Go Ahead and Get Your Armor
“The exam will be 5 hours long. I don’t test well, and I’m worried I won’t pass it,” the woman explained. She told me how the anxiety ate at her even though the exam is almost a year away. She would regularly bite the inside of her cheek or her nails. “Do you know anyone who hasn’t passed it?” I asked her. “One friend failed part of it and had to take it again.” I followed up with, “And now, what is she doing?” “Well, she’s teaching now.” I was still curious, “Do you know of others that have failed it? Why do you assume you will? It’s really more likely that you will pass, don’t you think?” She explained with pain on her face, “Well, I have failed at many of the things I’ve tried lately. “
Ahh, her mental block revealed itself. Because of her history of what she considered failures, she began to expect failure in her life despite the fact that she is a bright, capable young woman. No wonder she was anxious about it. I had another question, “Does that message that “you fail at things” line up with what God says about you?” I knew she was a woman of faith and that she had already asked me to coach her on spiritual matters, so I knew she'd appreciate the question. She didn’t verbally answer, but she shook her head no. I could see her wheels turning, then she whispered, “I am a conqueror.” She read my mind, “MORE than a conqueror, actually,” I added. She was thinking of the same verse I was, Romans 8:37, “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.”
I shared with her something I had just read that day, “Faith is an activator and so is fear.” Her fear was creating the very thing she feared. I get why she holds on to fear even when she knows she doesn’t have to. It feels safer for some reason. Faith feels risky. That security we feel when we hide behind fear is a false security, though. Actually, it doesn’t serve us to hold on to that habit. Why not lean into faith since faith is an activator? Then hold on and see what you and the Creator can create.
But, I coached her further. I’m not suggesting you ignore your fear and push it down to muster up a feeling of faith. No, I’m suggesting an action plan. 2 Corinthians 10:5 says, “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”
You can overcome anxiety and fear and lean into faith with this action plan:
Identify the feeling and why you feel it. “I feel anxious because I may fail the test.” (fill in the blanks)
Go further if you need to. “I feel _________ because _________ and if __________ then ____________.”
Compare the belief to what you know of God. Once you’ve identified the belief behind the feeling, consider if it is congruent to what you know of God. You don’t have to know everything, but you do know some things. If you aren’t sure, research it.
Demolish any thought that is not congruent! Don’t cuddle up to it! Entertain it no further.
Take the thought captive and make it obedient. Be transformed by the renewing of your mind by indoctrinating the truth you have been reminded of. Memorize scripture or create an affirmation that moves you and put it on repeat in your mind.
I love the violent intent in the verb ‘demolish’ in the verse, “We demolish arguments and every pretension…” The idea is to destroy the false message. What do we do instead? We nod our heads in agreement because the message fits a narrative about ourselves that we bought into years ago. We have developed a habit of ‘stinking thinking’ because we’ve grown accustomed to the familiar feelings that go with it. We invite it to move in, and we cuddle up to it. In fact, we often turn it into an idol we worship.
“Demolish it,” Paul says. Crush it to pieces and toss it into the shredder. He’s not fooling around here. The verse that comes just before says that this is a war we are in. Ephesians 6:10-18 echos this. We are fighting against forces of “this dark world.” These forces want your mind. This is where the battlefield is. The enemy is using your thoughts to defeat you. Let me encourage you….go to war and fight for your mind. At first you won’t be good at it. But with practice, you will become adept at spotting false messages and demolishing every one. I can't stop hearing the song, "Battlefield" by Jordin Sparks. I know that song is about relationships, but the chorus is going through my head as I'm writing this, "Battlefield, battlefield, battlefield....Better go and get your armor."
Romans 12:2 says, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” The pattern of this world is to worry, fret, and be ruled by fear. It is a cynical pattern that keeps us from joy and locks us in with anxiety. Break the pattern of the world and transform the fear into faith. Let’s stop fooling around with our thinking and take captive every thought to make them obedient to Christ just like Paul instructs us to do in 2 Corinthians. Go ahead and get your armor!