I’ve never thought of myself as a person who needs to be in control. In fact, I fancy myself a pretty laid back mom, with the occasional exception, of course.
Years ago however, life felt very out of control, leaving my head and heart spinning from the moment my eyes opened in the morning until they closed at night. With a newborn and two young kids, a traveling husband, and after school activities, I was at home a lot.
As many new parents do, I quickly went from introverted to isolated while my claim to being the “chill parent” disintegrated. Somewhere along the way I started to do everything in
my power to protect and manipulate our schedule to fit my needs.
Instead of dealing with my growing anxiety, I tried to simply manage it. I was ashamed of feeling out of control while simultaneously grabbing for it. I would often tell myself to “just breathe,” while questioning my faith with every exhale.
It finally became too much while we were on vacation. After a mild series of panic attacks, I decided then and there to stop the home remedies and visit an actual counselor. This has been the very best thing I've done in my adult life short of marrying my husband and having our sweet children.
This is what she told me:
ACKNOWLEDGE ANXIETY FOR WHAT IT IS.
I mean, y'all. If you are suffering with anxiety of any kind, even feelings of stress and overwhelm you don't think is anxiety, listen up. I am giving away free therapy today.
Stop trying to fight it.
We have to deal with it. Say to yourself, "I am struggling with anxiety in this moment, but I know it’s going to be okay." Stop trying to figure out why you feel like you do and simply acknowledge it. This was the most problematic habit for me to kick, but she pointed out that the questioning only serves to make anxiety worse. I have found that to be more than true for me.
Dealing with anxiety does not make you a "bad Christian." In fact, I believe many people of the bible dealt with it. David reeled in the Psalms, asking God why his enemies were prospering. Moses certainly felt anxiety while dealing with unruly (and forgetful) people.
If anxiety was not a problem, Paul would not have felt compelled to address it by saying, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)
God is absolutely for you, but I am afraid that as long as we are alive we will be dealing with overwhelm, stress, and - you guessed it - anxiety. In his graciousness, however, he has given us tools and people to deal with it, so let’s do it. You are not alone, and need not carry shame. God graciously puts people in our lives to surround us, pray for us, and encourage us. And sometimes, as in my case, that person is going to be a counselor or even a doctor. And, friend, that’s okay.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:11-13)
He has plans for you, even in your anxiety. Draw near to Jesus, seek him and you will find him, saturate your life with scripture and worship and prayer. But above all, lay your anxiety down again and again, without fear, without shame, without regret. Name it in front of your savior and let his unsurpassable peace enter in to every nook and cranny of your life. Start today.