So I’m going to be completely honest: I have anxiety. Really badly sometimes. For me, it started about two and half years ago, and hasn’t left. It’s constant. It varies in degrees and it’s usually not terrible, but I always have a slight nervous feeling at all times. I can’t remember what it’s like to be completely at ease and not be nervous about anything at all. Now, don’t misunderstand me, I’m not always freaking out or worrying about situations, but there’s always something in my life that upsets the peace I would have without anxiety. I know several people who have it worse than I so I try not to complain about it, and I have been blessed enough to not experience any panic attacks for the most part. But I still deal with it. Every single day.
Why? Well, I could probably get a medical diagnosis if I wanted to, get a prescription for some drug and try and forget about it. But I don’t want to. I don’t want any drugs to make it go away. Why? Because I think it reveals something about me, something I’m uncomfortable with.
Anxiety defined is this: “a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome.”
Fear defined is this: “an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat.”
Do you catch that? They’re connected. Anxiety is a more empathetic word for fear. Straight-up fear. It’s seeing a potential threat, and instead of courageously taking it head-on, caving in and worrying that the worst possible outcome will happen. Still, you may feel empathetic towards my situation. “Aw, it’s not your fault you have anxiety,” “Everyone worries sometimes,” “Fear is a natural human emotion,” “A lot of people have anxiety,” etc etc.
Fear is a natural human emotion.
Anxiety is not.
Anxiety is unnatural. It blows things out of proportion, it looks so far ahead that instead of the future bringing hope, it brings despair. Anxiety is obsession with safety. Anxiety is obsession with being comfortable. Anxiety loves stagnant waters. It says “here we are safe, here nothing can hurt us.”
Anxiety is obsessed with safety.
Safety. What’s wrong with that? Nothing inherently. But safety is never meant to be chased after all the time. Obsessing over safety and fearing the unknown is like a living inside a house all your life. We need houses. They protect us from storms, they keep us warm in the winter, and they give a sense of happiness and contentment. But if one of your friends told you they decided to stay inside their house for the rest of your life you’d tell them they were crazy. “There’s so much else to do!” you’d say. “You have so much else to experience, to live for! You’ll miss out on so much!” But the house is safe. The outside is not.
Anxiety is that friend that stays inside. There’s too much risk, too much danger outside. The outside world is something to be feared. But more than that. It’s something to be avoided. And if I let anxiety take over, I stay inside the house. The biggest problem with this?
See, the reason anxiety is such a problem for me as a Christian, is that it reveals who I’m leaning on for support, and who I look to in times of trouble.
Anxiety looks at a situation or event and says “Well, this is probably going to go bad, because you aren’t the best at ABC, and you’ve had trouble in the past dealing with 123, so I suggest we don’t do this thing.”
It leaves out God entirely.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” Phil 4:6
As a follower of Christ, I need to be trusting in my heavenly Father and sending any worries I have immediately to him. When I’m anxious about things constantly, it means I’m worried about them. And if I’m worried about them it means I’m leaning on myself only for support and looking to me, myself, and I in times of trouble. Sure, I may throw a quick prayer in here or there “oh help me with such and such today God, cause I’m kinda worried about it.” But I don’t expect anything to happen, and I’m certainly not trusting him to help me through it. The kind of trust God wants from me is absolute trust and reckless abandon. He wants me to forget about every thing that worries me and lean on him. And when I don’t lean on him and trust him I give into fear, and anxiety rules my life instead of the maker of the heavens ruling it.
And suddenly I chain myself to my golden idol, fear.
Fear has no place in the kingdom of God. No place whatsoever. In 1st John it says that perfect love casts out fear. HIS perfect love. So basically if I have fear in my life and it’s dominating it to the point of anxiety and constant worry, it means one thing. There’s a lack of love.
If I give in to worry and fear, it means I’m not trusting in God.
If I’m not trusting in God, it means I don’t think he’s trustworthy. (simple truth. ugly, but the truth)
If I don’t think he’s trustworthy, I don’t know him as well I should.
If I don’t know him as well as I think I do, I haven’t understood his love.
And when I don’t understand his love, I give into fear.
And fear is the enemy of love.
I know it’s a over-used passage, but I simply adore the verses in Mathew 6 where Jesus tells his disciples not to be anxious about anything. And then he says something beautiful that reveals so much about the Father’s heart for us. He compares our worries to the birds. The birds do not worry about the simple things necessary for life. Why? Because they know they’ll receive them. Why? Because their creator feeds them. Why does he feed them? Because he loves them. And how much more so does he love us?
So no, I don’t want to get a diagnosis about what could be wrong with me medically, or take some drug that might calm me down and smooth out my worries. (Please understand, I do not take all medical problems like this and I understand it is a more serious medical problem for some people) I have the creator of the universe ready to clothe me, feed me, and calm my raging seas within me. Why? Because he loves me. And I need to accept that. And how can I serve any other master when perfect love takes residence? His love is so complete, so full, it leaves no room for anything else to hinder its power.
Trusting in him is the best prescription.
Accepting his love is the best drug.
“Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. 29 He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; 31 but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”