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Dear Anxiety: You Don’t Get to Win

27 May

Dear Anxiety-You Don't Get to WinThis piece is deeply personal. More than usual. It opens a window into a vulnerable moment and struggle in our lives. But I felt God calling me out of deep depression years ago to tell my stories openly—protectively, but openly. To make sure others know they are not alone in their struggles and to show them the hope that is ever before them if they can just outstretch a hand and a heart. Belief and trust start out tiny. They are a walk and a dance with Christ that are lifelong.

Perhaps you don’t believe in Christ and want to just know what I have to say about anxiety. I welcome you here, but please know my faith informs what I have to say because once I started my relationship with Christ, I never wanted to leave His beautiful heartbeat. It brings me comfort on the darkest of nights.

We believe for better days in our house. We’ve already come so far. But if it weren’t for the journey we’re on watching God’s hand move in different ways, I’d feel so alone, so defeated, so hopeless and helpless. Maybe you’ve been there—or are there—too. Let me pray for you right now.

“Almighty Father in Heaven: You care so deeply to reach into our broken world and war-torn hearts to bring peace, love, hope, and even joy. Show us Your mighty hand! Help us to spread a few fingers toward You in trust, surrendering what we don’t understand, can’t figure out, and feel overwhelmed by, and let us walk in peace with You wherever we are. Let us walk as Your daughters and sons, truly knowing You. Flood us with Your eternal peace, and teach us the liberty of the captives. Set us free, Oh, God! Amen.”

——————————–

We were just about to get out of the van. I was so excited I had wrangled all three kids in time to get a few bagels/salads/soups before arriving to church for Friday Night Fellowship (church). I was peaceful. I even felt a bit victorious. I was on time. And we had a plan. (Neither one of those is my strong suit.)

But anxiety is no respecter of plans. In fact, I think it sets out to knock us back a few notches. Some days I even feel it’s a little power trip that anxiety has—a one-upmanship. Yeah, anxiety and I, we always seem to have our dukes out at each other. I leave some knuckle indents in anxiety’s ugly face, and it has puckered mine from time to time.

It’s okay, though, because I won’t back down.

Not ever.

Because you see: I know Who ultimately wins.

And I’ll let you in on a little secret: It’s not anxiety.

So we were all opening our car doors, imagining what new thing on the menu we might try, when Little Man (9 year old) said this:

“I can’t go to church tonight.”

Um, what? See, ‘cause that made no sense to me. Little Man used to love playing at Friday Night Church. We hadn’t taken him in a while to keep his schedule more clear, less complicated. But he had friends there. He liked to have fun. And what’s more (and here’s where we’re really at with this), ahem:

I needed the night out to be nourished in God’s Word with other women. Anxiety had no right to rain on my parade.

Glued to the car seat and not budging, Little Man started a panic cry-freak. If you haven’t heard a cry-freak before, you are incredibly blessed. I don’t even want to describe it to you. Enjoy the fact you have managed to escape the terror of it.

I asked: “Why, Little Man? Why don’t you want to go to church tonight?”

And out came more cry-freak and this: “Because my friend moved away, my other friend at church doesn’t go, and the teacher won’t understand why I’m so energetic. She won’t get me.”

In that one moment, a thousand hammers slammed into my heart. Not one shy of a thousand. The stream-of-consciousness went something like this:

“Did she ever say something to him [she didn’t]? Was he scolded? Did something bad happen one night? Did something bad happen at school today that triggered this? Oh no! Was it something I said in the past few days?”

And on and on and on it went.

Why?

Because anxiety likes to multiply. It wasn’t satisfied having Little Man’s full attention. Nope! It wanted to suck me under and do swirlies with my sound mind.

So I took a deep breath. I knew resentment came after anger, which came after realizing this was an inflexible thinking moment for Little Man and not an easy fix.

Me: “Has that ever happened to you? Has she been unkind in some way?”

LM: “No, she’s just not going to understand why I am the way that I am.”

Oh, the liar to my soul, to Little Man’s soul, is such a COWARD! In the Light of Christ, that liar melts to ash. The destructive, false arguments fall away. We literally can’t hear the toxic noise anymore once Jesus is invited into the conversation.

