Our pastor tells us that if we don’t have questions about our faith, we aren’t doing it right.
Good to know I am doing it so right.
I’ve had the same question for the last 6 months: How can I tell the difference between a feeling or word from the Holy Spirit and my run-of-the-mill anxiety? Which feeling do I follow? How do I know, Lord?
I’ve suffered with anxiety for quite some time now. It got really bad after my first daughter was born – I always had tendencies toward overreacting and worrying but when I started having vivid visions of bad things happening to my kid, I knew this was something else entirely.
It’s been 8 years since Olivia was born, and things have definitely gotten better. I still have moments – I’ll be driving down the highway and suddenly be overcome with worries about the cars in other lanes running us off the road, always making sure I have an “escape” route, that kind of thing – but I have been able to get it mostly under control. Prayer has been my saving grace, along with finding my Rhema word and having a few songs that I can play over in my head to center and calm me. I once described anxiety and depression as being like alcoholism – it’s something that runs your life and while you can recover from it, you are never fully cured. You learn to live with it, and deny the temptations, but it’s always there as a part of who you are. (This is how it is for me, anyway.) I’m a recovering anxiety girl, always a work in progress, and always looking for ways to cope with this affliction.
Last year, I asked God to give me the gift of prophecy. I’ve been hearing from the Spirit a lot in the past months and it’s been an amazing influence on my life. It turns out, this gift has been the catalyst in finding ways to cope with my anxiety. But then, I started running into the obstacle of telling the difference between the Holy Spirit and good old fashioned anxiety – an attack from the enemy.
Something I am starting to realize is that anxiety feels different. When I hear from the Spirit, I get a very specific physical reaction; when it’s anxiety I’m just scared. This revelation has been purely through trial and error: I’ve found that when I feel the way I do when the Spirit is getting to me, my intuition, feeling, whatever is founded. There’s a situation or event that is happening or has happened and it brings me clarity and peace once I have discovered it or worked through it (or delivered a word, for example).
Anxiety is from the enemy. Anxiety pulls out all the conversations, events, and bad things in my life and puts them at the forefront of my conscious so I can focus on nothing else. It creates self-doubt and self-loathing. It separates me from the people around me and from my God. It’s pure evil. And when I start to feel the fear and doubt sneak in, I’ve learned that I have the power to send it away in Jesus’ name. So I do. I take a deep breath, tell it it’s not welcome in my life, and send it off.
That is how I know the difference. The Holy Spirit will never just leave because I tell it to. It will nag me until I make a change or share a word or check on a feeling. It is so much stronger than the enemy, and knows me so much better. And it’s not here to make me a slave to fear. It’s here to help set me free. And for that, I am eternally grateful.