TAKE A WALK IN MY ANXIOUS SHOES

 

Come, reader. Take a walk with me as I reveal the inner workings of my brain when I’m anxious.

6:45 a.m. Is it morning already? Snooze.
7:15 a.m. I am so tired. Snooze.
7:45 a.m. I need to get up soon. Snooze.
8:00 a.m. Great, now I’m gonna be late for work. 

I typically start my days anxious because, if I’m being honest, I’m a morning-person-wannabe. I don’t often feel prepared for the day ahead, regardless of the time I wake up.

After a blur of applying make-up, choosing an outfit, feeding my dogs, grabbing an on-the-go breakfast and kissing my husband goodbye, I rush out the door to head to work.

The anxiety begins. My chest tightens as I spiral into worry about being late and wondering how many red lights I will hit. The anxiety worsens as I start to think deeper… Your morning didn’t go as planned. Why can’t you just wake up on time? You’re not responsible. You got plenty of sleep… you’re just lazy. Your friends were probably awake for hours drinking coffee and doing their quiet times while you wasted your morning. Now, you’re not prepared for your day and you have a long day of work ahead of you.

As I start to think about these questions and believe these lies, the physical effects of my anxiety set in: burning pain in my chest, shortness of breath, nausea, stomach pain. Although I don’t usually experience all of these symptoms at once, they come and go throughout the day.

The thoughts begin again, as if the anxiety is talking to me. What if this pain doesn’t go away? Why can’t you just let go of your anxiety and trust God? Will you ever be able to live anxiety-free?

Lists Can Be Helpful and Hurtful Reminders

As I settle in to work, I glance at my to-do list. My work to-do list seems conquerable, until things get added to it throughout the day. With each added item, my fear of not being able to check everything off the list grows. And don’t even get me started on my personal to-do list. I go about my work day and begin to feel buried under a mound of metaphorical sticky notes reminding me of the things I need to get done later.

  • Grocery shop

  • Do the laundry

  • Finish that book you’ve been reading for 3 months

  • Start that new book that you’ve been dying to read (that all your friends have finished already)

  • Prepare for bible study (you’re the leader, you can’t be unprepared)

  • Set up the lunch meeting you’ve been talking about since May

  • Do the favor you promised your friend you’d do

  • Clean the house

  • Make the dentist/vet/doctor appointment

  • Pay the bills

  • Buy a birthday gift

  • Take out the trash

My work and personal to-do’s combine to form one seemingly unending to-do list. And in the evenings I find myself exhausted mentally more than physically. I usually end up feeling sorry for myself rather than actually being proactive and tackling the things I need to get done. It seems easier to turn to social media or television to escape the anxiousness and the growing demands rather than to face them, even though doing so just pushes the anxiety into tomorrow.

10:30 p.m. I really need to stop watching Netflix and go to bed.
11:00 p.m. I should have been asleep an hour ago.
11:30 p.m. I’m tired, but my mind won’t let me fall asleep.
12:00 a.m. I just thought of 3 more things I need to do tomorrow.

It’s as if my entire day is a collective reminder of how short I fall–one big disappointment. Like I will never catch up and achieve all that I want to achieve each day, each month, each season, each year.

It’s easy for a non-anxious person to say, “Just stop worrying,” or “Worrying is a waste of time.” But those of you who can relate to this blog know that at times, it can feel impossible to halt the worries of life.

It’s Not All Bad News

Reading an account of my average anxiety-filled day is pretty depressing because it seems as though I’m trapped with no way out.

But, here is the good news that I hold onto: Anxious thoughts are not from the Lord, and with Him, I am not alone.

I know that these feelings of guilt and shame are not from God. I know that my anxiety is the voice of Satan feeding me lies about my identity, my worth, my future. He plants thoughts of worry in my head because he seeks to steal, kill and destroy (John 10:10).

Because I struggle with anxiety on a daily basis, I deal with the side effects while also learning how to combat it and fight against my negative thoughts.

God’s Word Can Transform Our Thoughts

One way I’ve learned to combat anxiety and worry is by claiming Scriptural truths over the devil’s lies.

Satan’s lie: There are so many things that could go wrong tomorrow.
God’s truth: “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” Matthew 6:34

Satan’s lie: You’re not good enough.
God’s truth: “…for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.” Psalm 139:14

Satan’s lie: You don’t matter.
God’s truth: “But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.” Matthew 10:30-31

Satan’s lie: You need to try to take control of this situation.
God’s truth: “And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?” Matthew 6:27

Yes, this is a daily battle. But, I am so thankful that I have the Lord on my side, fighting for me. He pours out His love for me each day, drawing me near to Him, ready with open arms to carry my burdens for me because He cares for me (1 Peter 5:7). If I didn’t have God to cling to, I don’t know where I’d be.

If you struggle with anxiety, stress or worry, know that you are not alone. There are people out there that can relate with you, counselors that can help, and remember… God has never left and will never leave your side.

_______

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THE BEAUTY OF SURRENDER

 

Each year, along with making a small list of New Year's resolutions, I like to pray and ask the Lord to give me one word that He wants me to focus on.

Many words passed through my mind as 2015 came to an end, but none seemed right. And, after a while, God brought one to my mind that felt perfect in every way.

Surrender.

After only a few short weeks into January, God has already put this word to the test. My fleshly response is to hold onto all that is going on with a tight, closed fist. My nature is to want to solve and plan and figure out how I can organize the steps of my life. My first response is usually to question and doubt and try to reason.

But, the Lord has been sweetly and faithfully reminding me in His still small voice that His hands are holding the whole word, which includes my world. He is sovereign. He is in control. He is the Almighty, All-Knowing and All-Powerful God. He is bigger than anything I'm going through.

How do I know this? How can I be sure of this? Because His Word says so, and we can trust His promises.

"Cast all your cares on me because I care for you." 1 Peter 5:7

"'For I know the plans that I have for you," declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.'" Jeremiah 29:11

"And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose." Romans 8:28

"For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts." Isaiah 55:9

The Bible is filled with scripture after scripture assuring us that He has a plan for us, telling us that we can surrender our plans to Him, commanding us to trust Him.

Is this easy? No. Is this my first response when something doesn't go according to my plan? Usually not.

I am a human. I am a continual work in progress. Satan will try to get the victory in my thought-life and in my actions. However, the Holy Spirit lives in me and with the Lord on my side, Satan will not get the ultimate victory–I will conquer it. I will close my eyes, take a deep breath and be still. I will open my fists and declare that God has control over my life. I will surrender.

It's a beautiful process.

I am eager to see what He continues to teach me this year. My prayer is that He uses this process of surrendering to draw me nearer to Him and His purposes for my life.