For some, anxiety is a way of life. I see it every day in the decisions we make, in the way we live. It is a delicate balance of emotion, heartache and for me, faith. I have great anxiety over what people think of me, and I tend to take things personally when I really shouldn’t, because it’s not rational. The anxiety I have dealt with often makes me physically ill. The emotional turmoil is just awful, and the side effects can be devastating.
In scripture, the verse from Philippians 4:6-7 is my go to.
6”Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
I have never had trouble bringing my request to God- the trouble I have is letting it go the moment I give it to Him. I just want to hang on, but I have no idea why. Maybe the fear that grips me with my anxiety is too much for me to handle, maybe what I need is some peace about my situation. So I pray for peace, as in the second part of this passage, and like a flood it washes over me. Every single time I pray for peace, I get it.
The real trick for me is recognizing my anxiety before it gets to the uncontrollable point of physical illness and emotional distress. There are times when I actually talk myself down. I will say out loud to myself “Listen- You can handle this. God has a plan, and you need to relax.” Sometimes I sing to myself to soothe my frazzled nerves, my weariness and my doubt.
I remember that in Matthew 11:28-30,
28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
I am to come to Him when I feel heavy with burden. Anxiety is a burden. It is a heavy, heavy burden like a rock sitting on your heart. I cannot breathe. I cannot eat. I feel sick. I want to cry- often I do cry. My emotions are swirling, my heart is beating so fast and my breathing is irregular and loud. I break out into a sweat and I re-play the scene in my head over and over again until I just cannot take anymore. I lash out at people, or I close up like an impenetrable army fort, ready to defend itself against its enemy.
Normally after a day feeling like this, I collapse into restless sleep, I am cranky with my family and I isolate myself from the rest of the world as much as I can. Frankly, I just don’t know what to do with it all.
If this all sounds too familiar and I know for some it does, just remember one thing. God has a plan. He works in mysterious ways, He has a plan and it is good. We do not always understand why we feel like this, and we cannot always recognize it before it gets out of hand. For some of us, it sneaks upon us quickly and without much warning. I am now In the process of learning how to recognize my own personal signs of anxiety. I have learned to meditate on positive prayerful things when I feel the surge welling up inside me- even just a little bit. I sing louder. I pray harder. I stop what I am doing and try to alter my course. I take a good look at my environment and what triggers me. I make changes where I can, and I ask for others to pray for me where I cannot.
Most of all, I listen to that inner voice that whispers to my heart after I pray- “It’s going to be ok Angie. Let Me take this one”. And I let Him.