I wish I could remember what I said to Little Man. I only remember the parts that were impatient, like: “I ask very few things of you, and I drive you everywhere you need to be. I am the only parent around tonight, and I need church, and you are going to go!”

Maybe to another person that sounds mean. It definitely sounds selfish. But the truth is: Anxiety can be understood and dealt with patiently, but it also must be pushed past to know and learn the victory on the other side.

My main message?

“Little Man, your feelings of panic stink right now. And you’re right. Some people in the past have misunderstood you. But we are going to shove right past these feelings and do what we came for tonight.”

I don’t think that settled him right away, but after a few minutes we were able to go into the restaurant. Later we went to church, and he was so happy that he didn’t want to leave.

We have anxiety moments like this often, sometimes in clusters. They can be set off by a bad experience, sensory overload, focus struggles, not enough sleep, getting sick, not enough sun. Honestly, whatever. I give up trying to always predict or get in front of it. We do what we can to meet those needs, but we also try to cope right through it. When it comes slamming into us, I get out my big weapons.

Want to know what one of them is?

Declarative prayer.

“I rebuke the spirit of fear, anxiety, and OCD, and I bless you with the peace of Christ and a sound mind. May His peace reign over you. Jesus always wins. We are covered by His blood, and by His wounds we are healed.”

2 Timothy 1:7, KJV, Apostle Paul writing

For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

Does that make anxiety bow and run off?

You bet it does! Where Jesus is, anxiety cannot have its way. Does that mean Little Man will cease having anxiety struggles altogether? I certainly pray for that day, but regardless, we have power in the name of Christ, and we exercise that power only through the name of Jesus Who fought and won for us on that cross. The debt is paid.

1 Peter 2:24, ESV, Apostle Peter writing

He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.

And whether Little Man knows full deliverance from anxiety this side of heaven or not isn’t really the point.

He knows to call His Savior,
to hold His hand,
to walk with Him into uncertain places,
and to shine the Light in the dark.

And He knows that ultimately, Bad Guy Anxiety loses. Jesus always wins.

Anxiety was defeated on the cross. One day we will know the fullness of that in the glory of our fellowship with Christ.

For now, we acknowledge the fear,

oh,

but we don’t bow to it.

We slip our scared, small hand, perhaps tentatively trusting, into the warm, strong, loving, powerful hand of Jesus, and we take a walk with Him.

The peace we feel as we walk with our God is such that when we finally turn around, we seChain and foote anxiety standing on the street corner alone and very frail, with no host for its parasitical grasp.

And when we look down,

we see our chains as they were on the day sin and death were conquered through Christ:

Snapped off and fallen at our feet.

Amen and amen!

Isaiah 61:1, ESV, Isaiah the Prophet writing

The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound.

Isaiah 61_1, ESV, Isaiah the Prophet

This blog has been shared at any link highlighted here: Mom 2 Mom Monday Link-UpMake a Difference MondaysPick Your Pin TuesdayWomen With Intention WednesdaysGrace & TruthA Little R & R, RaRa Link-Up, Dance With JesusBlessing CountersCoffee & ConversationSaturday Soiree, Tell His Story, Find Stability, So Much at Home, Faith-Filled Fridays, and Christian Mommy Blogger.

More anecdotal stories about our ADHD and anxiety journey and an everyday relationship with God can be found in Not Just on Sundays: Seeking God’s Purpose in Each New Day (includes Book Club Discussion Questions).

 

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33 responses to “Dear Anxiety: You Don’t Get to Win

  1. Lily Lau

    May 27, 2015 at 3:11 pm

    Couldn’t agree more with you, Bonnie! This post is so rewarding 😀

    Liked by 1 person

     
    • Bonnie Lyn Smith

      May 27, 2015 at 10:40 pm

      Thank you, Lily! I really appreciate you stopping by #EspressosofFaith!

