Are you on social media? Do you have a Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter account? What about Pinterest? Do you have that account too? If so, how do you feel when you post something that you feel to be totally post worthy and “likeable” and you get nothing? You’ve got 300+ friends and no one thinks what you have to say is interesting, save one? How bout those “selfies”? You post a beautiful selfie and no one likes it. How do you feel? Rejected maybe? Like a loner or a looser even?
As a well adjusted, emotionally mature adult it can be hard to accept that no one finds what you share interesting. I have that feeling sometimes. Sometimes I wonder why I am even on facebook or why am I trying to be a blogger. What’s the point again? Then, I remember that I do not get my personal approval from my blog, Facebook, Instagram or even Pinterest, but from Christ Jesus, my Lord and Savior.
I see the teens all around facebook and wonder how in the world they can handle the rejection of a selfie post with no likes or comments. How does it make them feel? Rejected? Some teens are on their smart phones constantly. They are posting selfies and sending snap chats in an anxious anticipation of a like, comment or return snap. I hear them say, “He opened my chat, so why hasn’t he snapped back?” All their accounts are set up with push notifications so they know the second someone likes a post or sends a comment. They spend all their time waiting for approval.
That’s just one problem with social media and teens. We could talk for hours about all the issues, but I think this is a big one. The anxiety of public approval is already overwhelming for emotionally immature beings. They look for acceptance at home, at school, in sports, in unhealthy relationships and now from around the world. I am sure it’s exhausting and no wonder so many teens are on anxiety medications. They are looking for approval from the whole planet!
The other side of this can be just as difficult to handle. What if no matter what is posted you get pounded with negativity? I see on Facebook how so many bloggers are being attacked by readers who do not agree with their opinion. I think to myself, “Wow, why do these readers feel the need to pound other people?” I understand not agreeing with someone. I understand getting upset in the face of a heated discussion of a sensitive topic, but I am amazed at the level of unwarranted rudeness and attack. It seems there is no room for compromise, or understanding. It’s sad really. Especially, when it’s teenagers being bashed by other teens or even adults, right … on … Facebook! When did it become acceptable to treat people so rudely? It’s just to easy to be cold, rude and unfriendly, just because one can hide behind a screen.
All of this of course will create anxiety in anyone. However, I find it interesting that large numbers of adults and teens are diagnosed with social anxiety like it’s something abnormal. I love this definition from National Institute of Mental Health “Anxiety is a normal reaction to stress and can actually be beneficial in some situations.” Normal? Anxiety is normal. Now to be fair, not everyone handles stress very well. But anxiety is normal.
The CDC defines anxiety as:
“Anxiety disorders are characterized by excessive and unrealistic worry about everyday tasks or events, or may be specific to certain objects or rituals.” “Excessive and Unrealistic”. Worry is normal. We all worry, but anxiety is excessive and unrealistic worry. We definitely don’t need that. lol Life is hard enough, Lord wiling we don’t make it worse on ourselves. God’s word says in Matthew 6:25-27:
Do Not Worry
25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” (Matthew 6:25-27)
The chart below shows 25% of 13-18 year olds suffer from a lifetime of anxiety and 30% of those are female. Now 25% doesn’t seem like much in the face of the whole planet, but in a high school of 500 students?
I think that’s just too many teens suffering from anxiety. Now I know a couple people who suffer from social anxiety. One is an adult and one is a teen. The adult can leave town and be perfectly fine, most of the time. As long as she is no where she will meet someone she knows. The teen is fine among people she doesn’t know either.
When talking with the teen she said she is anxious with people she knows, because she is afraid of what they will think or say of her. I think that’s normal. I think the difference is how one handles the situation. I can walk into a room full of my peers, whom I do, or do not know and feel a level of anxiety. How do I handle that? A couple ways. One, I will try to locate myself in the back of the room. Looking for a chair with few people around, but not so few that I stand out. Second, if #1 isn’t an option, I will square my shoulders, lift my head and walk to first chair I see that is most likely in the “uncomfortable” zone. lol Yes, I am a bit uncomfortable. Yes, I experience a level of anxiety, but I’m not going to let it beat me. I look for the least path of resistants first of course, but I am strong and independent. I will win. I have control over my own thoughts. I can control anxiety, it doesn’t have to control me.
I found an interesting read from the US National Library of Medicine about Social Anxiety Disorder and four environmental factors. Now, I honestly could talk about this subject all day long, but I am sure it would bore you after awhile. I linked the article for you to read for yourself if you like, here. However, I do want to list the 4 factors from the article. They are parenting, adverse life events, societal and cultural factors, and gender roles.
