On Anxiety

I’ve struggled with anxiety for the past few years. Ironically the more clearly I could hear the gentle whispers of God telling who he made me to be, the stronger I felt the pressure of other people’s expectations.

More often than not, anxiety is breed in the fertile ground between who we feel and know we are, and who people say we should be.

The space that says, you are not enough. You should be more. You should do more. You should do differently. You are too different. You are not worthy. You do not belong. You are unwanted. You are unsuccessful. You will never measure up.

That space.

Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken. Psalm 55:22

Emotions are funny things. They are real. They are valid. They serve a purpose.

But they are merciless masters.

Feelings, are indicators, that can be used to draw us into a deeper and greater connection with others and with God. Unfortunately, we tend to serve them as dictators, which results in isolation, confusion, and anxiety.

Ladies, can I speak to you for a moment? (I’m going to anyways. wink)

Women tend to get things that men just can’t/don’t/won’t. We just do. It’s part of our unique skill set, and one that I’m eternally grateful for. And when we get some big picture stuff? Whew. Look. Out. World.

Ain’t nothin that can stop a woman who knows who she is and what she’s here to do.

Except. Except anxiety.

Anxiety is that voice that creeps in and says, “Really? Are you sure about that? What will they think? How can you possibly? Are you even qualified? What makes you think you are so special?” And so on and so forth.

All of a sudden, that woman who knew who she was, who knew what she was put on this earth to do, who knew what she wanted and could hear the song of her heart so clearly, is stopped dead in her tracks.

Unfortunately, I know this so painfully from experience.

If you were to ask me on a good day who I am, what I’m here on this earth to do, and if I give a flying flip about what people think about it all, I would have very clear and very defined answers for you.

But then, on days like today? All I have are questions. Why aren’t I good enough. Why can’t I succeed at anything? Why am I such a failure. Why am I such an embarrassment. Why? Why? WHY?

As a Christ follower, I’ve learned a startling truth. God is for us. He will never, ever LET us be shaken. The implication then, is that a shaken status is a choice.

I know, I know. No one would choose to feel this way…and yet.

I also know, that in the throes of anxiety, it’s so much easier to wallow in it. To just let the emotions wash over us until they completely take us down. We feel and feel and feel some more, because feeling is so much easier than the work it requires to know and stand unshaken.

Feeling requires zero work. It just happens. Reminding ourselves on an almost minute-by-minute basis some days that WE ARE UNSHAKEN because WE ARE SUSTAINED requires so much more work. And we already feel so exhausted.

I get it, I really do.

The past few days I’ve just felt like the biggest loser. L-O-S-E-R. And the truth is, I know I’m not, I just feel like I am. And it’s easier to stay in the feeling.

But just because I feel scared doesn’t mean I have to be scared.

Just because I feel overwhelmed doesn’t mean I have to be overwhelmed.

Just because I feel angry doesn’t mean I have to be angry.

What I’m describing is NOT about denying your emotions. No, quite the opposite. It’s about recognizing your feelings for what they are – indicators. Your feelings don’t have to define you. They don’t have to dictate your life.

When you know Christ, and you know the person he has created you to be, you become this fully free, fully formed being. You understand a greater plan and purpose and passion for you life. You understand, you.

This understanding is one of the single most powerful forces in the world. A person who knows who they are and why they are here is unstoppable.

That is probably why anxiety is so sneaky. Sometimes it feels like reflection. Or refinement. Or realism.

But it’s not. It’s so, not.

Anxiety creeps in with all it’s sneaky questions and starts by discouraging you.

“Are you sure you are enough?” “Are you sure you are even qualified?”

Then, it starts to disengage you.

“They probably don’t even like you.” They probably don’t even want to be around you.”

Then, it disarms you.

“You don’t know anything.” “You can’t do anything right.” “Your best effort is not enough.” “No one wants you.”

And finally, anxiety’s pièce de résistance, it starts to dissipate your passion, your purpose, and your plan.

“You will never be anything.” “You will never succeed.” “You ARE a loser.” “You were destined to fail.” “You are better off not trying.” “You better play it safe.” “You better be practical.” (Words I believe come straight from the devil’s tongue. There isn’t a single practical thing about Jesus, people, so why are we?)

I believe that we can choose to be unshaken. How? I’m honestly still wrestling with that. I don’t want you to think I’m sharing these notes from a place of perfection, because honestly, this week has been so tough for me emotionally. What I do know, though, is what God has told me. He told me that I can cast my cares on him , and that he will never LET me be shaken.

Right now, I feel shaken by a lot of things. Shaken by my lack of professional success. Shaken by my lack of met personal goals. Shaken by my lack of a paycheck. Shaken by the lack of support from a few people I wish I didn’t care so much about their opinion SO WHY DO I LET THEM GET TO ME???

That sort of thing.

But the truth is, I can acknowledge those feelings. I can live with those feelings. Those feelings can sit beside me every day. But they do not have to define me or dictate my day. Period.

Gosh I wish I had more answers. I wish I could say it was easy. I WISH IT WERE EASY!

All I can say is I’m sorry if you struggle with anxiety too. I’m here. And we are going to be ok. Because there is someone who will and does sustain us. And he won’t ever let us be shaken.

For in the hour of our darkest day
We will not tremble, we won’t be afraid
Hope is rising like the light of dawn
Our God is for us He has overcome

“We Will Not Be Shaken,” Bethel Music

 

post script

There is this old expression. To “keep the wolves from my door” means you have just enough. Just enough food. Just enough money. Just enough to get by.

Wolves have always been used in literature to represent that which is threatening to consume you. Little Red Riding Hood. The Three Little Pigs.

When I was in high school, I read My Antonia by Willa Cather. In it, a story is told about a Russian bridal party traveling by sled that is chased down by a pack of wolves and one sled after another is totally consumed.

Brutal.

I wonder what wolves are chasing you? What threatens your very existence? What do you struggle with that keeps you on the brink of completely going under for the last time?

Most wolves, in literature and in real life, aren’t actual animals. They are a thing. A thought. A person. A fear.

My wolf?

I feel so completely stupid most days. So incapable. So unqualified.

My wolf, is failure.

I feel like a failure as a mom, as a professional, as a blogger, as an aspiring yogi, as almost everything.

Failure is the wolf that I hear howling at my door, filling me with anxiety and keeping me awake at night. So in the past, I’ve run. I’ve hid. I’ve filled my days with easy wins, or  shiny-happy-experiences that mask the fear underneath.

I’m tired of running from the wolves. I’m tired of pretending I’m not home. I’m ready to claim Psalm 55:22 for my life. Let the wolves come. Let them huff, and puff, and threaten to blow it all down. I will not be shaken.

You can tell the wolves I’m home. I’ll be ready for them.

 

4 thoughts on “On Anxiety

  1. My anxious question this week was: if so many others around me are struggling in their relationships and I am the common denominator then am I the problem??
    Lie of the week.

    1. Oh Ann, I can feel that way too. If it helps, I’ve also learned that the areas we hear the most lies about ourselves tend to be the areas where we have the most influence and stand to really be a positive force. Lots of love to you!

  2. I can so relate. The worst part is, the better I get at something, the more I doubt myself. Anxiety consumes me a lot more than I would like.

    Definitely something I need to work on too 🙂

    1. Isn’t that so interesting? I’ve heard that when you don’t try someone, you don’t know what you don’t know, so we can have a false sense of confidence, security, etc. It’s only once we start trying things that we start to see our shortcomings. But the flip side of all this is that the more we try, the more we grown/learn/experience! I guess it’s all in how we look at things. *sigh* I’m right there with you, friend!

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