      Like

       
  2. Ruthie (@ruthiegray123)

    May 28, 2015 at 7:30 pm

    Yes, anxiety does love to multiply. And I love 2 Timothy 1:7. Thank you for sharing your testimony on anxiety. One of our worst fears as moms is passing on our negative traits to our children, and I know that’s what you were thinking when he was in that car seat. But we can’t carry all of it, we must let Christ have that burden (and so many others) and fight fear with the sword, such as you so aptly described. Blessings to you!

    Liked by 2 people

     
    • Bonnie Lyn Smith

      May 29, 2015 at 3:04 pm

      Ruthie….yes, such a good word of wisdom. We really do have to let Christ have it. I just have to unclutch my own grimy fingers somedays and make sure I fully surrender. Not always easy but always worth it! Thank you for such encouraging comments! Blessings!

      Liked by 1 person

       
  3. Kelsey Ferguson

    May 29, 2015 at 9:43 am

    Your post was such a blessing to me this morning. Vulnerability is such a powerful thing; it lets women across the country know that they aren’t alone. So thank you for being brave and sharing your story. So many of your words rang true for my own life. Even rebuking satan. My go-to phrase for when I’m feeling overcome by anxiety is ‘Leave satan; the Holy Spirit dwells here.’ It’s a reminder to my heart that I am not alone in this, the Almighty God dwells within me, and that I’m not powerless to fear. I have access to the throne. Thanks, again, for sharing your heart. I hope you have a wonderful weekend.

    Liked by 1 person

     
    • Bonnie Lyn Smith

      May 29, 2015 at 3:17 pm

      Thank you so much, Kelsey! Love what you say when overcome by anxiety! You’re so right…we do remind ourselves of the promises of God. YES…..access to the throne! LOVE it! My heart is absolutely to let others know they are not alone and to shine His light, love, hope, joy, and peace in dark places. If we each take a hand, we can all learn to cope better and get out of those dark places together! Thanks so much for incredible encouragement to my heart! Blessings!

      Like

       
  4. MB

    May 29, 2015 at 9:49 am

    Thank you for sharing some of your story. Declarative prayer is so powerful! So cool to hear another blogger talking about it. God bless you xxx

    Liked by 1 person

     
    • Bonnie Lyn Smith

      May 29, 2015 at 3:20 pm

      MB…I’m so glad you liked my reference to declarative prayer! There is power in the mighty name of Jesus! And so many dark things in this world at stake. Jesus always wins! Thank you so much for coming by! God bless you as well!

      Like

       
      • MB

        May 30, 2015 at 12:05 am

        Amen. “But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16: 33b).

        Liked by 1 person

         
  5. Beth Willis Miller

    May 29, 2015 at 9:59 am

    Thank you so much for this wonderfully open, honest, and transparent post…many blessings to you and your sweet family!

    Liked by 1 person

     
    • Bonnie Lyn Smith

      May 29, 2015 at 3:23 pm

      Thank you, Beth, for such a kind blessing and your sweet remarks! Blessings to you as well! Thanks again for stopping by #EspressosofFaith!

      Like

       
  6. castyourworries

    May 29, 2015 at 10:14 am

    I love the word picture of anxiety multiplying. I sometimes call it the worry-go-round…that once you step into worry, you just spin and spin until it either goes away (which doesn’t often happen!), or you call to mind a prayer like you mentioned or Scripture.
    And I have experienced the cry-freak! Another great description 🙂 Thanks for being vulnerable.

    Liked by 1 person

     
    • Bonnie Lyn Smith

      May 29, 2015 at 3:24 pm

      Oh…the worry-go-round! Yes, CastYourWorries. That’s a perfect description! I’m so sorry you have experienced the cry-freak! Such a horrific sound! Blessings to you, and thanks so much for coming by and leaving your comments!

      Like

       
  7. blessingcounterdeb

    May 29, 2015 at 5:17 pm

    Bonnie, I like that you said, “protectively, yet openly.” I feel that way as I share my stories. Some things that have an impact on my life, aren’t my stories to tell. Others . . . well the details don’t benefit anyone. Thank you for sharing your heart and the ways God is working on, in, and through you. It’s been a blessing getting to know you a bit this week. Enjoy a wonderful weekend.

