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Mental Health Counseling from a Biblical Perspective for Teens, Young Adults, Adults, and Couples in the Redmond and NewCastle areas. Seattle Christian Counseling for Teens & Adults emphasizing God's word with Joshua Loy, MA LMHC and Gabe Davis, M.Div, M.S., LMFT.

My Daughter’s Name is Sparrow (Anxiety & Feelings)

Blog | New Ground Counseling | Addiction Counselor

Blog posts from Joshua Loy, MA LMHC and Gabe Davis MS, MDiv, LMFT. New Ground Counseling focuses on Bible-based, Mental Health Counseling for Teens in the Redmond, Bellevue and greater Seattle area.  Emphasizing the power of God's Word in Biblical Counseling with Teens and Young Adults.

My Daughter’s Name is Sparrow (Anxiety & Feelings)

Joshua Loy

My Daughter’s Name is Sparrow

I have a daughter named Sparrow Rae.  Whatever your preference on baby names (conventional, in-family, Bible-only, boys-as-girls, hippy dippy, movie-reference, “I like how it sounds,” etc.), Sparrow Rae probably falls beyond your guardrails.  In Latin, her name must mean “to raise one’s eyebrows,” because that’s the net effect of every introduction to our sweet five year-old girl.  I’m sure we’ve set her up for some serious playground banter (“Fly away, SPARROW RAE!”), or at least some sort of identity crisis (e.g. becoming the bird-lady from Home Alone 2: Lost in New York). 

We named her Sparrow to remind her of Jesus’ words in Matthew 6, “Do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear… Look at the sparrows; they do not sow or reap or store away, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.  Are you not much more valuable than they?”  In short, Kindal and I know what it is like to be ruled by worry + anxiety.  And we desperately desire that Sparrow would believe:

1) She does not have to worry and
2) She is incredibly valuable

Note that neither are based on her performance or self-esteem.  They do not come from her circumstances or her feelings.  They don’t come from her at all.  Both are because of her Heavenly Father.

And so it is with worry that the problem is inside us—our fears, insecurities, hypervigilance, and unpleasant physical responses.  We must find something outside of ourselves to free us from anxiety, to anchor us in these tossing waves.  Specifically, the pitching surf of anxiety is our feelings.  

My Feelings Are Screaming

Feelings are incredibly persuasive.  In any given moment, our feelings yell the loudest.  Dallas Willard likens them to little children, clamoring desperately for our attention, screaming, “Give me, give me, give me.”  Feelings are convincing because they are deeply felt, sincere, and personal.  Moreover, with anxiety you tend to over-feel, along with a terribly bodily chain reaction that comes with it.  When that happens, you’ll end up feeling like a slave to your feelings of worry, fear, and dread.  That’s why almost every person I see with anxiety has a similar mantra: I can’t live like this anymore.  Willard says, "Our feelings are good servants, but they are disastrous masters" (Willard, 2012).

(DON'T) Follow your heart

“Follow Your Heart” is a statement of faith in our culture.  It is the belief that your heart is a compass that will point you to true north, if you’ll only have the courage to follow it.  It’s also the thesis for every Disney movie.  This creed is on our lips all the time.  If you listen intently to everyday conversations, you’ll hear the common measuring stick of feelings:

“I feel like this is the best decision for me”
“I prayed about it and I feel like this is God’s will”
“I just don’t feel like I love him anymore”
“It just felt like a God-thing”

We feel it = we believe it.  Now take a moment to consider what anxiety feels: 

  • alone
  • unsafe
  • fearful
  • frazzled
  • weak/incapable
  • hopeless

If our feelings are our compass, anxious people are hopelessly lost.  We have to throw away the measuring stick of how we are feeling.  Don’t follow your heart. 

When I Feel Alone

There are zero instances in the Bible where God has instructed us to believe what we feel (a.k.a. following your heart).  But in the New Testament alone, there are 241 instances where we are commanded to believe the Father, his promises, his Word, and his Son (Moser, 2013).

There is radical disparity between our feelings and God’s words.  They disagree with one another.  In fact, they are fighting.  This is especially true when we are anxious or worrying.  A common experience of anxiety is aloneness.  Your feelings (and maybe even your thoughts) are saying, I am alone.  No one knows what I’m going through.  No one cares.  But is that true? 

Believe God’s Word, Not Your Feelings

One of the sweetest passages of the Bible is 1 Peter 5:7, “Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you.”  When I read this verse, I’m kind of shocked.  Don’t you mean, ‘because he is in control’ or ‘because he is perfectly wise?’  No, Peter says that, in our anxious moments, what we need is to remember God’s personal love (“he cares for you”).  How can you remember his love for you?  I’ve listed some practical ways at the bottom, but the best way is to let God tell you over and over again in His own words.  Consider just two passages:

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified, for the Lord your God goes with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Deut. 31:6)
“Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword [or feelings of aloneness or anxiety or worry]?  No… [Nothing] will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:35, 39)

So, if I am in Jesus, am I alone?  Does no one care?  Does nobody know what I am going through?  The answer is clearly no.  We desperately need these sweet statements to be our anchor, our compass.  And we need them especially when we don’t feel them.

Praying By Faith

Ed Welch recalls a season of life when he stopped praying.  For years he had enjoyed a sense of God’s presence that led to a thriving prayer life.  Until the day it stopped.  It felt as if his prayers were going nowhere.  It felt like God was gone.  He was talking to the ceiling.  So he stopped praying.  Disturbed and struggling, he told a dear friend who responded, “Why didn’t you just pray by faith?” (Welch, 1997).

This is where the trench warfare occurs in the battle of anxiety.  It will be God’s promises vs. our feelings.  We won’t be delivered by anything short of faith.  Will we trust our Heavenly Father, even when our emotions are screaming otherwise?  Or will we pray:

Jesus, I do not feel your presence.  I feel alone and anxious.  But you say you are with me always.  You say that you are closer than my skin, even though I feel like you are miles away.  Help me believe, until my emotions can feel it to be true.

Also, Jesus… please don’t let my daughter become the bird lady from Home Alone 2.

Practical resources

These are wonderful resources that have helped many of my counselees remember God's promises when they are feeling anxious:

Day 1: Psalm 25:1-22
Day 2: Psalm 34:1-24
Day 3: Psalm 86:1-17
Day 4: Psalm 103:1-22
Day 5: Psalm 106:1-48
Day 6: Isaiah 54:4-14
Day 7: Romans 5:6-11
Day 8: Romans 8:31-37
Day 9: Deut. 7:6-11
Day 10: Luke 15:11-24
Day 11: Ephesians 3:15-19
Day 12: 1 John 4:7-11  
(Moser, 2013)


Bloom, John. "Don't Follow Your Heart." Desiring God. N.p., 09 Mar. 2015. Web. 07 Mar. 2016.

Moser, Phil. Safe in the Storm. Biblical Strategies, 2013. Print.

Somerville, Robert B. If I'm a Christian, Why Am I Depressed?: Finding Meaning and Hope in the Dark Valley: One Man's Journey. N.p.: n.p., n.d. Print.

Welch, Edward T. When People Are Big and God Is Small: Overcoming Peer Pressure, Codependency, and the Fear of Man. Phillipsburg, NJ: P & R Pub., 1997. Print.

Willard, Dallas. Renovation of the Heart: Putting on the Character of Christ. Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 2012. Print.