The cause of anxiety can sometimes be obvious, such as problems with family, health, or work. Anxiety can also be made worse by a lack of character. Let’s see how you can strengthen your character – or better yet, let God make you stronger.
What is character?
Your character is the collection of attributes that determine your actions and reactions. When someone lacks character they tend to look for the easy way out. We don’t want to face our challenges so we:
- Make excuses
- Blame others or our past
- Hide from the truth (denial)
- Compare ourselves to others
In our hearts though, we know what the problem is. Weakness of character can linger for years and cause great anxiety or depression.
In the areas of your life where you encounter anxiety, ask yourself: In what way is my lack of character making the problem worse?
This is not to place blame, but an attempt to see clearly where you can improve things. Only in the trials of life will we find the weak spots in our character. This is why James said that we should “consider it pure joy” when we face difficult situations (James 1:2).
Sometimes we know we handle things poorly, but we don’t know why. We might think it’s laziness when really it might be vanity. Or we might believe our weakness is anger when in reality we are envious. In the light of prayer and introspection, God helps us to see the truth which leads to healing and strength.
A strong character means peace
Weak moments take away your peace. In these cases, when you overreact – or don’t react at all – you don’t feel peace. Did you try to force your will upon others? Did you fail to be loyal to your convictions? At what point did you lose your peace? Answering these questions help you achieve peace which is at the heart of a strong character.
This does not mean that you have to be emotionless. Peace allows for the true and proper expression of feelings.
Put the tempter in his place
The enemy will come to tempt and accuse you during this process. He wants you to be blind and weak. He will tell you things like:
- He/she is completely wrong; they are always making mistakes.
- You are completely wrong; you always make mistakes.
- Change is impossible, this is just how I am.
Satan tempts us to accept the death of hope. These are power situations where you feel a false sense of control by not having to act or react. Too many times we listen to the accuser and rest upon these lies. But none of it is true since there is always a chance for change.
These accusations can also come from people. Don’t listen to people that try to break you down. Don’t listen to the sweet talkers either that tell you that you don’t have any responsibility. Seek truth instead.
Finally, if you fall into the same temptation again and again, this is an opportunity. The measure of your character is how you respond to temptation. Every single time you say “no” you make a habit of strength.
Love is the way
- “As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” (John 13:34)
- “Do unto others as you would have them do to you.” (Luke 6:31)
How did Jesus do this? He came down from heaven to live as a human being. He became one of us to show us how much he understands our suffering. Put yourself in the other person’s shoes. Do not condemn, but be merciful and forgiving and seek forgiveness. This is hard work and requires discernment and spiritual effort. The things that stop you from loving, stop you from having a strong character.
The strength of your character will increase with your capacity to love.
You cannot build a strong character without facing tough times. Some people wish they could win the lottery, thinking only then can they live their dreams. But the easy way out delays – or destroys – the process necessary to develop a strong character. Integrity and character are elements that dispel anxiety, depression, and fear. Nobody can take away your integrity – except yourself.
Instead of winning the lottery, for example, it’s better to find joy in an honest day’s labor. Instead of a magic wand to take away your trouble, accept your situation and let God mold you through the struggle. Stop looking to place blame and know that Jesus took all the blame upon himself.
Begin to hope that you can be committed. Begin to believe that you can be strong.
God may not send you trials, but he does offer to help you with them. When the going gets tough; get on your knees. Cry out to God to show you what he wants. In the places where we are strong, God doesn’t have much room to work. But in the places where we depend on him, his Spirit can produce miraculous results.
A strong character is built day by day, trial by trial, and prayer by prayer. It’s not an easy process, but the rewards are eternal.