As parents we have a job to do when raising emotionally healthy, stable children. If we can help them to see that everyone struggles with some level of anxiety and that it’s normal, then I think we are ahead of the game. With my children now older teenagers, I am constantly battling the anxiety of normal life issues with them. When I need one or the other to go and do something that is outside of their comfort zone it becomes a fight. Like asking one of them to take a load of bags to the Goodwill in the town 30 miles away. This child doesn’t know that town very well and has never seen the Goodwill. But it’s right on the main road into town and there is no way to miss it. We made this child go and do the errand for us, because we were strapped for time that day and could’t do it ourselves. Now to be fair, Jeffrey could have done it the next work day, but this was a good life lesson for the particular child of ours and it all turned out fine. Was there anxiety? YES!! So much so that this child took a friend along for the ride. lol Maybe next time, there won’t be so much anxiety … life lesson accomplished. I have always “made” my children obey me. It’s just how I do things and so far it’s worked out well.
What God’s Word Says
In John 10 the other day, I read the account of Jesus’ one of many talks with the Jewish leaders about His “Godhood” and as I finished the chapter my first thought was “Wow, now that’s rejection”. Here is that account, John 10:22-39:
22 Then came the Festival of Dedication at Jerusalem. It was winter, 23 and Jesus was in the temple courts walking in Solomon’s Colonnade. 24 The Jews who were there gathered around him, saying, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.”
25 Jesus answered, “I did tell you, but you do not believe. The works I do in my Father’s name testify about me, 26 but you do not believe because you are not my sheep. 27 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all[; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand.30 I and the Father are one.”
31 Again his Jewish opponents picked up stones to stone him, 32 but Jesus said to them, “I have shown you many good works from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?”
33 “We are not stoning you for any good work,” they replied, “but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God.”
34 Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your Law, ‘I have said you are “gods”’? 35 If he called them ‘gods,’ to whom the word of God came—and Scripture cannot be set aside— 36 what about the one whom the Father set apart as his very own and sent into the world? Why then do you accuse me of blasphemy because I said, ‘I am God’s Son’?37 Do not believe me unless I do the works of my Father. 38 But if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me, and I in the Father.” 39 Again they tried to seize him, but he escaped their grasp. (John 10:22-39) Italics added.
I was really touched by vs 31-33. Jesus had done may good deeds from the Father, and the leaders want to stone Him. Not for His good works but for His blasphemy. Even though the Old Testament scripture speaks with anticipation of the Messiah and when He comes, they want to stone Him. Now that is rejection. Jesus had so much anxiety that he “escaped their grasp”. I would guess that He escaped quickly. I’m sure He didn’t wander leisurely, but He probably ran. Now, I’m no bible scholar, but I do know that the Jewish leaders were only trying to protect their pocket book and the high place in Rome that they held. The knew that if Jesus really was the Messiah, the Roman government would remove them from their high place that they held. This little revelation is recorded, just after Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead in John 11:45-48:
The Plot to Kill Jesus
“45 Therefore many of the Jews who had come to visit Mary, and had seen what Jesus did,believed in him. 46 But some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done. 47 Then the chief priests and the Pharisees called a meeting of the Sanhedrin.
“What are we accomplishing?” they asked. “Here is this man performing many signs. 48 If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and then the Romans will come and take away both our temple and our nation.”” (John 11:45-48) Italics added.
Jesus suffered social rejection, and I somehow think He may have had a little anxiety about that. He was there to do a job and He was rejected by his own brothers even. I am sure that fact hurt him a little. He was human after all. How did Jesus handle social rejection? He went to the Father for peace and comfort.
He calls us to do the same. To follow His example of going to the Father for peace and comfort in the face of anxiety and rejection. Here is a list of 33 verses from God’s Word to remind us that God is in control and to help with finding peace in the arms of the Father.
Image taken from crosswalk.com.
I do not suffer from anxiety. I do not know what it’s like to be frozen by fear like that. My opinion is that the enemy of the world has much to do with anxiety. If he can keep people frozen in fear, then they will not be effective in the Kingdom of God.
Isaiah 41:13 “For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you ‘Do not fear; I will help you.'”
Jeremiah 29:13 “You will seek me and find me when you seek with all your heart.”
Micah 7:8 “Do not gloat over me my enemy (insert your enemy), though I fallen I will rise, though I sit in darkness, the Lord will be my light.”
I pray that if you are dealing with anxiety of any kind, that these verses from God’s Word will help you find some peace.
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