Anxious: Choosing Faith in a World of Worry by Amy Simpson is a book on the mental health topic it’s titled after. It explores as Christians how we are to respond to situation and personal stories of anxiety, noting that the easy “Christian quips” of “just pray more” are not helpful and then gives Scripture and practical advice on how to proceed. The personal nature of this book makes it feel authentic, giving insight into big concerns like her experience of coming toe to toe with a bear in Alaska, but also trying to control how her day or week may go in a stressful week.
I will say this book is a deviation from her previous book, Troubled Minds that talks about mental illness, noting how growing up with her mother who struggles with psychosis has impacted her life and her desire to see mental illness become more accepted by the Church. Instead, this books talks about anxiety in general, but not anxiety disorders. It isn’t until the end that she clarifies the difference between the two, so it was disappointing to see this not be fleshed out in the text at the end.
A Good Personal Reminder
Yet, most people do not struggle with an anxiety disorder, and more than other books by Christians on anxiety, I feel comfortable recommending this book to someone who needs to practice healthy coping skills or integrating their faith more into their own stress management. In fact, I would say I myself was reminded about my need to personally improve on my faith in my own stress management, finding myself reflecting several times in this book and wanting to share it with my wife to work on this together.
One of the best quotes from the book that highlights the tone of the book as Christians who need to understand and better practice managing their anxiety, I want you to apply this to yourselves as well:
Worry is not the same as fear; it’s the practice of indulging fear, clinging to it, feeding and serving it. Worry is a cheap substitute for productive action and for surrender to someone with capabilities and perspective far beyond our own.Anxious, page 10-11
It goes on to talk about fear in general is not sinful, but worry in the sense of selfishness is us not trusting God. Further, at the end of the book, she makes the clarification of biological and irrational factors that affect mental illness are also not sinful. My hope is to use this language more when talking about anxiety with Christians as I have many times hit a wall of “just stop worrying because God is in control” when in reality there are actually two separate conversations happening.
The book is well laid out and the disappointment I experienced has nothing to do with the author’s misrepresentation. This is a great book for Christian counselors to give to their pastor friends, Christians who need to do better with basic stress management, and helping others understand how sin plays into the conversation of anxiety. Overall, I’d give the book a 4 out of 5.