The Proverbs 31 Ministries Podcast

What do you do when the "Christian" solutions for anxiety seem to stop working?

What happens when we try to put a Bible verse over what we are feeling but it doesn't change how we actually feel? Taylor Joy Murray — author, COMPEL Writers Training member and our new friend — is all too familiar with these questions. On this episode, she shares her own struggles with anxiety and how God has met her in it. With practical ideas for how to navigate those feelings, this episode is great to send to a friend who needs encouragement.

Show Notes

What do you do when the "Christian" solutions for anxiety seem to stop working?

What happens when we try to put a Bible verse over what we are feeling but it doesn't change how we actually feel? Taylor Joy Murray — author, COMPEL Writers Training member and our new friend — is all too familiar with these questions. On this episode, she shares her own struggles with anxiety and how God has met her in it. With practical ideas for how to navigate those feelings, this episode is great to send to a friend who needs encouragement.

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Click here to read the transcript for this episode.

What is The Proverbs 31 Ministries Podcast?

For over 25 years Proverbs 31 Ministries' mission has been to intersect God's Word in the real, hard places we all struggle with. That's why we started this podcast. Every episode will feature a variety of teachings from president Lysa TerKeurst, staff members or friends of the ministry who can teach you something valuable from their vantage point. We hope that regardless of your age, background or stage of life, it's something you look forward to listening to each month!

Kaley Olson:
Hi, friends. Thanks for joining us for another episode of The Proverbs 31 Ministries Podcast, where we share biblical Truth for any girl in any season.

I'm your host, Kaley Olson, and I am so excited to tell you a little bit about today's episode. You're going to hear from a new friend to the podcast named Taylor Joy Murray.
Taylor is an author and a member of COMPEL Writers Training. And today, she is here to share about her story with anxiety and how she has learned to stop saying, "I'm fine" to herself and to her friends when people really want to help her process what she's going through.
And I think this is really important, because she's going to help us understand how she learned to allow space to answer the question from Psalm 42:5(a), "Why, my soul, are you downcast?"(NIV)This is a great conversation that I cannot wait for you to hear with Taylor. So let's jump right in.

Meredith Brock:
All right, friends. We're excited to get to spend some time today with our new friend Taylor Murray. Hi, Taylor.

Taylor Joy Murray:
Hi. Thank you so much for having me.

Kaley Olson:
Taylor, we're so excited that you're joining us.
And fun fact, guys, Taylor's joining us from her dorm room.

Meredith Brock:
Oh! Love it!

Kaley Olson:
I know. Because she's in her second year of grad school at Liberty.
Taylor, tell us what you're studying at Liberty right now.

Taylor Joy Murray:
Yeah. So I'm in my second year of clinical mental health counseling, so working towards licensure.

Kaley Olson:
That's awesome.
Meredith, that's right up your alley. [inaudible 00:01:43]

Meredith Brock:
I know. Believe it or not, I have a master's degree in rehabilitation counseling.

Taylor Joy Murray:
Oh wow.

Meredith Brock:
So Taylor, I've been there and I'm glad I'm not there anymore.
Bless you on your grad school journey.

Taylor Joy Murray:

Kaley Olson:
Well, I mean, I'm glad we're talking about grad school and all the things that Taylor's learning, because that's actually why Taylor is here today, to give us a message based on her book that's coming out soon called Stop Saying I'm Fine: Finding Stillness When Anxiety Screams. And that's what you're going to talk to us about today, because that's what you're learning and that's a message that the Lord has given you.

But you actually have a really cool story about how this book actually is being published. So will you quickly tell us about what this journey has been like for you and a little bit about your book?

Taylor Joy Murray:
Yeah, yeah. So I actually joined COMPEL Training my sophomore or junior year of college. And it was kind of just a spur of the moment thing. I joined COMPEL and it was during the summer that COVID shut the world down. So I had finished my semester and didn't have a lot of summer plans. And so I remember I would just go into my room and I watched every single video on the COMPEL Training website.

Kaley Olson:
Oh wow.

