Week 1: Life in an Anxious World
Coping with anxiety in a healthy way starts with acknowledging it exists. Naming it and naming what causes the anxiety weakens its power! Some common sources of anxiety in teens are culture, technology, academic achievement, competition, self-comparison, pleasing others, and moving. All of these add to the pressure that builds around us and inside us.
When life starts to feel unsteady, we can:
Look Up to God and seek his wisdom through Scripture and other faithful followers of Jesus.
Look Inside by thinking and reflecting on where God is at work inside us
Look Around by to take a good look at our own anxious world so we can make peace and share that peace with others.
The Bible is full of stories of anxious people. It doesn’t take long to think of several. Abraham, Sarah, Moses, Elijah, David, Jeremiah… Jesus’ disciples experienced intense anxiety, too! In Mark 4 and 6, Jesus’ disciples are in a boat in the middle of an intense storm, and they’re afraid they’re going to die. But Jesus? He’s totally calm. And most importantly: he’s with them the whole time. Jesus stays with his disciples through their anxious moments.
Indeed, throughout the Bible God is always with his people through their most anxious moments. And you can count on his presence with us in your anxious moments, too.
Let’s get practical:
Anxiety can be helpful. Think of anxiety like your mind’s alarm system that something is off. It can tell us when we’re not taking care of ourselves, there’s something dangerous about our situation (think: feeling anxious about getting the car with someone who’s been drinking), or there is a harmful false narrative you’ve been led to believe. Of course, we don’t want these alarm systems going off all the time—which can be a real problem!
But we need to learn to listen to our anxiety, and what God might be trying to tell you in your anxious moments.
A way to deal with anxiety:
Ask yourself two questions:
Where is God at work in the midst of my anxiety?
What might God—or anxiety—be trying to tell me?
Breathe in for 3 counts, hold for 3 counts, breathe out for 3 counts, hold for 3 counts.
Use the Daily Replay (aka the Prayer of Examen) on the main youth ministry page to guide your thoughts as you reflect on your anxious moments.
Name all the things giving you anxiety.
Then ask: Where is God at work in the midst of my anxiety? And What might God—or anxiety—be trying to tell me?
Practice talking about anxiety. Find an adult you trust who might be a good person to call on if you ever need someone to talk to. This week, your challenge is to strengthen your relationship with that person and practice talking about how you feel. Find a time to meet with that person for an hour. Remember, this person should be a trusted adult. And be sure to talk with your parents about who you will be meeting with beforehand.
If you’re not sure what to say, try this:
My youth group is learning about how to live a healthy life in an anxious world. We’ve been challenged to build ourselves a circle of people we can talk with if we ever need to. Because you’re that someone I trust, I would like to invite you to be part of my circle. Would you be willing to meet with me this week so I can practice talking about anxiety and pray about it together?