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Anxiety

Anxiety

Today I want to chat with you about anxiety and a particular aspect of anxiety that I believe is tightly tied in with faith.

I have had my share of experience with anxiety. A quick overview of my time with it is a 5-year long journey that hasn’t gone by all that quick. I had my first real, full blown anxiety attack when I was 18. I had been struggling with the beginning stages of insomnia when it hit. I have never felt anything like it. I have been stressed out before and felt anxious, I even remember times when I was little describing feelings to my mom that could only be characterized as anxiety. But I had never felt the chest crushing, lungs gasping, whole body shaking attack experience until the summer after my senior year of high school. And lady, I thought I was dying. I mean despite the feelings of impending doom, I thought I was truly losing my mind, that I had some serious medical cause for these increasingly unbearable symptoms.

Finally, after a few weeks of daily attacks, I went to my family doctor. She did a lot of testing and came to the conclusion that I needed to be put on anti-anxiety medication.

Then I went to a psychologist. He wasn’t so hasty with prescribing medication. He did a lot of neurological tests and suggested I try natural remedies. I am not saying that that is the right solution for everyone, some people are in need of medication, but for me, it was a spiritual and mental issue that could only be masked by medication, never cured. I wasn’t unbalanced hormonally or in need of really any consumable substance.

Possibly, one of the most helpful things my psychologist did for me was tell me that I was not crazy. So, love, if you are reading this today, you are not crazy. You are not alone, you are not forsaken, unloved or unworthy. You may have some things to work through, but we all do. And I know that you know you have things to work through but you are looking at it all right now and there is too much. There is nowhere to begin. It makes you more anxious just looking at it all. You want to run away, hide, curl up in a ball and cry. But darling, you don’t have to fight it. God will fight it for you.

I have spoken with more and more women lately about their battles with anxiety. I have spoken with friends who have friends who are dealing with anxiety. Most of us, have dealt or know someone dealing with anxiety, to varying degrees. The more I speak with people about this, the clearer one thing becomes; anxiety is the grasping for control of things that are uncontrollable.

Many times, when we are anxious, it is because we feel as if things are out of our control. So, we grasp for control. If we cannot control the one thing that is making us anxious, we look for things we can control and over do it.

In my own personal story this has played out. I am anxious about my health and wellness, about aspects of those things which I can’t control such as how and when I die. So, I find the things I can control such as a clean house. I over correct by disinfecting surfaces 3 to 4 times. Washing my hands numerous amounts of times etc. This over correction and grasping for control turns into paranoia. For instance, now I cannot touch food without washing my hands multiple times or lay things on surfaces that have not been disinfected and so on and so forth, spiraling downward until I snap.

Okay, so maybe that is not you. Maybe you are anxious about your family. Maybe you cannot control a lot of aspects about your home life but you can control what things your family does on the weekends. You grasp for control in that area and hold on tightly. Then whenever your family is unable to comply with what you would like to do on the weekends, you spin out of control.

Okay, what about with kids. You have children and you’re anxious because there is so much you cannot control in their lives, their health, maybe their education, their outside influences. So, you grasp for the things that you can control such as their transportation, their diet, their wardrobe and you hold tightly to these things. When someone else transports them or feeds them or they chose what to wear, you lose it because that is all that you had in the world to control and now it’s gone.

A couple weeks ago we spoke about foundations. If our foundation is not the Rock, the one true, unchangeable God, then it will shift and change and we will fall all over ourselves. If my foundation is built on controlling the cleanliness of my surroundings, I am going to be forever unhinged.

So… what? What exactly do we do about this? Well, you are probably not going to like this one bit because I know I’m not crazy about it either. In fact, you’ll probably like it just about as much as we all enjoyed the convos on surrendering and obeying… but, we have to give up control.

We have to open our tightly clenched fists that are holding whatever it is we are trying to suck our security out of and give it to God. Whatever it is that is making you seek control in unhealthy ways… babe, give it up. For me personally, that is looking to God and saying, Father, my life is yours. It ends on this earth however and whenever You see fit. Your thoughts and Your ways are higher than mine (The book of Isaiah chapter 55, verses 8 and 9). You are perfect and so, Your will is perfect. You love me more than I love me. My life is Yours, I surrender it to You.

Some days, speaking that is a lot more difficult than others but I am always filled with a notable peace afterwards. Because you know what the secret is? We are not really in control of anything.

Anything could always happen. When I get caught up in the infinite amount of “what-ifs” in life, this is what I tell myself. Anything could always happen and we can either close ourselves into the corner where we can sooth our worried souls with the one thing we can pretend we control, or, we can trust God.

The other thing I tell myself is, we will cross that bridge when we get to it. That brings me peace because it reminds my frantic mind that I have never come to anything that God did not bring me through. He has always been my help, He has always been my strength. But I cannot know the future, that’s His job. I love the verse from the song “Trust in You” by Lauren Daigle that says, “truth is You know what tomorrow brings, there’s not a day ahead You have not seen, so in all things be my life and breath, I want what You want Lord and nothing less.”

It is true, God knows what is in tomorrow, the struggles, the victories, so He knows how best to prepare us and He will. He always knows how He is going to get us through those tough times. He is not bound by time, He sees the days before we set foot in them and is working in us to prepare us for what is waiting for us. He is our sustenance. He wants to give us the best.

I believe that anxiety in our world today is at an all time high because we can faux-control everything. I mean, think about it. We can change the temp of our house from inside our car. We can control the color of our hair, our diet, we can control how much we know by googling everything. We can control our presence on social media and control what the world sees and what it doesn’t. We can control how we dress. We have the awesome ability to make so many decisions and control so many aspects that when it comes to things that we cannot control like the weather and if people like us, and how they treat us, our health, these things cause anxiety because we are so used to being able to control everything.

My guess is that way back before the tech age when you had to check the weather by going outside and the only people who knew you were the ones you saw face to face; anxiety rates were probably a lot lower. You knew you did not have control over the earth but you probably did stop and admire it a lot more instead of posting a picture of it on social media and hoping people liked what you saw because if they didn’t it probably wasn’t that great in the first place and maybe you should have controlled what they saw a little bit more with just one more filter.… yeah, we live in an anxious time. A time where most of us want to be in control of as much as possible.

So, I believe in order to crush anxiety we must trust God, like actually trust Him, and we must relinquish control to Him. We have to realize that He really is in control and we really are not and then we have to stop trying to be.

“Control Freak” has always been a negative term yet so many of us have slipped into that tendency, myself very much included. And I get it, it would be fantastic if we could know everything, see the future… then we would be… oh wait, then we would be God.

Are we trying to be God? Desiring to be? …Yep. And that shouldn’t surprise us. We are just taking after the mother and father of humanity. When Adam and Eve disobeyed God what they were saying is, we would like to be like God instead of listen to Him. Remember? The serpent said, you’re not gonna die, you’re going to be like God, knowing good and evil. And they were like, yes please, we would like to get on the Most Holy’s level. (The book of Genesis chapter 3).

But we can’t. Even knowing good and evil for ourselves there is only one God, and it is THE LORD. That’s it. Until we surrender everything in us to this fact, we will be anxiously grasping for control and happiness and worldly fulfillment and a million other things that will starve our souls.

If while reading this you realized that you have not given up control to the Creator God, the One who formed you, who loves you, I encourage you to work on it. I know how difficult it is but the peace it brings is so very much worth it. We are working on this together babe, it is a tough one but the beauty is that in relinquishing control we gain freedom and we deepen our relationships with The Lord God, the One who is in control.

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