Taylor Joy Murray:
I would just go through all the modules, and it was like my eyes were ... I have loved writing since I was a little girl. So I've loved just the process of writing and crafting words and sentences. But I think COMPEL really helped me just learn more about the craft of writing and what it looks like to actually form a message in a way that's compelling and that engages readers.
So yeah, I joined COMPEL and I'm still a COMPEL member right now.

And so I think about a year after I had joined COMPEL, I was actually in the first round of the Book Proposal Bootcamp, and that was an incredible, incredible opportunity for me.
I remember I was in my dorm room one night and I got the email that I had been accepted, and I did this little dance party by myself. I was so excited.

Kaley Olson:

Taylor Joy Murray:
Yeah. So that process really just helped me understand more of how to write a book proposal.
And then after that process, I submitted a book proposal through one of the COMPEL challenges and I ended up getting the contract with Leafwood. Yeah. So that's kind of my journey up to this point.

Kaley Olson:
That's awesome.

Meredith Brock:
That's amazing, Taylor. And we're so glad to have you with us today and that we're able to get behind this message, because it is so needed.

And if you're listening today and you want to learn more about COMPEL Training, you can go to, or you can hang around after the show and we're going to give you some more details, because we've got some really incredible opportunities for anybody who might be listening who wants to get published or learn more about the craft of writing.
But that's enough about that.

Taylor, we cannot wait to hear what you have to share with us today. So why don't you take it away?

Taylor Joy Murray:
Yeah, yeah. So my book that's coming out is called Stop Saying I'm Fine: Finding Stillness When Anxiety Screams. And that's because anxiety has been a huge part of my story.
I have struggled with anxiety for as long as I can remember, and it really reached the highest, hardest part during a gap year that I took in between graduating high school and my freshman year of college.

During that year, I went to a gap year program in Germany, and it was a really hard season for me, because I was studying God's Word, I was in the scripture, I was going to classes, but I was struggling so much with anxiety and with an eating disorder.

And towards the end of the gap year program, I had to go to the doctor because my eating disorder symptoms had gotten so bad and I was diagnosed clinically with anorexia.
And I remember coming back to the Bible College and just running upstairs to the bathroom, and I locked the door and it led me to a fetal position on the bathroom floor in the middle of a panic attack.

And in that moment, God felt so far away, and I remember just sitting on the bathroom floor and just envisioning God's disapproval and disappointment just of the circumstance that I found myself in and the anxiety that I was feeling. And in that moment, I was so angry with myself for what I was struggling with. I kept saying, I remember over and over again, "I don't want anxiety to be a part of my story."

And for so long, I had hid my struggle. I grew up in a lot of Christian communities and I felt really ashamed of the struggle. And so I just hid my anxiety so much until I began to hide me.
And I remember when I was on the bathroom floor that day, I just asked God, "Is something wrong with me? Why aren't the Christian solutions to curing anxiety working for me? I'm praying, I'm trying to trust … Why does it seem like it's falling short, and is it even OK to say that?"

And since that moment on the bathroom floor, I've had to pursue a lot of healing, both for anorexia and for anxiety, and I ended up going to a residential treatment facility for 10 weeks. I was admitted about two weeks after I finished my gap year program in Germany. And it's been a long journey of healing and of going to counseling, and of just learning how to honestly meet God in this struggle.

One of the verses that I've just really clung to over the years is Psalm 42:5, and it says, "Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why have you become restless and disturbed within me? Hope in God and wait expectantly for Him, for I shall again praise Him, for the help of His presence." (AMP)

I remember that, especially during high school, I would read those words over and over again, and I would rush to the verse's end where I'd command myself to hope and wait and praise and give thanks.

But recently, I realized that in all my rushing to get to the end of that Psalm 42 passage, I never actually allowed my soul the space to answer that question, "Why are you in despair, O my soul? Why have you become restless and disquieted within me?"

And on this journey, I really began to realize that the way towards stillness is actually learning how to give my anxiety the space to speak and to actually asking myself, "Why am I feeling anxiety right now? What's underneath it?"

And I've begun to realize more and more that maybe the anxiety that wells up inside of me doesn't need to be locked away and looked over and ignored or stuffed down, but actually lingered in and listened to. And it's really been this shift of just begging God, "Please fix me," to learning how to meet Him and to find Him in it.

