In college, I remember feeling super anxious and overwhelmed at the thought of sharing my faith with other people. I remember thinking I’ll be too awkward, they’ll think I am weird, I don’t know what to say. While I slowly got less anxious about sharing my faith with new people, I realized that, despite suffering from anxiety, God was still giving me the tools to evangelize as He was calling me to.
Not Just for the Fearless
Being a Catholic with anxiety often feels like being a deer in the headlights when it comes to talking about faith. It is important to remember that you are not alone. Evangelizing isn’t just for those “extroverts” or the “fearless”. Fear is a part of our human nature and is the result of living in a fallen world. If you carry the cross of anxiety know that you are not defined by your anxiety. Anxiety is a cross that we might be called to carry for a time but it doesn’t take away from the fact that we are sons and daughters of our heavenly Father and are called by our Baptism to bring others to know and understand this truth as well.
Anxiety does not define you. The truth is that Christ longs to help us carry our crosses of anxiety and calls us to take real steps towards real healing. Within these steps towards healing, we are able to share our faith exactly how He calls us to and walk with others towards Christ and the Gospel.
Yep, Anxiety and All
At your Baptism, you became a child of God the Father and have a call written on your heart to share the Gospel. At the center of the Gospel is the truth that Christ has conquered death and has freed us all from sin. God calls you, even with your weaknesses, and gives you the gifts and His Spirit to go and make disciples of all nations. Christ calls you to share His truth and love, with your anxiety and all.
Anxiety the Stepladder
St. Rose of Lima once said, “Apart from the cross, there is no other ladder by which we may get to heaven.” If anxiety is a cross you carry, then know that Christ is going to use this cross to not only draw you to heaven but also to bring others to Himself. Here are some ways that Jesus can work through anxiety to enter into other’s hearts and bring them to His love:
In Their Shoes
Millions of other people carry this cross of anxiety. When sharing the faith I found out that so many others had the same fears and insecurities I had and that I could really relate and understand how they were feeling. Understanding what it’s like to be in their shoes helped me to share the Gospel in ways they needed to hear it the most. Your experiences with anxiety can actually help you meet people where they are at in bringing Christ to them. By beginning to understand your own experiences, you can we become equipped to be patient and loving in how you share Christ’s love with others when they too are anxious and going through hard times.
Witness of Hope
Evangelizing with anxiety means speaking the truth of hope to others and even sharing that with your own anxiety you are trusting in Christ each and every day. St. Pope Paul VI once said, Modern man listens more willingly to witnesses than to teachers, and if he does listen to teachers, it is because they are witnesses. This means that sharing your struggles with anxiety along with the hope you’ve found in Jesus actually gives people the courage and strength to look at their own struggles, whatever they may be, and look to Christ for hope.
Evangelizing with anxiety means that as you take real steps to heal your own anxiety like talking with a therapist, paying attention to your thoughts and feelings, and being patient and kind with yourself, you model the act of faith to others. I noticed that in talking about my own journey with anxiety I was able to show how God was loving me in my needs, struggles, and human weaknesses; I was able to prove that He longs to heal anxiety and has put real, concrete tools in front of us to start working towards that healing.
Call in Back-up
When feeling uncomfortable talking with new people I would often call in a friend or two as a back-up. The Church is a source of grace and support when we are sharing the faith. It can really help to ask friends from Church if they are willing to back you up when inviting others to Mass, Life Nights, or simply in just trying to build real relationships. There is a saying that saints come in pairs so don’t be afraid to have an evangelization buddy!
A huge part of evangelization is simply building relationships. When sharing faith with others don’t forget that you can just get to know them as people. It’s always great to grow in our understanding of what our faith teaches but it’s also important to just get to know those we are sharing the faith with. When in doubt ask about their lives, what they like, what they’re watching on Disney+; whatever comes to mind and see where God takes you as you build authentic relationships.
Don’t Forget To…
Prayer is the basis of evangelization, as it’s the basis of the relationship with Jesus that compels us to share the Gospel. Bringing the joy of the Gospel to others in your words and actions also means inviting that joy that only Christ can give into your heart through prayer. God has already given you the gifts necessary to share His love and you can call upon the Holy Spirit to guide you. Whether its saying a quick prayer before sharing with others or talking to someone, you can always pray the simple prayer of, “Come, Holy Spirit,” in trusting that the Spirit is guiding you to share God’s love.
Lastly, one of the greatest things you can do is first evangelize yourself. I find that I need daily reminders of God’s love for me. When anxieties and insecurities come up even with talking with others, it is so important to remind yourself of the truth of Christ and the hope that He brings. That might mean turning to Scripture, spiritual reading, or watching Catholic speakers give talks on Youtube. Turning your own mind to the joy and hope of the Gospel allows you to cast out negative thoughts about yourself that might hinder your evangelization.
Joy Be Our Strength
Whether you are like me and felt awkward or weird, know that God has called you, His child, to share His love with others. Anxiety doesn’t define you and He works within your struggles and will glorify them by drawing people closer to Himself through your witness. Your witness, your journey, your questions, and your hope, are the strength and the path for others in encountering Christ. God is working through you in amazing ways to share the Good News of His son Jesus Christ. God is calling you to share this joy with the world, with your anxiety and all.