It hit me all of a sudden, it gripped me, and I couldn’t understand why. My heart started to race, my breathing picked up, and I got a pain in the pit of my stomach. I felt like something bad was going to happen, like I was about to have my life thrown into a tailspin, and yet, there I was, sitting in a chair in my living room as safe as one could be. I looked around and no one seemed to notice that I was being hit with the fist of anxiety. It is after all, a relatively silent thing. You can become pretty good at hiding it all behind a smile because you don’t want anyone to think you don’t actually have it all together. You don’t want to feel like you’re the only one on the block who sometimes feels this way, let alone the only Christian on the planet who has these moments hit them like a Mack truck at an intersection.
I refused to tell anyone how badly I was feeling at times because any time I did I was always met with the platitude of, “Christians don’t have anxiety, they have God.” or “God’s got it all under control so you shouldn’t be worrying.” Or my very favorite, “It shows a real lack of faith to have anxiety.” Now, I’m not talking about worrying occasionally about something, I’m talking about the panic that hits you in the stomach and no amount of talking yourself out of it helps. I know that God is good, that He doesn’t want us to suffer, and that He can deliver us from all anxiety and fear. I know it’s not His plan for us to live in this prison. But I also know that it can be really hard, from the inside looking out, to get this feeling to just go away by talking yourself out of it.
Anxiety and fear are a tool used by the enemy to cripple the children of God so they believe that they are powerless and thus, stay where they are, not brave enough to step out and try the things God is calling them to do. Anxiety calls to mind the ‘what ifs?’, it tells us that bad things are in store if we proceed any further. It’s the voice that tells us that God really isn’t for us, that He’s there waiting for us to mess up so He can punish us. It’s the voice of a liar. Fear of man, fear of failure, fear of a new direction, the list goes on, these are all things that will steal the joy from our journey and the fulfillment of our destiny. Doing things for God will mean confronting these lies head on, even when we feel like running away, we must put one foot in front of the other.
1 Peter 5:7 “Cast all your anxiety on Him for He cares for you”
Lately I’ve been choosing to be more real about the anxiety I feel from time to time. I believe that the struggles we face, we go through for a season and a reason. One of those reasons is to help others who are facing the same thing. I remember hearing the speaker at a conference one time say that if we go through a valley, even if it takes the stuffing out of us, we can choose to let it kill our testimony or we can use it as a platform to help others find refuge in God. I really want to step past the fear and allow God to use my struggle to support others who feel that they can’t go on. Another reason is because I find that if I can talk to someone about the thoughts in my head, it actually doesn’t seem so bad. Memorizing scripture, truth, that you can repeat over and over again will help to redirect your thoughts, bringing peace to your spirit.
2 Timothy says, “For God did not give us a spirit of fear, but the spirit of power, of love and of a sound mind.” Another of my favorites says, “In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety.” In my life I want to accomplish all God has for me, and I want that to be the cry of all our hearts, even those who are right now crippled by fear. Let us allow God to have complete control of all of those anxieties, being completely open with Him and giving Him permission to deal with whatever hurts or events that brought us to this place. Having complete freedom in Him is possible if we’re willing to lay aside our feelings and begin to make a concentrated effort to fill our minds with His words of truth.