I’m writing about a topic that I feel to some extent seems to be taboo in Christian circles, however, I know many people suffer from anxiety either in bouts or chronically. I know this because when I’ve opened up to others and others have shared their struggles with me.
During the first part of February I experienced a high level of anxiety, unlike any kind of anxiety I’ve experienced before. I was having anxiety attack symptoms which landed me in a doctor’s office. He suspected anxiety and shared breathing techniques with me. I’ve always thought of myself as pretty good at handling any situation thrown at me. I’ve lived in foreign lands where I had to adapt and learn how to live there, I’ve lived in places that are seen as affluent and lived in places that are seen as rough, in rural settings and in bustling cities. The learning curves and changes have been steep and with the Lord’s help, I’ve climbed the mountains. So it surprised me when I began traveling down an anxiety path. What did I have to be anxious about? I’m living in the USA – isn’t that like Disneyland? I have everything I need. What was it? I started to list big stress events in our lives in the past few years and it was page after page. Hmmmm. At the time David was preparing to go on a 12-day trip, his health suffering from ameba and what not, Jonah’s asthma was flared up and Joshua couldn’t shake a nasty cold. Still, isn’t that normal stress? The anxiety was wreaking havoc – chest pain, pain in the left arm, not able to stay asleep at night, itching feeling, shaky, tingling, cold hands and feet, looking at everything as a potential life and death scenario. Then it hit me, I can’t handle all this on my own and I didn’t want to be medicated. So what to do, where to turn, how to deal with this. During my quiet devotional time, I continued to be directed to verses about anxiety. In Psalm 55:4-8 David was in the midst of a panic attack, in Habakkuk 3:16-19 Habakkuk was experiencing anxiety symptoms. In Psalm 77, Asaph’s experiencing anxiety. So I shouldn’t be ashamed that I was experiencing anxiety symptoms.
Then I read other verses and carried them around with me so when I experienced heavy anxiety, I could recite them over and over, breath, repeat.
Phil 4:4-9 Always be full of joy in the Lord. Don’t worry about anything, pray about everything, Tell God what you need and thank Him for all He’s done. If you do this, you’ll experience God’s peace. His peace will guard your heart and mind. Fix your thoughts on what’s true and honorable and right. Think about things that are pure, lovely, admirable, excelled and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned from me, heard from me, saw me doing and the peace of God will be with you.
1 Peter 5:7 Give all your worries and cares to God, for He cares about what happens to you.
There were many other verses I could list that I also meditated on.
Even with Habakkuk being anxious, he chose to rejoice in the Lord. He saw the crops fail, cattle dead, yet he pens when I feel as if every problem is closing in on me, I need to break free by spending time with God. My problems will pale when I view them in the Light of His Presence. He enables my feet like the feet of a deer, enabling me to go on the heights. (Hab 3:16-19)
We went with our church to Colorado in June. During our time there we saw these mountain goats run across the road and climb up a sheer rock face on the other side onto a ledge high off the roadway. I was amazed at watching them because it didn’t seem possible for these large goats with what looked like hard, smooth hooves to climb something that looked like vertical, smooth, solid rock; yet they did and they didn’t slip. My mind instantly was transported to that image as I read from Habakkuk.
This morning as I read from Jesus Calling, the author penned, “Anxiety wraps you up in yourself, trapping you in your own thoughts. When you look to Me and whisper My Name, you break free and receive My help. Focus on Me and you will find Peace in My Presence.”
By spending time with the Lord, praying, asking others to pray and by God’s grace, I’ve been able to receive peace and for the anxiety symptoms to subside. I’m so grateful!