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Saturday, January 11, 2014

The "A" Word...Anxiety

Last night was awful.

I have mentioned a time or twenty that I suffer from anxiety and I worry almost constantly.

Mostly about my kids.

Last night our 3 oldest (ages 8, 7 & 6) went to spend the night at their grandparents' house.

It hit me as I was tucking in the youngest 3: The house feels so empty when any of them are missing.

I know they are safe and loved at my in-laws', but it just feels wrong that all my chicks aren't under my wing.

So, I laid down in bed and tried to distract myself by reading, and I was doing okay until I did one final scroll through Twitter and saw a Tweet from our local news: "Complaint details fatal torture of 4 year old."

And I lost it.

I mean, it's not like I [rationally] believe anything will happen to my kids while they are away, but the thought of a little guy suffering at the hands of an evil monster ruins me. Add that on top of me missing my kids like they're in Africa, and I was a heaping mess. The weight of missing them and always fearing for their safety was just too much in that moment.

Plus, everything is always worst at night when it's dark and all the normal sounds of the day are quiet.

I prayed to God, telling Him what a wreck I was (as if He didn't know) and asked Him to either remove the oppressive feelings from me or help me get past them.

Then I remembered something my dad used to tell me when I was little and would cry that I was afraid of the dark: He'd say, "There's nothing there in the dark that wasn't there in the light."

And the same idea could be said for how I was feeling.

Whatever this nameless, faceless "thing" I was fearing...is inside me. It's in my head. I'm fearing something that hasn't even happened. And may never. I am giving life and power to something that does not even exist!

And I thought, "Nothing has changed outside of me. It's all still the same. The sound of the furnace kicking on and off, the sound of Joe sleeping soundly next to me, the sounds of our youngest rustling in his crib...it's all still the same. The only thing different is inside of me. In my head. Something intangible and not real."

That thought was an eye opener.

How much energy am I giving over to something that isn't even there?

How much time am I wasting on feelings and emotions for something that hasn't happened and probably never will?

If you struggle with anxiety or worry, I hope you don't misunderstand what I'm saying. I'm NOT saying it's as easy as "Okay! I'm going to stop worrying now!" And *POOF* you stop.

No.

But realizing the fear is in control when it shouldn't be and when it isn't even real was huge for me.

Once I put my finger on the truth that this overwhelming, all consuming anxiety was in my head and arguably something I could agree to let affect me or not, I was empowered.

And I know it was God.

There are many verses that say not to worry and how God has not given us a spirit of fear...but I want to focus on one of those verses: "For God did not give us a spirit of fear but of power and of self control. (2 Timothy 1:7, NET) or the NIV version, "For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline." (Emphasis mine)

So God has not left us powerless to deal with this struggle. I can't do it on my own, but I know I can with His help.

With his Power.

And it reminds me of the verse that I shared in my last post: 2 Corinthians 12:9 "My grace is sufficient for you. My power is made perfect in your weakness" (Emphasis mine).

Fear is one of my weaknesses. And God may not take it away, making my path that much smoother. Instead, He may choose to let me weather the storm, but with His guidance and using His strength--His power.

If you suffer from anxiety or worry, know you are not alone. Daily I struggle with it. It varies in degree or in severity, but it's always there. We are not powerless! We are not destined to worry our lives away, always waiting for the other shoe to drop, afraid to really live because something horrible may happen.

It is a relentless bully that pounds inside my head and tries to destroy my peace. It fills my thoughts with unspeakable visions of what could happen and causes my body to go into fight or flight response...when nothing has even happened!

There is hope. It starts with prayer and asking God to remind you He is in control and He has your back.

Then read.

Fill your mind with His Word, with His reminders that we are not to fear and that we don't have to because--with Him and His power--we can be free from worry and anxiety.

I pray for all of us that we can be freed from worry and anxiety.

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