    Liked by 2 people

     
    • Bonnie Lyn Smith

      May 29, 2015 at 8:21 pm

      Deb….your continued encouragement has been an incredible blessing to me. I completely agree with you….it is wise of us to use caution and only tell the stories He wants us to tell…those that are our own and that we get the “okay” from Him for. Blessings to you, and have a great weekend as well!

      Like

       
  8. Tai East

    May 30, 2015 at 1:47 am

    We’ve all had moments when anxiety and worry strikes and wins, but thank GOD that HIS PRESENCE and power within us is greater and ultimately the victory is ours.

    Bonnie, this is a great post and it’s always a blessing to visit with you.

    But this prayer truly brought me to tears. —> “Almighty Father in Heaven: You care so deeply to reach into our broken world and war-torn hearts to bring peace, love, hope, and even joy. Show us Your mighty hand! Help us to spread a few fingers toward You in trust, surrendering what we don’t understand, can’t figure out, and feel overwhelmed by, and let us walk in peace with You wherever we are. Let us walk as Your daughters and sons, truly knowing You. Flood us with Your eternal peace, and teach us the liberty of the captives. Set us free, Oh, God! Amen.”

    Thank you so much for sharing this! Love you and I’m praying for you! Infinite blessings to you, Love! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

     
    • Bonnie Lyn Smith

      May 30, 2015 at 10:43 pm

      Tai, I love seeing your sweet face on my wall! You always bring me so much strength and encouragement! I love the prayer too. I hope others will read this here and pray it over themselves. Nothing better than talking to God! Much love to you!

      Liked by 1 person

       
  9. joanneviola

    May 30, 2015 at 7:03 am

    Wonderful post, Bonnie. I have been known to use & recommend 2 Timothy 1:7 time & time again. No, not backing down. Thank you for encouraging me this morning! May you have a wonderful weekend!

    Liked by 1 person

     
    • Bonnie Lyn Smith

      May 30, 2015 at 10:46 pm

      Joanneviola: Thank you so much. As soon as I discovered 2 Timothy 1:7, I learned to declare that promise over myself and others time and time again. It’s so beautiful! Hope you’re having a wonderful weekend as well! “Kindhearted” still strikes me every time I see your photo. 🙂 Blessings!

      Like

       
  10. Gayl

    May 30, 2015 at 10:07 am

    Great reminder that Jesus has already won the victory. Anxiety will never keep the upper hand. Yes, we still face it sometimes, but we can run to Jesus and claim His power to release us from anxiety’s hold. He is ready and waiting with open arms even when we are reluctant. Blessings to you today and thanks for visiting my blog 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

     
    • Bonnie Lyn Smith

      May 30, 2015 at 10:48 pm

      Gayl…so nice to see you here! I’m glad to have discovered a new site to frequent when I see you on the link-ups! 🙂 I love how you summarize the message here. I have to remind myself frequently that Jesus has already won every victory. We need to believe that with everything that we have and everything that we are. Blessings to you!

      Like

       
  11. Christi Gee (@ChristiLGee)

    May 31, 2015 at 4:53 pm

    I finally made it over for a cup of espresso and wow, you have brewed a whole pot!

    First, thank you for the beautiful dose of encouragement you left earlier in the weekend on TheCheerioTrail and for the shoutouts via Twitter. What a giver you are!

    There is so much deep truth and delicate balance in this piece. I love that you know when to be tenderhearted and when to push forward with tough truth with your little man.

    “Openly, yet protectively.” Amen.
    Acknowledge the fear, but don’t bow to it. Preach it, sister.
    And declarative prayer. What a way to word it. I love that!

    I am so looking forward to getting to know you better through what you write and seeing your kind face in the blogging neighborhood. Thanks for the espresso. This will keep me thinking for a while!

    Embracing the Journey!
    Christi

    Liked by 1 person

     
    • Bonnie Lyn Smith

      June 1, 2015 at 2:07 pm

      Christi, wow! I read this multiple times! So encouraging! I’m loving your ongoing espresso analogy. LOL! Girl after my own heart! Thank you for unpacking this even more for me. I really appreciate processing it with others and hearing how it came across! Discovering you has been a treasure…looking forward to “chatting” more over blogs each week! Blessings!

