I feel my anxiety choking me again. I have avoided writing because I’m not “through” it, but I now realize that putting it out there is part of what I need, and may very well help someone else. I read an OUTSTANDING, vulnerable blog post by a friend this morning and I realized the more we talk about it, the more we heal, the more we are reminded we are not alone. What she writes is short but packs a powerful punch. The last paragraph is what keeps playing over and over in my mind:
“My biggest challenge is to quiet myself in this place – and frankly – I don’t think the quiet will come from climbing a mountain or reflecting by a glacier lake. I think the quiet will come at home, in the midst of the place I circle the drain, where I cannot hide from my fear or anxiety or emptiness or victim mentality.”
“At home…where I circle the drain”…that phrase captures it so completely for me. It sometimes feels like I am on the edge of a cliff. And for some reason lately, I have felt it the most in the quiet of my own home. I put too much pressure on myself to always be “doing.” The one place that has always been relaxing has become the one place that nothing gets done. I feel guilty resting. Like I will somehow be less-than if I don’t live up to my own expectations. It feels like I will never be free from anxiety. But that is a lie. And the truth is, that while anxiety is a powerful thing, it doesn’t hold the power. With every anxious thought I have a decision to make.
The definition of anxiety:
–a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome.
The definition of worry:
–give way to anxiety or unease; allow one’s mind to dwell on difficulty or troubles.
Anxiety is the feeling of worry. And sometimes that feeling surges through my body with no rhyme or reason. Worry is when we give way to it and allow our mind to go to dangerous places. The ONLY way to spiritually quiet the rampant anxiety is to fill my mind with Jesus, to remember his supreme authority over it all, and to rest….”be anxious for nothing…” (Phil 4:6)
Anxiety may be that “thorn in your flesh” that will not go away, and just might very well plague you for the rest of your life. It is definitely a physical battle as well as a spiritual one. But it doesn’t matter. Because the part we need to understand is that it only holds the power when we give way to it, or allow it to consume us with worry. In those anxious times where we feel we might drown from the weight of it, we need to run to Jesus. He has already said, “Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matt. 11:28) Or better yet, just “draw near to him and He will draw near to you!” (James 4:8) Why does this often come as a last resort? Why do we try to do it on our own until the drain threatens to suck us in? For me, it’s fear. Fear that I will be stuck in this pain, in this condition. Fear that He is asking me to do something too hard. Fear that there will be no answers. Fear that I am not good enough to do what He has called me to. But you know what? “For God gave us a spirit NOT of fear but of power and love and self-control.” (2 Tim. 1:7)
I HAVE a spirit of power in Him. I am not alone. It takes self-control. Sometimes I have to get up and physically take inventory, and my whole perspective changes. It is then that I am able to see that He has been there the whole time, it is me who has looked away, who got wrapped up in my own thoughts, just like Peter did as he was walking on the waves. (Matt. 14:30) But when Peter yells, “Jesus, save me!” as the waves threaten to overtake him, it says Jesus IMMEDIATELY reached out his hand and caught him. Jesus never moved. It was Peter who doubted, who instead of gazing upon the certainty of Jesus let the uncertainty of his surroundings consume him.
May we remember to be consumed by the love of Jesus every minute of the day, and not by the surroundings that threaten to steal our joy.
Be thankful. Get outside. Exercise. Eat nutritiously. Take time to breathe. And most importantly gaze upon Jesus. Let your troubles fade into the background. He hasn’t gone anywhere…he never will.