Milk and Honey Magazine advice to love and help a friend or family member with anxiety. Love them and serve like Jesus!

Turning Anxiety Into A Blessing

Aimee Lojeski

As I was growing up, the one thing that stayed consistent in my journey with anxiety is that fellow Christians constantly reminded me fear wasn’t from God.

II Timothy 1:17 confirms this, saying, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.”  This always left me with the problem of trying to fix myself because if fear wasn’t from God, then obviously I must be doing something wrong. I spent so much time being anxious about having anxiety because I was worried about what people would think or say until I learned something else: God has not given us a spirt of fear, but He also doesn’t want us to live in shame, either. (Romans 8 says “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus…”).

I think we make this big mistake by thinking that we have to be perfect, say the right things, be happy all the time, and avoid any negative feelings as Christians. I wish life worked that way. I wish I felt happy all of the time. I wish I never felt anxious or depressed. I wish that I jumped for joy all of the time… but then again, I don’t.

I don’t believe God looks at me and sees this broken Christian who can’t stop worrying. I believe He looks at me and sees my strength. He sees me putting one foot in front of the other and sees me overcoming things in spite of my anxiety. He sees me praising Him and loving Him in spite of my very imperfect life and I believe He’s pleased with me.

See, I may have anxiety, but I never let that determine how I feel about God. I never stop and think He made a mistake when making me because I suffer from a mental illness. I don’t believe He loves me any less because He made me this way.

I’ve learned so much about empathy, compassion, and love for other people because of what I’ve gone through in life. I’ve learned how to help people who are struggling with mental illness because I walk this road every day. People may cope or deal with their mental illness in different ways, but when all is said and done, we all want to feel accepted and loved.

 • Removing the condemnation

If there is no condemnation for those in Christ, we need to stop throwing stones. As I said above, I’ve been shamed a lot for my anxiety. I’ve been told I just need to have more faith, or pray more. I’ve been told I’m a sinner because of it. All of these stones thrown at me left me broken, and left me with feelings of not being worthy of God’s love – His awesome, unconditional, vast love. It took scripture, and friends that live out Proverbs 17:17, reminding me that God isn’t sitting up on his throne judging me. If not for these friends, the shame and guilt from not being able to get rid of the anxiety would have eaten me alive. I continue to seek them out when I start to question my worth in His eyes even as an adult, and they continue to speak life into me as I need it.

We, as people, but especially Christians, need to spend more time speaking truth, positivity, and life into others, rather than condemnation. There is a time and a place for calling out friends and family when they're not living a life pleasing to God, but I suggest we pray for guidance and grace before going to someone because we are all sinners and none of us deserve God’s grace, yet he gives it freely. Shaming someone can be very damaging. It’s even worse when it’s something someone has very little control over. So, if you know someone struggling with any type of mental illness…love them like Jesus does, and accept them for who they are.

• Learning to 'sharpen' vs. 'shame'

Proverbs 27:17 shares how as iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another. Yet, there is a fine line between shaming and sharpening someone. When planning to talk with someone about something I see in their life I don't believe is from God, I pray heavily, first. I bring it to God, because He knows them best. I ask for guidance and for it to be made clear I love them and want what's best for them.

I’ve had a friend speak to me about a situation causing me anxiety, and she basically told me, “You know I love you, but you’re thinking this situation in circles and God already has it worked out, and I believe He had big plans in this area for you, but you have to stop trying to rush his timing and trust Him.”

We then prayed over this together. She came at this situation in love, wanting what was best for me. You know what I did after this? I stopped rushing God to make a move in my life. I was better for it. I felt so much peace in my life when I stopped trying to force my timing. God knows best, His timing is better than mine, and sometimes He will use someone to speak into my (and your!) life. Be ready and willing to accept that, but also be ready to be used by God in this way.

1st Corinthians 13:1-3 says “if I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.”

• Serving someone with anxiety

I want to give you a simple answer on how to help someone whose mind is under war. I want to give you a check list of items, but it’s not that simple as everyone needs something different. Everyone copes in a different way. There isn’t a How-To Guide to helping someone cope with mental illness that will work for everyone. Wouldn’t that be nice, though? Instead, we must just do the best we can and keep on loving them. They’ll get through it and so will you.

I tell people they can pray for me and stand on the front lines for me, because when I have an anxiety attack – it feels like a battle, and prayer is the weapon. I believe in the power of prayer, and I believe God wants us to come to Him with our hurt and pain. He knew this world wouldn’t be easy. He knew we’d have struggles. Just yesterday, I had an anxiety attack and I almost didn’t go to church because I felt like I was too messy in my anxiety to be around other people. I’m okay with bringing my mess to God because, let’s be honest, He’s seen it before, but I like other people to see me as 'together.'

Somehow, I managed to drag myself out the door to make the thirty minute drive. I walked into that building just beaten down by my battle with anxiety. Do you know what I came into, though? People who genuinely care about me and want to see me thriving. I had two people pray over me and then they continued to talk me through what was making me anxious. They never once made me feel bad or wrong for not being okay. That’s what the church should look like. It was like they stood in front of me, even though it was my war. They went to battle in prayer and we all walked away believing for peace. I walked out of that building with hope restored.

I also need people to get me out of my own mind because there are days I feel trapped in there. Distract me. Talk to me about what’s going on in your life. Ask me about something I’m passionate about. Don’t bring up how anxious I look right away. If we’re having a conversation and then you ask me why I look anxious or point out that I seem worried, then it immediately pulls me back into my own thoughts I was trying to ignore. Someone suffering from mental illness may open up to you and they may not. It’s rarely personal. All you can do is be there. Just be present.

Third, what is your person’s love language? Mine is gifts and acts of servitude, along with words of affirmation. I used to feel bad this was my love language because it made me feel selfish – it isn’t, though. I love to show people I’m thinking of them. If that means folding their laundry, or buying them something I know they’d love. It doesn’t have to be a big deal, but something that says I saw this and thought of you. I remember on a bad day when I had honestly just shut down from all of the anxiety waging war on my mind that a friend of mine had wrote a cute note on my Starbucks cup encouraging me. It immediately lifted my mood. She didn’t push me to talk or to not be anxious. She just showed me love in a way that made sense to me and showed me she was there if I needed her.


More than anything though, just be there. A friend once told me she could see I was in a metaphorical boat, and the boat was filling with water because of the holes in it. She said, “I have this bucket, and I want to help. Just let me get in and show me where to start dumping water out.”

Grab your bucket and be willing to dump water out for your person. Whatever that looks like.

Aimee Lojeski lives in Racine, Wisconsin and enjoys spending time with her family, loving Jesus, and serving others.