Anxious For Nothing
This is a hard thing to admit, but I’ve been kind of a hot mess lately. Alyssa’s Dear Anxiety letter last week? That was for me. I generally think of myself as a fairly calm and rational person, but occasionally a bout of anxiety will come out of nowhere and just about knock me off my feet.
Last week, after spending several days on the couch fighting bronchitis and the flu, followed by a bad reaction to my antibiotic (really wish I would’ve just visited Amber’s Medicine Cabinet), I suddenly started experiencing a tingly, numbing sensation in my arms and legs. Along with this came an overwhelming feeling of anxiety that I just could not shake. I’m not just talking about the normal stress that comes with an overloaded schedule or a stack of unpaid bills. I’m talking about a mind-numbing, terrifying feeling of impending doom.
Of course I was allowing my mind to dress rehearse tragedy. Despite a visit to my chiropractor and a spinal x-ray that offered a perfectly logical (and treatable) explanation, there was an insidious and growing inner fear that my body had been overtaken by some debilitating disease and I would surely be in a wheelchair by summer. This fear would broadside me at random times all through the day, and I would begin trembling inside to the point that I could no longer discern what was real and what was imagined. I had completely lost my appetite, so I’m sure the low blood sugar was only adding to the anxious, shaky feelings.
Usually when I experience something like this, I keep it to myself. Probably some irrational fear that saying it out loud might make it real. But this time I decided that talking about it might actually diminish some of its power. I talked to Alyssa about it, knowing she could relate because this is a battle with which she is very familiar. She describes it as feeling like you’re on the outside looking in. It can be a beautiful day filled with good things and yet there’s this feeling of dread and anxiety that keeps you from entering in and fully living it.
When I shared what I was feeling with my son, he made the interesting observation that this fear of being paralyzed was causing anxiety … which is paralyzing. Hm. How very true. I am not physically paralyzed. Even on my worst day I could still walk and climb stairs and stand and sit. But the FEAR was paralyzing my mind, my ability to work and plan and dream and create. An even bigger tragedy, if you think about it.
I know I’m not alone in this. Anxiety is one of the main reasons people seek counseling. I see it and hear about it all the time. I just had not really experienced it firsthand this intensely… until last week. When all the coping tools and strategies I offer my clients seemed to fall limp and lifeless against the power of my fears, I came to realize something. Anxiety is an attack of a deeply spiritual nature. The fight for peace when you’re feeling downright panicky is a battle the enemy of your soul does not want you to win.
But you know what?
God’s Word lives in your hearts, and you have won your battle with the evil one.
1 John 2:14
There is one who will lie to you and tell you terrible things are going to happen and you’ll be all alone and incapable of handling them. And then there is One who speaks Truth, who tells you He will never abandon or forsake you, that His strength will be made perfect in your weakness. He reminds you that you have not been given a spirit of fear, but of power and love and a sound mind.
This all comes down to a battle between truth and lies. Which will I believe?
I choose to trust His plans will prevail and His plans are GOOD.
So today – I choose Truth. I choose faith over fear. I choose to shape my worries into prayers and leave them at His feet. I choose to give thanks for this beautiful, fragile, amazing life I’ve been given. I choose to trust that my God is bigger and SO much more powerful than this spirit of fear and His plans will prevail and His plans are GOOD.
Who’s with me in this? Are you struggling with fear and anxiety that threatens to rob you of your life-giving joy? Can we just call it what it is … a pack of lies … and pull together to walk in truth? That may have been my story last week, but this week the truth is setting me free.