One of the things that has been really just a game changer for me, in my own healing journey with anxiety, is recognizing the important difference between worry and anxiety.
Both of those words are found in Scripture, and I remember when I first started writing Stop Saying I'm Fine, I did a deep dive into studying both. I would do the word studies and scripture, and I would try to understand what the words actually meant, and I would research them clinically. And I began to realize that they're actually two really different things.
So worry, I'm learning, is a really future-oriented and control-based response. And worry primarily is in our minds, and it's focused on living ahead of the present and trying to control our circumstances; where anxiety is actually a physiological response that we feel in our bodies and is actually a natural response to a perceived threat, and it's really connected to our sense of safety. And then that sense of safety is so often formed from experiences in our childhoods.
And so I began to realize that my response to when I'm feeling worry and when I'm feeling anxiety are two really different things; where when I'm feeling worry, I pray and I ask God to help that I would have trust in Him for the thing that I am worrying about, but when I feel anxiety, I'm realizing that, so often, I need to reach for connection. I need to reach for support. I need to breathe, take deep breaths. I need to ask myself and ask God and ask other people to sit with me and to help me understand, "What's going on underneath that anxiety?"
I've realized more and more that anxiety is often like a blinking light on the dashboard of our hearts, indicating that something deeper is going on inside of us. You know, I'm learning in my classes that our brains are incredibly trustworthy organs, and when we feel anxiety, we can know that our brains are trying to tell us to look deeper.

So I've learned to slowly give my anxiety space to speak rather than trying to silence it, because the more that I try to silence my anxiety, the louder it has to scream.
So I'm learning in my anxious moments to ask myself, "How would my soul answer those questions in Psalm 42:5?", and identifying, "What is the deeper root beneath my anxiety?"
Because yeah, like I said, when we feel anxiety, so often, we don't need a solution we need connection, both with God and with others.

You know, as I've walked this healing journey with anxiety, I've definitely not been fixed like I've prayed for. It's definitely still a really dominant struggle in my life. But there are a couple really just key things that have helped me along my journey that I would love to just share.
One of those, like I said, is the impact of counseling. I went to a residential treatment facility, like I said, for 10 weeks after my gap year in Germany, and that was such a transformative time in meeting with the pastoral staff there. But also with clinical counselors who could help me understand my story in deeper ways, and learning my body's physiological responses and how my body holds the anxiety and how to move through it.

I've learned deep breathing and how to set better boundaries in my social life. And I've begun to realize that, some days, when I don't get a lot of sleep, the next day, I feel anxiety.
And so just learning how to be more aware of how my body is holding my anxiety and how to move through it in just really practical ways. Another element that has been so powerful in my own healing journey is growing in self-awareness.

You know, one of the chapters in my book is me just sharing my story of this deep rooted belief I have that I am not enough. And part of that chapter is just going back and tracing all the moments in my life, those little tiny moments that have solidified that not-enough narrative in my story.

So just growing in self-awareness, growing and understanding how my story and my experiences have contributed to my struggle with anxiety, that's been so huge for me.
And another one, like I said, is just learning how to invite God into my anxious moments.
If you've struggled with anxiety, you know that when you have a panic attack or when you're feeling anxiety, it feels so isolating and lonely. It feels like such a scary place to be. So scary. But when I have begun to invite God more into my anxious moments, I'm realizing that that moment can shift from a scary place to a sacred space.

Because God is so close to us. If the Holy Spirit is in me, then that means that he is closer than my very breath. I am not alone in any moment that I'm in, especially in my anxious moments, and especially when I feel so alone.

So learning what it looks like, and in those anxious moments to invite God into them and to say, "God, I need you right now. Would you help me breathe? Would you help me to know that you're with me? Would you give me peace that passes all understanding?", and being able to walk out of those moments and carry the peace of God with me into whatever I'm going into next.

And in so many moments where I've experienced anxiety as such a scary place to be, and I've reached out to God for connection, that scary place has turned into a sacred space of connection and healing and communication with Him.

