God and Sexual Assault

Dealing with Anxiety

Trauma response or worry?

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Phil. 4:6-7

I used to get very frustrated with the verses in the Bible that told me not to worry. I read them thinking they don’t understand my anxiety. What I have discovered it that is partially true.

There is worry and there is anxiety. While many will define anxiety as worry – there is something to consider. God made our brains with a “smoke detector”. It’s called the amygdala and it sends us into fight or flight responses when we are in danger.

This danger can be real or perceived. For example, if something reminds you of a trauma, then that could “trigger” you and cause you to experience anxiety. I don’t believe this anxiety is a sin and not trusting God because this is your bodies way of responding.

Unfortunately, in our sinful world we experience pain and trauma and that sends the amygdala into overdrive more often than needed. This was not God’s intent when He created us. It is like the fact that God created your sexual organs for pleasure in marriage. That does not change the fact that when someone abuses those for their own pleasure and sins against you that the feelings your body has are a sin.

The sin is what is being done to you. The same is true with your anxiety response to real or perceived (flashbacks or reminders of trauma.) You’re not making it up – your body believes it is in danger again.

So, when you come across Philippians 4:6-7 remember that the worry and anxiousness mentioned is our sinful need for control, and not the trauma response anxiety. The verses reference our human need to worry when it is God’s to take. This is not anxiety brought on by trauma.

Keep processing your trauma and working through it piece by piece, and one step at a time. One day your trauma induced anxiety will lesson and you will feel that freedom and perfect peace God intends for you.

© 2021 Susan M. Clabaugh. All Rights Reserved.

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