If you’ve been there, you know the feeling.
You can’t slow your thoughts down. You’re trying your best to control your emotions, but the more you work at it, the worse it gets. You’re trying to breathe, but that’s not going the way it should at all. You’re telling yourself nothing is wrong, but it feels like everything is wrong. Thoughts and reflexes are just spinning inside you and you keep wondering: “What’s wrong with me?”
This is what I wondered, anyway, for two years. It was going on much longer, but I didn’t have the courage or the capacity to name it until a counselor helped me find my way there. The Bible has so much to say about anxiety. And it’s true. It’s real. I believe that the fear that comes with it is just so not from God. He tells us to trust Him and not to be anxious. I’m just afraid that we may have twisted His original intentions for this.
The truth is that because Jesus is enough, we don’t need to be anxious or fear anything. But unfortunately, what we’ve done with these truths is we’ve translated them to mean that when worry or fear or anxiety face us and come our way like a train, we must have done something wrong. We must not have enough faith. We must not have prayed right.
We’ve also believed the lie that accepting help of any kind must mean that we don’t trust in God all of the way.
Anxiety is big, don’t get me wrong. It’s so real. But what I’ve learned is that anxiety doesn’t truly keep me trapped. It may make me feel that way, but there are healthy ways to be reminded that nothing is enclosing me. So maybe it takes a few minutes, maybe hours. Maybe it comes back each day. But we can make some choices to weave in and out. We can drink water, stay away from caffeine, take a walk. Anxiety feels crippling, but I believe it’s hiding an even bigger monster.
Shame is what keeps us from asking for help.
Shame is what tells us we must not be trusting in God enough.
Shame is what whispers, “You’ll never be free.”
Shame accuses of of being a hypocrite, and keeps us from making a difference in anyone else’s life.
Shame uses words like: unloveable, unworthy.
Shame convinces us that no one really cares, and we are alone.
Shame keeps our mouth shut.
Shame is what allows anxiety to keep its hold.
But shame is a liar.
Shame grows in secret. It’s less tangible. Less measurable. But it is constant and it weighs heavy. The world we live in breeds worry and anxiety, but we are learning how to manage, both practically and spiritually. But I’m convinced that unless we allow the truth to break us out of the shame of anxiety, we’ll never be free. Here’s the truth:
“So now the case is closed. There remains no accusing voice of condemnation against those who are joined in life-union with Jesus, the Anointed One.” [Romans 8:1]
“The confidence of my calling enables me to overcome every difficulty without shame, for I have an intimate revelation of this God.” [1 Timothy 1:12]
Unfortunately, so many of us who live for Jesus are drowning because we’re afraid to say out loud what’s happening in our lives. So we let it stay in the dark, where we think it stays safe. But that’s where it drowns us. We defeat shame by bringing it all out into the light.
“But if we freely admit our sins when his light uncovers them, he will be faithful to forgive us every time.” [1 John 1:9]
Read these words slowly and carefully.
The fact that anxiety faces you is not a sin, but your reaction to it could be. We live in the world. Surprise. The world is anxious and busy and fearful. It will come up against us, and that is not our fault. But when it bumps us, we get to choose what we do with it.
We’re gonna mess it up. We’re gonna run to things that we think make us feel better. We’re probably gonna yell at our kids and take it out on our husband. Anger may get the better of us.
And shame would like us to believe that we are now less than. Its voice is so condescending. It’s quiet, but it’s strong.
We have to break the silence. As a church, and just as people. When we say our stuff out loud, shame shrinks. I’m not talking about throwing up a passive aggressive meme on Instagram. I’m talking about a real conversation with a trusted friend. Or taking the leap and finding a counselor. You may be praying all the right things, and our God hears you, and He is your healer. But. You weren’t meant to face this alone.
I know it looks different for all of us. I know it’s not comfy. But I’m telling you, if you are stuck in this anxious cycle and you want out, this is the start. Truly, anxiety isn’t the one holding you captive. It’s the invisible bars of shame that keep us trapped. And because of the blood of Jesus, we have the power to break through.
Have you believed shame’s lie that anxiety is the one that’s captured you? Today’s the day. Stare it back in the face, and push back the invisible prison bars. You were meant to be free.
“Since we are now joined to Christ, we have been given the treasures of redemption by His blood – the total cancellation of our sins – all because of the cascading riches of His grace.” [Ephesians 1:7]