Another one is just getting into the practice of saying, "I'm not fine."
It's really funny because when I wrote Stop Saying I'm Fine, I wrote the manuscript and turned it into Leafwood and I didn't read it for a while. And then I got back edits from the publisher and I made those edits. And I was reading it one last time before it went to the printer, and I realized for the first time that it was this moment of me saying, "I'm not fine" at the beginning of the book, and then as I began to just write about this healing journey that I was on, I began to realize that it was this process of me saying, "I'm not fine" over and over and over and over again.
So saying, "I'm not fine," meeting God and reaching out for connection, moving forward, taking a couple more steps, saying "I'm not fine" again, meeting Him in it, reaching out for connection. It's such a non-linear process. And that has been so freeing for me to realize. When we're healing from anxiety, when we're on this journey, it is not a linear process at all. And that's OK. That's what it's supposed to be.

And giving grace for ourselves in that, that it's not supposed to be the straight line, but in those non-linear moments of saying, "I'm not fine" over and over and over again and stepping into honesty about it, that God can meet us there in really profound ways, that's just part of the journey.

For years, I have, like I said, just begged God to just fix me from my struggle with anxiety. I don't like to say "I'm not fine." It's not a comfortable thing to say and it's hard to be honest. But where I've wanted the power that delivers, I've received more of the grace that sustains.
And yeah, I've wanted to be fixed from that struggle. I've wanted to never experience just that air sucking, claustrophobic feeling of anxiety again. But that hasn't been my story, but I've encountered a grace that is freeing and gripping and beautiful.

And so part of my story is just learning how to live well inside of a story where anxiety is a really dominant theme, and learning how to meet God in the middle of those messy anxious moments and knowing that here He offers us safety and calls us His beloved. He's not against us, but He truly is for us. And learning how to meet Him here and know that He calls us His beloved and that He wants to meet us here with open arms.

Kaley Olson:

Meredith Brock:
Yeah. Taylor, that was so good. I love that you ended mentioning that there is grace for the hard things that you walk through.

Just yesterday, one of my teammates here at Proverbs 31 was talking about the phrase that we use so often, "God knew about this," and how it can be both reassuring, but also really, really hurtful as a human to think, "God, you knew that I would struggle with this, so why didn't you stop it from happening?" And kind of living in the tension of feeling reassured that He is sovereign, but then also just wondering, "But why? Why am I walking through this?"
And so I appreciate you sharing your story and letting us into it. And even alluding to the fact that, even if you never truly get over the anxiety, that God is with you and He is helping you in this.

And so, Taylor, I would love to park for just a minute on the loneliness that you talked about that we can feel with anxiety, and specifically how do we address this with our friends?
Because I think for someone ... I've dealt with anxiety in the past and had to go to counseling for it as well. So I am right there with you. I get that. There's this dialogue that can happen between you and your counselor that's really helpful and healing, and then there's the dialogue with the Lord.

But sometimes it's really awkward to talk to your friends about struggling with this and being open about it. Because I think being friends personally with someone who has anxiety, I kind of know ... You know there's something wrong before they actually say something is wrong. And so when you finally do let your friends in, how can those people who struggle with anxiety equip their friends to help them walk through this season well and not be lonely, but be surrounded by community?

So will you talk for a minute about that?

Taylor Joy Murray:
Yeah, yeah, of course.
Yeah. I think for me, like you said, it has been really, really hard to let people into this struggle, because in my brain I'm like, "Well, I'm feeling anxious right now and I feel like I'm going to feel more anxious if I tell people I'm feeling anxious."

But I'm learning that, that's actually not the case. When I say, "I'm feeling anxious right now" to a friend, my anxiety actually goes down. And I think just reaching for connection in that ...
And then I think the people that I naturally gravitate towards most in being honest about this struggle are people that can just offer honestly a non-anxious presence in that moment.
Even a couple days ago, I had a really long day and I came back and I was feeling really anxious. And I walk into my dorm room and a couple of my roommates were there. And they know about my struggle with anxiety, so I was super honest with them and I was just like, "I'm really anxious right now and I'm struggling with anxiety, and I just feel like I need to say that out loud." And they just sat with me and they didn't really say anything.
I think the thing that I've learned more and more is that when I say I'm anxious, I'm not looking for a solution, because it can't really be fixed, but I am looking for someone who can just sit with me in it and say, "Yeah, of course you're feeling anxious right now. You had a really long day" or "You had so many things to do. Of course, you're feeling that way."

