Anyone who has faced a battle with anxiety knows how exhausting and debilitating it can be--and how difficult it can be to even put the associated emotions into words. Fortunately, if this is something you have struggled with, you're not alone. Many of your favorite Christian musicians have had the same experience, and have used their gifts to put the experience into words and sing hope into the storm.
Here are ten recent songs that were born out of the process of wrestling with and finding hope through anxiety.
"Not Dead Yet" by LEDGER
The lead single from the debut EP by LEDGER, the side project of longtime Skillet drummer Jen Ledger, instantly heads into deep waters by tackling the topic of anxiety. The subject is personal for Jen, who went through a season of crippling anxiety while on tour a few years ago. In an interview with NRT, she recounted a conversation with Skillet's Korey Cooper after a bad episode: "I said, 'What is this feeling and what if this is something that I always have to fight?' And Korey just looked and me and said, 'Then you never give up, Jen. You fight until the last breath leaves your body. You never give up the fight to do what God has called you to do.'" That call to determined endurance is captured beautifully in "Not Dead Yet."
"Need You Now" by Plumb
One of the most widely embraced contemporary Christian songs birthed from a struggle with anxiety is "Need You Now" by Plumb. Tiffany Lee has never been one to shy away from difficult topics, and with the title track from her 2013 release, she took listeners into her adolescent fight with crippling anxiety. "Doctors couldn't fix me, so prayer became my only safety net," Plumb shared with NRT. "God was always there; even in my difficulty I was still breathing in and out. As that would continue, God started to replace my fears with hope. It took years and years, and through medicine and more importantly more confidence in my Creator that would make me less and less anxious."
"Still Breathing" by VERIDIA VERIDIA's unique and powerful rock sound has always been fueled by passion and honesty--values lead singer Deena Jakoub channeled into this empowering single. "Anxiety is a vicious beast that I often battle with on a daily basis," Deena told NRT. "I needed a song as an outlet for me personally, and I hope it will also help and encourage people who deal with this too. I needed a reminder that there's something in every day to be grateful for. Sometimes you have to take it one single day at a time, and sometimes narrowing it down to a single breath and focusing on that." Fittingly, "Still Breathing" creates exactly that kind of breathing space for listeners.
"Witness" by Jordan Feliz
The first single from pop powerhouse Jordan Feliz's sophomore album Future presents itself as a joyful declaration, but it came from a difficult place. He gave us a glimpse into its creation: "I struggled for months with panic attacks and I had stress and anxiety about writing my next album and hoping that it would be good. I had been speaking with a therapist as well about my worries... There are days of happiness, laughter and blessings, and there are days of dealing with loss, sadness, depression, anxiety and stress. The beautiful thing about Christians and being a believer is that we put our belief in God who has reign and sovereignty over everything." That comforting truth is affirmed over and over in "Witness."
"Enemy, love" by John Mark McMillan John Mark McMillan is best known for his worship smash hit "How He Loves," but his work has always been more complex and multi-dimensional than just the hits. His recent release Mercury & Lightning is his latest foray into the complexities of faith, including looking at how it interacts with anxiety on "Enemy, love." "Anxiety. I try to control my world and since that is SUPREMELY not possible... I get anxiety," the songwriter shared on Facebook. "It seems like so often the very things we do to protect or hold onto what we love ends up stealing them from us. See, my attempts to control the universe only create enemies. Enemies with the world, with people, enemies with the ones I love, and I find myself at odds with God and with myself."
"Anxiety" by Levi the Poet
Spoken word artist Levi the Poet's contribution to art's conversation about anxiety serves as a crucial piece of education. In a world where anxiety is often dismissed as a moral defect or simply "not trusting enough," Levi collaborated with mental health organization To Write Love On Her Arms to share the story of a conversation he had with a personal friend. The conversation explains the actual experience of panic attacks, serving in the crucial role of dismantling stigma.
"Fearless" by Jasmine Murray
New pop artist Jasmine Murray has been steadily climbing the charts into broader awareness over the past year, especially through her standout single "Fearless." "It's just so tough to know what people are really struggling with or going through because our tendency is to look like we have it all together," Jasmine explained. "We cannot overcome fear on our own. If we try--like I have--we're going to fail. When we believe in Him, He promises us courage and strength."
"Lifeline" by Thousand Foot Krutch
Rock and roll veterans Thousand Foot Krutch have always been intentional about lending their voices to the voiceless and creating honest conversation. "Lifeline" from their latest album Exhale does just that, taking listeners into a season where lead singer Trevor McNevan was feeling anxious and overwhelmed. "This song is me opening that conversation in honesty to say that it's true what the Scripture says, that He is strongest in our weakness," Trevor told us. "The reassurance of His Word and His promises are true, regardless of how we feel or our circumstances."
"Flaming Arrows" by Carmen Justice
"Flaming Arrows" marked the first we heard of a new season from pop vocalist Carmen Justice, formerly of 1GN. The song itself addresses some of the anxiety that accompanied that transition for her." I was dealing with a lot of anxiety about my music career, I had a lot of sickness in my family and just so many things to be anxious about," Carmen shared in an interview. "The song was birthed from the passage in Ephesians 6 which says 'take up the shield of faith with which you can extinguish the flaming arrows of the evil one.' And that was super comforting to me." "Flaming Arrows" serves as a fight song for anyone in a similar position.
"Sleepless Nights" by Memphis May Fire
Hardcore giants Memphis May Fire have always been steering by the steady faith of lead singer Matty Mullins (who has also released exceptional solo work in the past four years). When Matty experienced a debilitating anxiety attack, he quickly turned it into a chance to better relate to fans, writing a song that serves as a prayer from the heart of paralyzing panic. "I thought I was dying. I thought I was having a heart attack. Now that I have experienced it I can relate so much more to a lot of the fan mail that we get," Matty shared in an interview with Loudwire in 2014, the year the song released on their album Unconditional.
For more songs that offer solace in the face of battling anxiety, you can check out our For Moments I Feel Faint playlist on Spotify.
Associate Editor Mary Nikkel’s love for writing, photography, videography and rock and roll have all been bound together by her love for Jesus, leading to her role with NRT. Her favorite things include theology and Greek language studies, obscure Nashville coffee shops, all things related to the work of J.R.R. Tolkien and pushing the boundaries enacted by societal norms. She blogs at Threads of Stars.
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