By Dr. Brenda Neyens
At King of Kings, we envision a warm and welcoming community where people listen, care, and have a genuine interest in each other. Approximately 3 years ago, I sensed our Lord giving me a new and then expanded vision in ministry: to help individuals struggling with anxiety. This ministry would be called Unlocked. Unlocked is a ministry offered through The Core at King of Kings Church.
While I could build a case, by the grace of God, that Unlocked strikes a chord in all four of our core values at King of Kings, I will focus on the value of being authentic. In Unlocked, we don’t hide or pretend.
1 Peter 5:7 is a go to verse on the topic of anxiety: Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you. Yes, this is an imperative. In other words, an important and crucial thing to do. We are called to cast our anxiety on Him, why? Because He cares about us. It does not say to cast our anxiety on Him to get Jesus to care about us, or to get anything for that matter. It is because He cares, that we can turn to Him. Of further note, it says to cast all your anxiety on Him. It does not say, “If you have any anxiety” cast it on Him. He already knows that we will experience anxiety.
Therefore, and in line with being authentic, the Unlocked Team approaches the topic of anxiety as a real issue for everyone. In a posture of humility, we take a vulnerable stance on the universal struggle called anxiety. We are continuously learning approaches in which social sciences allow us to apply biblical principles. We are willing to boldly, even outrageously, stand in the gap for others and model spiritual exercises designed to experience Jesus’ strength in our places of weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9). We boast in Jesus and His tender approach to our struggles.
~I share my life with others ~
Approximately 10 years ago, I had a horrible experience with anxiety. I had just had a thyroidectomy after my diagnosis of thyroid cancer. As part of my medical plan, I had to allow my thyroid levels in my body to drop to an almost undetectable level in order to undergo radioactive iodine treatment. This was extremely uncomfortable as I watched my energy drop to an unimaginable level for me. I was sleeping for almost 16 hours a day. Keep in mind, one of my nicknames is “Tigger,” because I’m such an energetic person. This was especially challenging.
At the time, little did I know that the real hard part was still ahead. After surgery, I was put on a medication called Synthroid to replace the function of my now-missing thyroid.
As I recall, I believe after 2 doses of Synthroid, I was feeling the effects of the medication. I had a racing pulse, a racing mind with bizarre thoughts that I could not contain, and I was unable to calm down to go to sleep. Unfortunately, I was stubborn and wanted to get through this on my own (enter pride) and I waited 5 days before calling my doctor. But once I did, I was placed on a very small dose of anti-anxiety medication for the next 14 days. Eventually, my life returned to normal. It would be a new normal. I have to be more mindful of utilizing anxiety reducing self-care strategies alongside my devotional practices.
Why do I share this? I needed a lot of help with my anxiety. I required people checking in on me. My prayer partners were on overtime. I needed medical management.
This experience reinforced something I already knew: I can neither stare down nor talk down a high level of anxiety on my own. I need Jesus, and I need His provision through medical care and a community of people to help me.
I love working in care ministries at King of Kings Church. We get the privilege of expressing the love of Jesus to another person. We get to receive and give care. Our vulnerability is not something we hide, but rather, it offers us an authentic journey to give to others.
About the author: Dr. Brenda Neyens is the Spiritual Formation Director and a Licensed Professional Counselor at King of Kings Church.