So many people struggle to manage anxiety, and it can feel so debilitating. As Christian women, we know we are called to be brave, but anxiety often holds us back from what God has called us to do. In today’s conversation with Amy Debrucque, we discuss how to take courage and release fear so we can live boldly for God despite struggling with anxiety.
WHAT YOU'LL LEARN:
- [3:18] Amy’s work with women around bravery and courage
- [7:55] The connection between bravery and surrender
- [8:39] Amy’s journey of releasing fear and taking courage in order to manage anxiety
- [11:23] What keeps us stuck in anxiety
- [14:48] How the desire to stay in our comfort zone keeps us from taking courage
- [23:22] How vulnerability is actually bravery
- [28:04] God’s calling that required Amy to take courage, release fear, and try something uncomfortable
- [35:11] Refining expectations to manage anxiety
- [38:00] Letting our children gain wisdom and take courage in their own timing
- [42:05] Where to start when it comes to battling anxiety and stepping into God’s calling
- [45:55] Getting to the root causes of fear and anxiety
[3:18] Amy’s work with women around bravery and courage
Podcasting, writing, and sharing vulnerably with the world was never on Amy’s radar. God had a different plan, and she often laughs at how many signs and signals He had to throw her way in order to get her attention. She was diagnosed with cancer ten years ago, and in her mid-twenties her firstborn son and oldest brother passed away within 16 days of each other. Leading up to her cancer diagnosis, her anxiety had spiraled into something she couldn’t control. Because she is somebody who likes to be in control, that was a struggle for her. Amy prolonged her anxiety because she was so resistant to God’s hand in helping her. She really identified with being strong, and thought she should be able to handle everything even though she had no problem helping other women with their hurt and grief.
Amy continued to do everything that she thought was right in order to fix herself. God was along for the ride, but He was kind of in the back seat. Amy felt like she was driving and navigating well, but she was still experiencing a lot of anxiety that she could not handle. When she was diagnosed with cancer, it forced her to make a choice. She let God take over. She surrendered to Him, and felt His deep calling for her.
If you are reading this and you are experiencing anxiety, you know that it steals the joy from your everyday life. Amy recalls that she wasn’t really living. Her podcast, Life on Purpose, was birthed out of the idea that she started doing this on purpose. She made a choice to live for God’s purpose, instead of just going through the motions. For years, she was in survivor mode. If you saw her on the street, you wouldn’t have known. She refers to herself as “a master of saving face”, but the reality was that she was just getting from one day to the next.
[7:55] The connection between bravery and surrender
We tell ourselves that if we give up, we are weak. If we give up, we are not brave. In fact, it’s just the opposite. The brave thing is to take a leap of faith without knowing what the end result will be. To be brave is to trust that God has it covered.
[8:39] Amy’s journey of releasing fear and taking courage in order to manage anxiety
Amy shares that it is a daily commitment to surrender to God. This is a practice that she does every day. Now, when a worry comes up, Amy tries to break it down a little bit more. When you’re constantly spinning, you don’t really have the ability to do that. If you allow yourself, however, to take a pause and think about the root of the worry, you are better able to manage anxiety. Breaking it down can alleviate some of the power that anxiety has.
From there, Amy can move past her anxiety and take the next step. Identifying the root – whether it is insecurity, fear, or concern – helps her to move on to the next step.
[11:23] What keeps us stuck in anxiety
For Amy, it was the fear of the unknown – good or bad. She was able to identify that her anxiety was not productive, and she knew there was a better way to manage it. At the end of the day, it was just an overwhelming feeling of worry about the outcome not going the way she wanted or the way she thought things should go. She shares the idea that, “Fear is normal, but courage does get the final say.” It is a matter of figuring out how to let go of that fear and live with courage.
Amy observes that anxiety and fear were one and the same for her. It may have started with her health fears, as she lost two people she really cared about at a young age. It then became a part of her, and she became fearful in general. It kept her stuck in anxiety, even though she thought she knew better. Amy believes fear is the sticking point for a lot of people.
[14:48] How the desire to stay in our comfort zone keeps us from taking courage
When asked about how we get in our own way when it comes to managing anxiety, Amy shared her personal experience with wanting to stay in her comfort zone. Especially with the pandemic, we have all become comfortable. At the end of the day, Amy sees it as a matter of deciding what is best for us.
Amy co-wrote a book with her daughter, who is in her early twenties. She has the same tendencies, so although she did not experience the same grief she still had anxiety of her own. It was an incredible process for Amy to realize that we don’t just age out of these things. They are also both introverted, so getting out of their comfort zones is especially difficult. While it is still important for introverts to get out of their comfort zones, Amy wants to acknowledge that it is a hard thing for some people.
If we stay in our comfort zones and don’t expand beyond that, it will hold us back in the long run. Once we expand, it gives us the permission and the courage to get out of our own way and try new things. It can be frightening to shake things up and to feel like we are losing control. We can get a false sense of security by falling back on past trauma, and God wants to show us full safety. He wants to show us what it means to be fully content and to let Him take over. It can be scary, but when we understand and trust in God, it becomes easier.
Amy also adds that when we take that brave step, we gain and grow no matter what. Even if it is a complete disaster and doesn’t turn out how we planned, taking that step shows our obedience. We grow in those uncomfortable, awkward moments. The more we take those brave steps and show our vulnerabilities, the more we will grow. Amy shares that, years later, she is connecting with so many women, gaining new perspectives, and learning constantly.