      Like

       
  12. Ariëlla

    June 1, 2015 at 9:54 am

    Thanks. I am think about your message in the blog now. I struggle with Anxiety ( linked to ADHD).

    Liked by 1 person

     
    • Bonnie Lyn Smith

      June 1, 2015 at 2:10 pm

      Ariella: Thank you for coming by Espressos of Faith. My son’s anxiety is also linked to ADHD. I hope you find some relief. I’ll remember you in my prayers. Blessings to you!

      Like

       
  13. Sharon

    June 1, 2015 at 1:47 pm

    You know, it’s like anxiety is almost another language. Because the people who don’t suffer from it can never fully understand what you’re talking about. I know what you’re talking about. Anxiety is a terrible taskmaster, alternately revving me up and paralyzing me. Making it near impossible to navigate the terror pathways in my mind. I’m so sorry that you endure this, and that your son has trouble, too. I see signs of it in my sons, too, though as adults they are far less fearful than I am (God’s grace…)

    But you are so right – anxiety does NOT get to win. Christ, the One who suffered such deeply anxious moments that He sweat drops of blood, HE won the ultimate victory. For though we may be tortured by anxiety on this side of heaven, we will never be overcome. The end of the story is not what we fear, for we will be given eternal life.

    This verse has always helped me:

    “I sought the LORD, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears.” (Psalm 34:4, ESV)

    Yup.

    GOD BLESS!

    Liked by 1 person

     
  14. Bonnie Lyn Smith

    June 1, 2015 at 2:05 pm

    Christi, wow! I read this multiple times! So encouraging! I’m loving your ongoing espresso analogy. LOL! Girl after my own heart! Thank you for unpacking this even more for me. I really appreciate processing it with others and hearing how it came across! Discovering you has been a treasure…looking forward to “chatting” more over blogs each week! Blessings!

    Liked by 1 person

     
  15. Bonnie Lyn Smith

    June 1, 2015 at 2:15 pm

    Sharon…that is so true! It is a completely different language to figure out. It requires a lot of advocacy. What looks like someone with anger, discontent, hyperactivity, twitches, etc. can be so misunderstood much of the time. So many behaviors are just symptomatic of the anxiety behind them, and only those closest to us really know that. I love that you mention sweating the drops of blood….so true, and I hadn’t connected those thoughts directly to anxiety before. Thank you so much for sharing that verse! I’m going to share that with my son! I love it! Thanks for coming by and leaving such thoughtful reflections! I love talking about this with others who understand. I pray you find some relief and easing of your own anxiety.

    Like

     
  16. Mary Collins

    June 2, 2015 at 7:09 pm

    Thanks for being so transparent about your experiences. I know only too well about anxiety because I have had many moments where fear just takes over. I have often found myself quoting “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear. But of power, love, and of a sound mind,” to pull myself out of whatever pit of anxiety and despair I have slipped into.

    Liked by 1 person

     
  17. Bonnie Lyn Smith

    June 3, 2015 at 10:39 pm

    Oh, Mary…it can be so easy for me to slip into that place too. For some reason, I’ve convinced myself I’m comfortable there…even though I’m really not. It is an easy default for me. But I love that verse, and ever since I discovered it, I recite it on many occasions. I love that you do too! Blessings!

    Like

     
  18. Alyssa

    June 4, 2015 at 10:32 am

    Stopping by from the #RaRaLinkup Thanks for coming over to my site Bonnie Lyn. I can resonate with this post because I have suffered from anxiety since I was a small child. It can be so difficult and now I see it in my own children some days and I know how they feel. Prayer journaling has helped me immensely to deal with anxiety.

    Liked by 1 person

     
    • Bonnie Lyn Smith

      June 8, 2015 at 12:06 am

      Thanks so much for coming over here too, Alyssa! I really appreciate it! I love the prayer journaling idea! I was hoping to do a little of that with my son over the summer. Great idea! I hate seeing my own anxiety in my kids, but you know what? I think we are well-equipped with compassion and understanding because of our own journey. Blessings to you!

      Like

       

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