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Bending down to pick up another toy, I feel a little twinge in my side. Huh. I wonder why my side hurts? What organ is mid-back, under my ribs? I think that’s where my kidneys live. Why would my kidney hurt? I do have a nodule on my right kidney. You know, the one they found a couple years ago. The doctor said it was nothing to be concerned about… What if something changed? My yearly ultrasound isn’t until March. Hmm. I bet it’s growing. I bet it’s become something serious. I must have cancer.
So goes the internal dialogue of my anxiety, the parallel track inside my head constantly chugging along beside my ordinary thought life. It’s distracting and unproductive and not limited to medical things.
At the dawn of my thirties, I am finally beginning to recognize this fear train as it leaves the station, or at least shortly after it has left. Recognition doesn’t always stop me from climbing aboard, but being able to identify fear and what produces it has been quite helpful.
In my quest to find strategies to derail my anxiety, I’ve read quite a few books that address the topic. I am in no way qualified to advise about clinical anxiety except to point toward a counselor or medical professional. But if you also suffer from the distracting parallel thought life of fear and worry, let me point you toward four books that have helped me immensely.
She Reads Truth: Holding Tight To Permanent in a World That’s Passing Away by Raechel Myers and Amanda Bible Williams
Raechel Myers and Amanda Bible Williams are co-founders of She Reads Truth, a community of women committed to reading God’s Word every day. Between the two of them, Myers and Williams have walked through some of my most consistent sources of anxiety – loss of a child, loss of a parent, loss of the security from a job. The book, She Reads Truth, is about the circumstances that forced each woman to acknowledge the only thing that is permanent in this temporary home. They share these pieces of their story with inspiring vulnerability, setting a good example of how to approach hardships with grace and strength. Both women have a contagious passion for the Bible and effortlessly reinforce why Scripture memorization is a great strategy for fending off anxiety.
What Women Fear: Walking in Faith That Transforms by Angie Smith
I knew that Angie Smith is a published author and speaker. She has gorgeous red hair and is married to a Christian recording artist. What I didn’t know about Angie is that she was hospitalized as a child for anxiety and continues to battle fear as an adult. It’s really comforting to say “Me, too!” when you are struggling. I said that many times while reading What Women Fear. But she doesn’t let you dwell in the struggle. With transparency and humor, Angie shares her own testimony and the stories of men and women from the Bible who faced fear. Anxiety and worry are real emotions and this book offers hope-filled places to turn when those emotions seem to take over your heart.
Unafraid: Trusting God in an Unsafe World by Susie Davis
I first heard Susie Davis on Jamie Ivey’s Podcast, The Happy Hour. She witnessed her favorite teacher being shot by a fellow student in high school and thereafter was gripped by all sorts of fear. What she shared on the podcast was powerful so I knew her book would be a must-read. It is. The majority of us don’t live through that type of trauma, but the chilling things happening around the world every day could put anyone in the fetal position, wondering where God is in it all. Unafraid doesn’t outline steps or give a formula to feel safe. It does lovingly shift our focus to God and His unquestionable love for His children. The wisdom and personal experience in this book is a liberating gift.
One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are by Ann Voskamp
Anxiety is overwhelming. When you’re faced with big emotions that seem to perpetually suck you down a rabbit hole of doubt and fear, it can be difficult to come up for air, let alone think of a way to fight back. One Thousand Gifts gave me a practical way to fend off encroaching anxiety – gratitude. In her characteristically lyrical style, Voskamp extends an invitation to name God’s gifts. The spiritual discipline of acknowledging what is true, pure, and lovely in our every day and our extraordinary shifts our focus off ourselves and on to God’s amazing grace.
Fear and anxiety affect everyone differently just like each of these books approach the topic from different angles. But I keep returning to the universal truth found in each book and in my own life, that “for every fear, there’s an empty grave, for the risen One has overcome.”
What have you read that has helped with fear and anxiety?
Emily C. Gardner
Here at Club31Women, we recognize that not everyone has the same taste or point of view on books, music, or movies, but we offer these short reviews for your consideration. Our hope is that you will find something new and wonderful on this list of recommended resources!
~ Lisa Jacobson, Club31Women
Emily C. Gardner is a Southern California native transplanted to the Northeast with her youth pastor husband and two sweet kiddos. She's a woman of many enthusiasms, which these days include reading, real food, and running. In her fringe hours, Emily channels her creative energy into curating book flights on her blog and sharing photos of her current read. Connect with Emily on Instagram and Pinterest.