstances. God doesn’t always promise to immediately rebuke the anxiety storms in our life, but he does promise to give us strength and truth when we bring him into the situation.

I believe we’re created to reach out to God and other safe people to give us truth to use as an anchor in the midst of our anxiety storms. We see Peter’s growth in understanding Jesus’ message when he later walked on water towards Jesus. This time his initial response to an anxiety-producing event was to move forward toward Jesus, only sinking when he focused on his fear.

Holding onto truth when emotions are on high alert is hugely daunting. When panic sets in, we automatically equate feeling with truth, believing “If I feel this much fear about something, then my worry must be true. If my worry is true, then I absolutely, must, always do whatever relieves the anxiety.” Truth cannot enter into this equation. When we separate truth from God’s heart, we do not have the courage and emotional energy to withstand the anxiety storm.

Practice moving toward God in the middle of your anxiety storms. By an act of your will, declare your faith in his heart for you and trust in his ability to bring you through the storm.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Biblical Lessons from the Birds

Daisy #10 looks similar to my 9 prior paraketes. Caribbean blue body flanked by yellow and white wings. Soft yellow face with dark blue patches on each cheek. Sometimes she puffs up, her body expanding into a fluffy balloon. Daisy’s chirping brightens my heart.

I find it fascinating to watch how she spends her day. Initially I bought the same toys and treats my other birds enjoyed, but Daisy #10 ignored them all except one. She’s obsessed with a small, pink mirror. The majority of her day consists of Daisy talking and singing to herself in the mirror. She’ll bob her head and move her body like she’s doing an avian hip hop routine. Then she’ll look out the window and talk to the world, introducing herself and sharing the insights God’s given her.

Daisy never appears to have a worry in the world. She trusts I’ll remember to provide her with food and water. When I come in the front door, she generally responds with a chirp to my greeting. I love her unconditional, vulnerable trust in my care for her—and wish I could have that same trust in my heavenly Father!

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?” Matt. 6:25-27 NIV

I imagine some folks in the crowd hearing these words scoffed, “This Jesus knows nothing about the hardships in my life!” Worrying about obtaining basic food, clothes, and shelter has been a daily reality since leaving the Garden of Eden. Just as the Jewish nation mistakenly thought God was sending the Messiah to overthrow the Romans and relieve their oppression, we too expect God’s love to be shown primarily by fixing our circumstances.

Worrying is a fleshly human trait not shared by birds and animals. “How do I keep from worrying in the midst of legit concerns?” These verses say the key is to remind ourselves God has declared us valuable. We are his precious children, glorious bride, apple of his eye. God will never leave us and always keeps us under his wing.

My value to God goes beyond my present circumstances. This is a really hard concept for human beings to grasp. We’re always intent on having more control over our lives so we can feel safe by making our own choices. But that didn’t work out so good for Adam and Eve.

This week I looked at how many counseling sessions I had on my calendar. I’ve got a minimum number of clients I need to see each week to keep financially afloat. I was two sessions short and the worry started. “Maybe I should kick up the advertising or do a seminar or, or, or….” I’ve learned to take those thoughts captive by confessing my self-protective worries to the Lord. By the end of the day I’d booked 5 new clients. God was clearly reminding me to trust like Daisy.

Not every worry you and I have will be eliminated so quickly. I’ve spent years intentionally practicing trusting God in small areas, learning how to wait on the Lord with less worry when I encounter big concerns. Watch the birds. Use them as a daily reminder of the heavenly Father’s love and care for you.