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My Gateway Away From Anxiety

I heard Pastor Steven Furtick say it in a way that I didn’t know how to articulate. And it was so simple. He said, “Gratitude is the gateway to joy.” 

I knew this from experience. Abiding in the spirit of gratitude gave my life immense value. I had gone through a very insecure and anxiety ridden time in my life when I learned and experienced this. Before this lesson, anxiety’s chains wouldn’t let me go. I couldn’t breath, sleep or focus. Study after study will tell you that anxiety is detrimental to our mental and emotional health. And that leads to poor performance in school and less productivity at work, which affects our livelihoods. And ultimately our relationships suffer when we can't get out from under the crippling pressure of anxiety.

My teenage years were full of anxiety for a variety of reasons but after surrendering to Jesus in my 20s, I didn’t experience anxiety at nearly the same levels as I had only years before. And then boom, I step into relationships and here comes anxiety. I had not yet experienced security and true trust in a romantic relationship. So here comes anxiety coming around the mountain to give me more grief than I could handle. 

I knew the Lord. I trusted in the Lord. But I didn’t know how to be delivered from anxiety. Where was this peace that surpasses all understanding (Philippians 4:7) that I had been praying about? I decided to see what one of my favorite Jesus loving ladies said about anxiety. I already knew what the Bible said, but how was I supposed to apply what I believed to my life? I decided to buy Joyce Meyer’s The Mind Connection book, because as Christians, we aren’t battling flesh but spiritual warfare and principalities (Ephesians 6:12). 

But there was another book that was recommended along with Meyer’s, Max Lucado’s book Anxious for Nothing. It was there that I really learned about the power of gratitude and practiced it immediately. I instantly felt a weight, this anxiety that had been bullying me  and pressing on me for months on end, lifted. For the first time in a long time, anxiety began to dissipate. Focusing on all that God had done for me, one by one, sitting with myself and just thanking him, got rid of my anxiety and brought me a joy I had never felt. You see happiness is fleeting and can’t hold a candle to joy because joy isn’t based on circumstances. It’s lasting. 

I had plenty of obstacles or mountains in my way before I learned about the power of gratitude. Anxiety hadn’t just come around the mountain, it became one of my mountains. But God…...when you invite God into your life, he will turn everything around for your good. What the enemy means for evil, God intends it for your good (Genesis 50:20).

So instead of continuing to allow this mountain to stand in my way, God instructs me to speak it, and as I long as I believe it’ll be moved out of my way (Mark 11:23). Even with faith as small as the size of a mustard seed (Matthew 17:20), it’ll have no choice but to move by the power and authority of the Holy Spirit that lives inside of me. I learned that as long as we keep our eyes on Jesus, as long as our focus turns from our circumstances to God, you get delivered. And you get your joy back. Gratitude, it takes the focus off of you and onto the one who’s always loved you and created you for beautiful things. God loves when we praise and worship him and gratitude is a form of praise and worship. Life can be dark and scary, and those moments bring on anxiety. If you want to be delivered and free from it, and you want your joy back, try on gratitude. It leads you to one place and that place is joy.