When she first started writing and podcasting, she was worried about people rejecting her work. The reality, however, was that it wasn’t about her at that point. She was being obedient to what God wanted her to do. Sometimes what we need in life isn’t exactly what we would pray for, but God knows what we need. That is when we need to lean into Him.
[23:22] How vulnerability is actually bravery
Amy views vulnerability differently than she did when she was younger. She always saw herself as someone who was transparent. She could talk about her experiences easily, but she didn’t really get vulnerable. Once she was able to surrender and trust God, she became more vulnerable. Once she began doing it, she was able to see the difference it was making not only in her life, but in the lives of others. Amy’s whole perspective changed and shifted. Building an audience can become an idol as well, and Amy has to remind herself why God put her here.
[28:04] God’s calling that required Amy to take courage, release fear, and try something uncomfortable
Because of COVID, Amy had not been able to do in-person speaking engagements. When she finally had her first speaking engagement, she thought she would be fine because she had done remote speaking engagements and she had shared parts of her story on her podcast. When she started getting anxiety about it, she could feel herself spiraling a bit. She had to go back through her process. She knew sharing this message was something that God was laying on her heart to do, and she was fine after she did it. Just knowing that she was brave enough to do that, and having others acknowledge the impact, was validating.
When Amy gets worked up and nervous about certain things, she reminds herself of the importance of being obedient. It goes back to trusting God, and doing what feels right. If we remain stagnant, we don’t grow.
For years, pride was an idol for Amy. She was unsure about sharing her story, because she didn’t know how people would respond. When we think about ourselves and how we come across, we are not putting our trust in God. If we can take the time to really dig in and step into courage, we can manage anxiety and move forward. It could be the smallest thing, like shutting your social media off for an hour every night. When we see changes in ourselves, it encourages us to peel away the layers and see what else we can tackle.
[35:11] Refining expectations to manage anxiety
Amy shares that she has gone through a long process of refining expectations. Other people and experiences have smoothed out her rough edges. She sees how we sabotage ourselves accidentally by overthinking and setting unrealistic expectations for ourselves. If we focus too much on how something should look or what we should be doing, we might reject it. We might think it’s not worth doing, and it makes it seem scarier.
With age, Amy says that she has stopped caring as much about what others think or about how things should be done. She cares less about pleasing worldly expectations, and if she can give her kids a leg up on that 20 years earlier, then that would be a true gift.
[38:00] Letting our children gain wisdom and take courage in their own timing
We certainly do not want our children to get hung up on anxiety longer than they need to, and it would be great if they could pick up some of these practices to take courage and release fear in order to manage anxiety. At the same time, however, Amy acknowledges that our children do have to fall on their faces. They have to make poor decisions, just like they have to make good decisions.
Amy says that she waited until she had some major tragedies in her life to make the shift into working on her faith. We can only carry our children so far, and as they become adults it is their responsibility to become more obedient and to step into their courage.
[42:05] Where to start when it comes to battling anxiety and stepping into God’s calling
Amy encourages us to really take the time to pause, and to pay attention when our minds are spinning in anxiety. If we can use the space to really reflect and break down what the fear is and why it is happening, that is huge. It chips away at the power it has over our lives and the control the anxiety has. Amy shares that before she leaned into this process, she thought she was doing the right things. She was praying. She did devotions. She even took medication for her anxiety. She never really addressed her fears and why she was having them, and dealing with these things head on made the biggest difference for her.
[45:55] Getting to the root causes of fear and anxiety
If we operate from our fear-inducing beliefs and thoughts spinning around in our heads, that will affect how we respond to stress and anxiety. Working on these things in our minds really gets to the root of it. We talked a lot with Amy today about addressing the root of fear, and we work on that extensively in the Christian Mindset Makeover as well.
Fear causes us to be in a different state of chaos and feeling overwhelmed. Working through these issues on a deeper level can create freedom from our stressful thoughts. Anxiety will come, but we can manage it with so much more grace when we lean into our trust in God. This is the foundation of confidence.
If you want to work through this in a comprehensive way, with a group of other ladies going through step-by-step exercises and a curriculum-based approach, that is what the Christian Mindset Makeover is. I would love to have you in this course that’s a hybrid of on-demand teaching and live support!
You can learn more about how the power of our thoughts dictates the power of our actions in a free workshop that I have called How to Transform Your Life by Transforming Your Thoughts. You're going to get some very practical information in there about how to debunk those myths about getting through to the root of fear. It’s a very practical three-step approach that I use to manage fear, anxiety, and worry in the moment. So if nothing else, that's a fabulous thing to get out of this free workshop. And then at the end of that, we talk about the next step to take if you are wanting to grow in these areas is through the Christian Mindset Makeover.
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3 Steps to Freedom from Anxiety Based on Brain Science + the Bible
Do you struggle with worry and anxiety? You’re not alone—Anxiety is arguably the #1 mental health issue today, even for Christians.
As a former anxiety sufferer (and a NeuroCoach that’s worked with 100s of women) I’ve learned that we need practical mindset TOOLS (based on both brain science and God’s word) to get His calming TRUTH into our thoughts.
That’s why I host my FREE anxiety workshop: 3 Steps to Freedom from Anxiety Based on Brain Science + the Bible… and you’re invited to join me!