I was a person who loved God with all her heart, yet I found myself living a sub-par existence. I spent so much of my time being unhappy. Dissatisfied with life and where that life was headed, you would have thought that I was someone who did not know the Lord.
I used to live in a state of severe anxiety. It hummed through my body like a live electrical current. At times, I found it hard to function and I had to call in to work and stay in bed. I was miserable.
I kept my anxiety to myself for a long time. I didn’t tell my husband (this is when I was still with my husband) or my doctor or anyone else. I just endured it. I thought that I had to pull myself up by my bootstraps and put a smile on my face and act as though everything was fine when the opposite was true.
Because I was a Christian, I thought that I had to hide my anxiety because Christians didn’t get depressed or discouraged or experience anxiety, when I was living out all of the three because of extreme mental and physical abuse that I had suffered growing up and even in my young adulthood. I was good at hiding it from everyone. Especially the anxiety. I pretended like I was happy-g0-lucky and nothing bothered me when I would be under my covers trembling from apprehension and dread.
I was afraid of many things. I was scared of losing everything. I was fearful that my husband would leave me. I was afraid I would lose my job and my car. I was basically frightened of everything. And you know what? I ended up having to live out every one of my fears. I DID lose everything…all of my earthly possessions. That happened three times. My husband left me after thirteen years of a fairy-tale kind of love that most people only dreamed of. I lost my job and ended up homeless and I had to walk away from my car and take only two bags and get on a Greyhound bus to a destination two thousand miles away from my beloved mountains. All of that only exacerbated the anxiety.
In between the homelessness and losing my job, I finally told my doctor about the anxiety and she prescribed medication. That helped, but only for a short while. I was popping pills like candy and shaking like a rabbit.
I prayed for years, but nothing happened to alleviate my suffering. Until the day that I became sick and tired of being sick and tired of living in that hell of panic attacks that lasted all day and through most of the night and jumping at every unfamiliar sound and even the noises that were known to me kept me hopping around like a Mexican jumping bean. I realized that I had to change my way of relating to the world around me, and my thinking in particular.
I had to understand that I had nothing to fear but fear itself. I had blown fear up to such a proportion that it was the size of the world. Fear became my world and I lived in that world like a terrified child that was all on her own.
I started confronting my fears, one at a time. I started with the small ones like the fear of the dark and worked my way up to the biggies. Which was easy in a way because I was having to live with and through my biggest fears. I couldn’t lose my job over again. I couldn’t lose my husband a second time. He was gone. I couldn’t lose everything that I held dear again because that, too, was already taken from me. When I realized that I could be down to absolutely nothing and still survive, that’s when the victories started taking place. I was a survivor and nothing could take that away from me. Because I had ME. And, most of all, I had God.
Oh, yes, God was there. He was just hidden from me to test me. And I passed my test because I did not turn my back on the Lord in all of that time. I sang to Him, even when I had to do it through my tears.
I found a strength within that I never knew I had until it became necessary to find it. I wasn’t a jelly-back soldier. I had the strength and endurance of an emotional Navy Seal. (I know that because I began to watch Navy Seals training videos and programs and mentally went through Hell Week and all of the other training while I was bedridden for eight months from a debilitating illness.)
I used to get down on myself and think less of myself than I should have. But I realized that I was a fantastic person and I started to strut my stuff, even when I did not feel like it. Eventually, though, I did feel like it and my confidence level went through the roof.
You can’t feel good about yourself and be filled with anxiety. That’s impossible. Build up your faith muscles like you do your physical ones and you will become strong. Talk to others about your anxiety and other emotions and they will not grow stubborn weeds in your heart.
Start confronting your fears. Deal with them one at a time and you will find that they become smaller and smaller.
Look at yourself in the mirror and call yourself the beautiful survivor that you are. You are a winner! With God, you are more than a conqueror, as it says in His word.
I won the victory over anxiety and you can, too. With God, all things are possible. (Mark 10:27)
Blessed be the Name of the Lord.