I am not alone: Opening up about overcoming anxiety

16144727_623672401162389_2096027965_n“Even strong young lions sometimes go hungry, but those who trust in the Lord will lack no good thing.” –Psalm 34:10

The feeling starts in my stomach. Imagine an internal hand mixer working over your midsection. It then moves up to my chest and suddenly I have become very aware of my heart rate. I can feel it pulsating behind my rib cage. At the same time, my palms get clammy and it becomes very hard to focus on the task at hand. I always ask myself, “Why I am I feeling this way? There is no reason to be nervous right now, no reason at all. Seriously, why do I feel like this?” The truth is that this frightening feeling will shortly leave, but then comes the self-shaming and feeling like an utter failure for being anxious over nothing. The wounds of beating myself down seem to stick around and so does the fear of feeling this way again.

For those of you who know me well, you probably already know that I have always been a little nervous Nelly. It seems like from the time I exited the womb I have always found something to worry about. My parents did not mold me to be this way nor did I even want to walk this path, it just kind of happened. I honestly am not sure why.

My major fear factors include my husband and brother dying while on duty (this one lingers often), facing failure of any form, and disastrous weather. It also is smaller things like feeling trapped in a room that can cause me to feel distressed. I dislike sitting in the middle of a row of seats and being surrounded by a large crowd of people. I usually place myself on the outskirts near the exits. It also kills me when I know I have said the wrong thing and might have hurt someone’s feelings. I have trouble letting things like that go.

At this moment you might be thinking, “This kid has nothing to worry about, if she only could understand just how wonderful her life truly is.” Whammy, here comes another, the fear of being judged/misunderstood/looked down upon, etc. I pressure myself into believing I have to perform exceptionally in all that I do. I never want to appear uneducated or awkward in any way. Change makes me squirm and so does not having a plan. Moments of sheer panic, for me, can come completely out of know where and be triggered by absolutely nothing. It can happen at the most random times; in public, alone, while driving, on the phone, etc. I will become nervous for no apparent reason. It sounds bizarre and I myself feel crazy for feeling this way, but if you have ever experienced anything this before I am sure you can relate.

Throughout these moments of fear, satan shoots shards of ammo at me in the worst way possible. he pushes me to feel every inadequate in my relationship with the Lord. There have been times when I have believed that because I struggle with anxiety it must mean my trust in the Lord is not strong enough. As if there were an imaginary scale that measured my fear against my faith in God. This is such a bogus falsehood.

It is easy to paint yourself into a portrait of the person you want to be. I do it all the time and have learned “fake it til you make it” attitude is all a façade. No matter how much you try and pretend that all is well, there is still a small voice deep inside yourself  saying, “I am so scared right now. I feel so alone. I am hurting and all I want to is be held. All I want is for someone to tell me that I am going to be okay.” Feeling abandoned in fear diminishes one’s self-confidence and creates internal chaos.

So, how can all of us escape these fleeting moments of fear and what is the magic formula for life without worry? The media will suggest meditation and mounds of green tea. Personally, I do not feel like emptying my mind and putting my faith in something packaged in warehouse. Jesus is the only one who I believe can relieve our anxiety. He is our way out. I know it sounds generic on every level and such is such a typical answer, but I do not feel like I have apologize. His résumé speaks for itself. His intense healing is overwhelming. Even when He does not have to prove His power He does, over and over again.

I am still the same girl who can easily I become drenched in anxiety within a matter of seconds, but I am also not bound by this fear. How I feel does not define who I am nor my relationship with the Lord. When I was born Jesus never sent a lightning bolt to strike me down with worry and allow me to wrestle with anxiety for the rest of my life. He does not act in this way, especially towards His children. However, He did create a sensitive spirit within me and wire me to be ultra expressive in my emotions. I am uniquely designed to be constantly in touch with how I am feeling within both my head and my heart. These attributes were born in me to build up the Kingdom. Yet, can you see how satan could slowly alter these attributes into anxiety?

The verse I opened with is one that I found only a few days ago. Again it says, “Even strong young lions sometimes go hungry, but those who trust in the Lord will lack no good thing.” –Psalm 34:10. This promise is plugged with so much power, starting with the fact that God is calling us strong. He refers to us as lions, such beautiful and brave creatures. However, we are not just any type of lion, but young lions, which explains that we are inexperienced and have a lot to learn. There is no need to portray oneself as altogether amazing all the time. Though we are strong and young we too have our weaknesses. We sometimes go hungry. The issue here is not just an empty belly, but a hunger for something bigger. We all are in need, not in want, but in need of certain things. We hunger for healing, purpose, comfort, rest, financial stability, protection, freedom, second chances, feeling whole again, and ultimately Jesus. We were made to crave Christ. These are all the “good things”.

Fear can suffocate us all slowly and painfully. I fight anxiety every day, I have for years, and I know that I am not alone in this battle. As I face the combat zone, my needs are still being fulfilled because I am fighting against the enemy to trust in the Lord evermore. My fighting style may not look like an aggressive brawl. In fact, it looks a lot like tears, breathing out my prayers, and sitting very still. There are good days and then there are very very bad days when the enemy’s attacks are excruciating, but I am still the same strong young lion and God is still the Healer.

It is also important to remember that the Lord has offered you resources right at your fingertips. Do not be afraid to reach out to a trustworthy family member, friend, minister, counselor, or even a crisis center. Sometimes speaking about your anxiety is all the healing one needs. There is no need to feel ashamed for what you are feeling. No man island, you are not designed to do life on your own.

In this moment, right where you are, I encourage you call out to your Savior and surrender all of your anxiety over to Him. Anything that is holding you captive in fear I pray in Jesus name that it will flee. Do not harass yourself with the mental accusations of telling yourself that you are undeserving of the freedom that Christ has to offer you. It is simply not true, He loves you tremendously! Trusting is scary, because it is giving up control, but the relief is like a refreshing rain and you will lack no good thing. I am not alone and neither are you. We can all overcome anxiety one day at a time, together, through Him.

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