This 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.
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.
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?
“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,
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 see 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.
This blog has been shared at any link highlighted here: Mom 2 Mom Monday Link-Up, Make a Difference Mondays, Pick Your Pin Tuesday, Women With Intention Wednesdays, Grace & Truth, A Little R & R, RaRa Link-Up, Dance With Jesus, Blessing Counters, Coffee & Conversation, Saturday 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).