Just sitting with me in it and encouraging me to breathe, or helping me identify, "OK, what's the deeper emotion? What are you feeling right now beneath your anxiety?" And helping me to pinpoint that … Those are such simple practical things that people can do, but that are just ... they help so much when you're in an anxious moment.

Kaley Olson:

Meredith Brock:
That's so good, Taylor.
I don't know if you know this, but some of our listeners know this, that I'm a foster mom. And some of the training that you go through when you are caring for children who come from trauma is all about co-regulation.

And what that means is when you go back to ... There's a reason why, guys, after we have our babies, you want to hold them and pat their back, and when they're upset ... It's because you're using your physical body to replicate the regulated system of the mom.

So you're patting them on the back, you're swaying because they know in utero they experienced your heartbeat, and that is what regulated their physiological, biological system. And so when they come, when they're born, they still need that same level of co-regulation with another person.

And isn't it so interesting? Can we just reflect on how scripture tells us about our God? He's a triune God. He is in relationships. So we are created in His image to be in relationship. Even at birth, we need another person to regulate our system.

And that need never goes away. You need ... Just like you said, Taylor, it looks different as you mature, but children need their moms. Even infants need their moms to calm them down, even five-year-old’s. It gets less and less needy of another person's actual physical body and more and more need of just their physical presence to help you re-regulate what might be happening physiologically in your body.

And so I think it's so good that you said when you're in a moment of anxiety, or what I like to call “the spiral” ... Personally, I start spiraling. And I am a really private person. I process things very internally. And I have learned over the years, the worst thing I can do is not talk to somebody. The worst thing I can do is try to re-regulate myself by myself. I can't. At that moment, I am an unregulated system. I need to find a regulated system to help me re-regulate.
That usually comes in the form of my husband. I'll start talking and he can help me regulate my actual biological body by his calmness, by his lack of anxiety. I start to re-regulate to him.
So I think that's so good, Taylor, to not just say, "This is a practical way to do it,” but this is a biological way for us to actually combat anxiety; is let's physically, verbally acknowledge you're having one of those moments, your brain starts to already release some chemicals that you need to come back down, and then let your body regulate to a person who is not anxious in the moment.

So really strong, really great advice there.

Kaley Olson:
Yeah. Yeah.

Meredith Brock:
Good stuff.

Kaley Olson:
I agree. And too ... I mean, just bringing it all the way back down to the gospel and why we do what we do here at Proverbs, how amazing is it that the most regular and trustworthy source that we can come back to is a God who is never going to change?

Taylor Joy Murray:

Kaley Olson:
Even when we feel like He might be distant or even when it feels like He is silent, there's so much access that we have to Him through His Word and through the Holy Spirit …

Taylor Joy Murray:

Kaley Olson:
... who is with us and who can help regulate us. Even if that's something a human can never do …

Taylor Joy Murray:
That's right. That's right.

Kaley Olson:
... That's something He can always do. So Taylor, thank you so much for coming on the show today. I know that I needed this message, and I'm so grateful that you reminded us to not be alone in our struggle with anxiety, but to let people in. So thank you for talking with us and for sharing your story.

For our friends listening, hang tight, because I've got a few other announcements before I let you go.
Don't forget about Taylor's book, Stop Saying I'm fine. If this message spoke to you today and you want to support Taylor in her author journey, you can purchase from us at Proverbs 31 by visiting our bookstore online at

And as promised, we want to remind you about the value that you can find with COMPEL Writers Training. Taylor talked so much about how COMPEL helped her in a season of wanting to grow as an author and even helped her in her dream to have her message published as a book. And so, if you are feeling that same call to write and need help in honing your craft whenever you feel stagnant or maybe stuck in your writing, or maybe you're lonely and you need to connect with a community of like-minded women when you feel lonely and separated from anyone else who also feels the call to right, COMPEL is the place for you. And so, if you're ready to take the next step in your writing journey, you can start by visiting
Well, friends, that is all for today. Thank you so much for tuning in at Proverbs 31 Ministries. We believe when you know the truth and live the truth, it changes everything.