Since we met over a decade ago, sharing a love for words and Jesus, I have been inspired  by  my  soul-sister’s kindness and beautiful  heart of encouragement. She is a phenomenal writer because that’s the kind of person she is–writing out of the depth of character and passion and true beauty.  I once held Bonnie Gray’s hand, praying for God’s words to flow fearlessly through her in her first book. So, it is with great joy I invite my beloved friend to share her deep wisdom and life-giving practices learned on her journey to heal from anxiety to help us find our joy with God’s peace. A trusted Soul Care guide to many, her newest fourth book, Breathe: 21 Days to Stress Less and Transform Chaos to Calm, is maybe what we all need to restore calm to our emotions and our bodies in a world longing for beauty and rest. It’s a grace to welcome Bonnie to the farm’s table today…

Guest Post by Bonnie Gray

During one of the happiest chapters of my life, I suddenly started having panic attacks and debilitating insomnia. I was happily married with two young boys, had an optimistic view of life, loved God, and was part of a strong community. Yet the panic attacks came. They appeared completely out of the blue, and I didn’t know why.

As I discovered God’s view on healing, I realized my hardship wasn’t caused by flawed faith.

When I did try to share about my struggles, I was often told I wasn’t praying enough or wasn’t applying the Bible correctly. Speaking up about my emotional pain was like running into a wall.

But mental health issues happen to everyday people—even to believers who are strong in faith and have friends. I know because it happened to me.

Unfortunately, some Christians made me feel ashamed about my emotional struggles.

But as I discovered God’s view on healing, I realized my hardship wasn’t caused by flawed faith. It was others’ views toward mental health and faith that were incorrect.

Still, I didn’t want anyone to think I was broken, so I kept quiet and prayed it would all go away.

But God wanted to heal me, not shame me.

My therapist Dr. P, who specializes in PTSD, explained that a soldier doesn’t experience trauma when he is brave and fighting on the battlefield. But when the soldier finally returns home, he can face what was
too difficult to process at the time.

God wanted to heal me, not shame me.

The panic attacks weren’t coming because my faith was faulty, but because God loved me and it was time to heal from the past.

This is actually God’s design to protect us when hurt, fear, and loss are too overwhelming to comprehend. Our healthy nervous systems automatically shield us in the moment, compartmentalizing pain, so we can get through hard things… temporarily.

But I was confused. I had never experienced physical abuse or anything as horrifying as combat.

What Dr. P said next stopped me in my tracks: “Did you know emotional abuse and verbal abuse have the same impact as physical abuse? Emotional wounds need healing too.”

Feeling emotionally broken is not a sign that your faith is weak. In fact, healing your heart may be the most powerful act of faith that God is calling you to today.

The panic attacks weren’t coming because my faith was faulty, but because God loved me and it was time to heal from the past.

To encourage you, here are three myths and truths that transformed my journey of healing into beauty and meaning:

1. Myth: Jesus commanded us, “Do not worry.” If you worry, you are sinning.
Truth: Jesus was encouraging us not to worry so much about money.

In Matthew 6:25, Jesus was not issuing a command that makes worry an act of sin when he said, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry.” Jesus was giving us the encouragement not to worry because God will provide for us, like the birds of the air and flowers in the field. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others (2 Corinthians 1:3-4 NLT).

2. Myth: Trust God and you’ll have peace and joy. If you don’t have peace or joy, then you’re not trusting God enough.
Truth: Emotional honesty is an intimate act of trusting God with your real self, instead of hiding how you feel or trying to do or be more.

Notice Jesus doesn’t say, “Come to me strong, cheerful, calm, and untroubled.” It’s the opposite. We’re invited to come to him weary—whether confused, numb, anxious, angry, or stressed. Jesus tells us to simply come, just as we are. Imperfectly his. 

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28 (ESV)

3. Myth: If you read God’s Word more, pray more, praise more, give thanks more, and rejoice more, you will have peace that surpasses all understanding.
Truth: Faith is not emotional amnesia.

Faith gives us courage to face the brokenness of life and heal from the losses we’ve suffered. Jesus himself obeyed, prayed, praised, and gave thanks perfectly. Yet he suffered emotional trauma, overwhelmed by impending physical and emotional abuse, abandonment, and betrayal. He said, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death.” Mark 14:34 (NIV)

You matter to God, and how you feel matters to God.

Breath Prayer: Cast Your Cares

Jesus tenderly whispers, You are worthy of peace and joy. You are worth taking care of. I will take care of you.

One practical way to calm anxiety is to breathe in God’s love and breathe out your worries to Him using this soul care tip: Intentionally write down God’s promises from Scripture. His Word is a lamp to our feet and a light on our path. (Psalm 119:105)

Then use Scripture to pray a “breathe prayer,” a simple way to pray using the natural rhythm of your breathing and God’s Word. Breathe prayers will oxygenate your soul with God’s peace and restore calm. Hand over your problems to Jesus as you pray this breath prayer from 1 Peter 5:7: “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”

Inhale: I cast all my cares upon you.
Exhale: Because you care for me.

With each breath you take, name each worry to release it to God in prayer.

Be Mindful When You Worry: God Cares for You

Today, when you feel anxious and worried, stop and breathe. 
Jesus tenderly whispers, You are worthy of peace and joy. You are worth taking care of. I will take care of you.

In Jeremiah 31:3, God says,“I have loved you with an everlasting love.” Especially when you’ve been hurt, He wants to take care of you with His powerful, healing presence.

Moving by faith with Jesus toward wellness is unique to each woman. For some, healing with Jesus means being more honest when we pray and receiving God’s comfort instead of hiding our emotions.

Healing may involve asking Jesus to give you courage to draw healthy boundaries in toxic relationships so you can flourish instead of living in constant stress and fear.

Healing with Jesus also includes breaking the code of silence. When we share with faith-filled women for support, encouragement and prayer, our hearts heal. And if you, like me, have suffered emotional trauma or loss, God can give you strength and wisdom to investigate and heal your wounds with the help of a Christian therapist or counselor.

God’s Word will give you strength to heal, with His hand holding yours.
“The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” (Psalm 34:18, NIV)

Let God love you. You are beloved.
Jesus, please give me courage to take steps to heal today. Thank You for loving me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Bonnie Gray is a Soul Care coach, author of four books, and host of The Breathe Podcast, guiding women to flourish in wellness using soul care, Bible Study, and prayer. She and her husband live in Silicon Valley, cultivating a counter-cultural lifestyle of rest and faith, raising teenage sons where hikes, waffles, and friends create an stress-resilient family.

How do you break free from stress, worry, and anxiety? Bonnie Gray’s Breathe: 21 Days to Stress Less & Transform Chaos to Calm teaches powerful life-giving practices using scientific and scripture-based methods to help you stress less, care for yourself, and create new wellness habits and rhythms of rest.

Filled with 21 beautiful Breath Prayers, discover soul-filling applications in Breathe for refreshing your spirit with God’s loving words of affirmation, releasing the stress that has been keeping you stuck, and restoring peace and joy to your body and emotions. Start your wellness journey to fully relax in your loving Savior’s embrace in daily rhythms of rest. Whatever your circumstances, it’s never too late to heal your heart.

[ Our humble thanks to Harvest House Publishers for their partnership in today’s devotional. ]

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