One word. One disorder. One life-long battle.
But, a different meaning for every single person.
Anxiety has been part of my life since I can remember. In middle school, I had anxiety about losing my entire family to a car accident and about forgetting to turn my straightener off and accidently burning the house down (side note: I used to call my house phone, just to be sure that if it went through, my house would still be intact. I know, I’m crazy).
In high school, I had social anxiety. Always worrying about the people around me, how I acted, whether my grades were good enough to get into my dream college, whether the boy liked me that I had already been dating for years, whether I looked as good as the girls I roamed the halls with, whether I was thin enough, whether I was ever good enough; it never ended.
During my first year of college, I thought that I was starting to get over my anxiety. I had just moved away from home. This was it. I was free. I was independent. I had re-kindled the Jesus furnace. I was starting to hang out with good people. I was starting to pray more, read the bible more, and understand myself as a newly single woman. But, it wasn’t enough. It was back to square one.
I had anxiety about not having friends. I had anxiety about not being able to get all of my homework done. I had anxiety about whether or not this college was the best fit for me. I had anxiety about my family dying, again. I had anxiety about our house burning down and my dogs being trapped inside, again. I lived in constant fear.
Anxiety so bad that I would call my parents almost every day, at 19 years old, just to make sure that they were alive. And boy oh boy, lemme tell you, if they didn’t answer the phone immediately I was like a hangry ape without it’s bananas; craziness. What if they got in a car accident? What if one of them had a heart attack? What if they rushed to the hospital and forgot to call me? My hands would sweat. My mind would race. I wouldn’t be able to stop thinking about them until they replied.
Anxiety is a very large part of my life. I’ve given myself panic attacks. I’ve spent late hours in the night searching about all of the diseases I could be dying from. I’ve gone countless nights without sleep because I would live in fear of not waking up. I’ve even made myself believe that the inanimate objects around me were not real. It controlled me.
I am not the only one that suffers from anxiety and I know, people have it MUCH worse than I do. Some may have severe cases and some may have minor cases but, whatever walk of life you are on understand this: you don’t stop here.
Your path doesn’t end here. Your life doesn’t stay as you are now. There is hope.
And that hope, that gift of grace, that mercy, that wonder: that’s Jesus.
I still suffer from anxiety. I have not completely demolished this lil’ stinker that I so desperately wish to get rid of (heck, I got anxiety with this blog post) but I have gotten better and how you may ask?
I stopped putting “I” in the middle of my life.
Because when you truly step back from your anxiety and look at the bigger picture, you see it. You see that the only thing that is separating you from experiencing joy, hope, peace, and grace is “I.”
Anxiety. One word. Seven Letters. But, only one thing separating it: “I.”
And I am convinced that this is no accident because when we put I at the center, we begin to focus on I. Always worrying about what I have to do next, what Ihave to do tomorrow, or a month from now, or a year from now, or who I am, or what I look like, or what I do.
But you are not the focus. It is all about Jesus.
“But Jesus is perfect” “He has no idea what I am going through” “He wouldn’t understand”
He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee (John and James) along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” (Matthew 26:37-39)
So, you mean to tell me that Jesus, the Son of God, was overwhelmed? That he let himself get to that point? That he was just as I am? YES. He understands!
The definition of overwhelmed is actually: to give too much of a thing to (someone); inundate.
So, maybe, just maybe, you’re overwhelmed, controlled by your anxiety, and living out of fear because you aren’t meant to handle what you were given. Maybe God has given you too much of a thing because he wants you to realize that you are not meant to handle it, by yourself.
God wants to have a relationship with you. He wants to hear your prayers and your worries. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7)
Because when you stop putting yourself in the middle, you put God in the middle. And God turns fear into awe, anxiety into peace, temptations into a story and a storm into a swimming pool.
(And I mean one that you can enjoy with floaties and a fruity drink in hand).
There will always be something to worry about. Always something that has yet to be done. Always something to plan for. Always someone that is better looking than you or thinner than you or whatever it may be. But there is also a God that is always seeking, loving, protecting, and waiting to carry those burdens for you.
You know that good ol’ Jansport backpack that you have been carrying full of anxieties about tomorrow, stress about work, people to look like, and things you have yet to do? Throw it away and never look back because “tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matthew 6:34). And truth be told, we were never meant to carry the weight on our own two shoulders (too bad rolling backpacks are no longer in style).
God has a plan and that plan is always better than ours. He begs to listen to you. To carry that weight for you and take on life with you. You are free. You just have to be willing to leave those worries at the door.
You are not a child of anxiety or doubt. You are a child of God.
“So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?” Hebrews 13:6