To some of us, it looks like random moments and thoughts that feel like worry. To some of us, it’s a panicked way of life. It speaks quietly at first, with racing thoughts that just can’t be tamed. It sweeps in with a false sense of control. It becomes the normal way of life until it begins to raise its voice. And suddenly you realize you’re absolutely not in control, and you’re not sure how it happened or where to go.
I pushed against it for years, but very intentionally for the past year. I believe that Jesus is enough for my every need, so I felt like I must have been doing something wrong to still be going through it. Experiencing anxiety felt like the opposite of trusting Him, and I fought allowing it to be a part of who I was. I heard examples of kids in therapy creating stuffed animals for their anxiety and becoming friends. And I wondered: how can that be what God wants? To accept a tactic of the enemy – fear – to be a part of the body made in Christ’s image? No way.
But the truth is that I am merely a reflection of Christ. Made in His image. I am not Christ. The longer I fight the pieces that inevitably come at me from living in the world, the more energy I spend fighting and losing and pretending I am God.
Until I accepted anxiety as a fact and a reality, I couldn’t truly allow Jesus to save me from it. I wonder how many of us are tired of fighting. How many of us are spending our energy denying what’s been coming at us, trying so hard to focus on Jesus, but somehow… He seems further away?
I’ll guess you’re like me, and you don’t want to be a part of the same things the world goes through. We are in the world, and not of it, right? So we shouldn’t struggle the same way as everyone else.
But what if it’s God’s kindness that we all struggle?
What if it’s the mercy of God that we are facing the same kind of reality?
The longer we convince ourselves we are alone, we miss it. God is giving us the opportunity to not wander around the earth truly feeling nuts because no one else gets it.
People do get it. But we’re afraid to own it. To ourselves and to others, because we are convinced it doesn’t seem like something our God can be a part of. However you want to label it. Whether it’s a medical diagnosis or just a part of your thought pattern, we find ways to separate God from the parts of us we think He doesn’t like.
But the fullness of God can only inhabit when we admit that we, on our own, are not already full.
We are anxious. We are fearful. On our own.
But with Him, we are strong, courageous overcomers.
And yet, the pain follows, doesn’t it? Breath seems to escape us and thoughts race and heart rates increase.
Instead of hiding and convincing ourselves that if we were truly free, we wouldn’t have to experience this stuff – God’s begging us to step into the true freedom of accepting everything He is and everything we are. We cannot escape reality by denying it. But we can step into true freedom by accepting the Truth, the One who sets us free.
For so long I wondered why it seemed His strength didn’t cover my weakness in this area. He promised me that He would be enough for the places I couldn’t measure up, and I just didn’t see that happening.
But what if anxiety isn’t a weakness He’s looking to make strong?
Anxiety leads us to search for peace.
Anxiety reminds us we don’t have it all together.
Anxiety reminds us we are not the ones in control.
The Bible’s command for anxiety is not to seek strength or courage or to push through.
It is to pray.
And to be thankful.
It provides the opportunity to seek the true gift of Peace.
“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” [ Philippians 4:6-7]
I know it’s not black and white. I know my experience may not be what you’ve experienced. You may not be functioning. You may be so unsure if it’s even God’s plan for you to live through it all.
I’m not an expert. All I know is that too many of us are weary. And I’m afraid too many of us are missing the Peace that is available to us because of what we’ve been told or maybe what what we’ve convinced ourselves of. But our God is a right here and now God. He is not pushing you to be strong or to figure it out. He’s gently reminding you today that you have access to the One who does have it figured out. And just maybe, the thing that you think is bringing you down, could be the same thing that elevates you to a nearer and deeper place. A place of intimacy and depth and need. It feels ugly because it’s desperate, but to Him, it’s perfect. And maybe the thing we’ve been begging Him to take away is the very space He’s hoping you’ll lean into, because it creates more opportunity for you to need Him.
So let His perfect love cast out fear, as you invite Him in.
“My soul quietly waits for the True God alone
because I hope only in Him.
He alone is my rock and deliverance,
my citadel high on a hill;
I will not be shaken.
My salvation and my significance depend ultimately on God;
the core of my strength, my shelter, is in the True God.”
[Psalm 62:5-7 The Voice]