I vividly remember my first anxiety attack, even though it was five years ago. I remember the racing heart, and feeling of being trapped because I had convinced myself that there was nowhere to go. People were everywhere, and I had no private place to cry and scream. I so desperately longed for isolation; I needed to collect myself, but couldn’t on a busy college campus in the middle of the day.
My anxiety attacks became something of a pattern in subsequent years. I learned what it felt like when I was about to have one, and I (mostly) learned how to stop them at the beginning, before the attack got out of control.
I speak so openly about this because while there is still a stigma against people who struggle with mental illness, 40 million adults in the U.S. suffer from anxiety disorders. That is 18 percent of the population.
Christians are not immune to anxiety. And as Sarah Mae writes for (in)courage, God may use this dark part of our lives to teach us a lesson about Him.
Mae explains that she wrestled with anxiety after agreeing to babysit five children while their parents spent some time alone together (and she has three of her own!). She called herself ridiculous and stupid for reacting in such a way. Finally, she asked God, “Why this constant anxiety over this situation?”
Mae writes, “In the quiet of another sleepless night I sat with that question. I pushed away judgement of myself and just listened to my anxiety. And in the quiet, in the gentleness I gave myself, I realized that I wasn’t stupid or crazy or any other demeaning thing I wanted to say to myself.
“My anxiety was real for a reason.”
It would have been far easier to dive under the covers, and cry until sleep gave her the sweet release of peace. But she courageously faced her anxiety head on.
Mae writes that deciding to learn from her anxiety brought her closer to God. The Lord met her in her pain.
“The truth is that only God knows the deepest places of your heart. Only He knows the why’s and the wounds and the reasons. This is why Psalm 139:23-24 shows us to pray, ‘Search me, O God…’, not ‘Let me search myself.’ He will reveal the tender truths we need to know and walk through in order to become free.”
The beautiful truth is this:
“God speaks in our pain, and He will show us what we need to know.”
God wants us to know that He will meet us in our most difficult moments.
“With God and the power of His Holy Spirit, we are stronger than we think, because in our weakness, He is the strongest,” Mae writes.
May that knowledge give you the courage to face your anxiety, no matter if yours looks the same as mine, or completely different.
Like many other trials we will face in life, the best place to face your anxiety is in the Word of God.
Crosswalk.com contributing writer Candace Crabtree names five psalms for those who struggle with anxiety, but what she says about Psalm 34 especially speaks to my heart:
“I like to think of this Psalm as the Psalm for the brokenhearted and fearful one. God love the brokenhearted, you know. And we are all broken, by the way.”
“I will bless You at all times, Your praise will continually be in my mouth. I sought You, Lord, and You heard me, You delivered me from all my fears. When we look to You we are radiant. Your angels encamp all around those who fear You and You deliver us. Help me to taste and see that You are good, oh Lord. You say I will be blessed when I trust You. Those who seek You lack no good thing.” (Psalm 34:1-10)
Peace be with you, friends.
Carrie Dedrick is an editor of Crosswalk.com. When she is not writing or editing, she can usually be found teaching dance classes, running marathons, or reading with at least one adopted dog on her lap.
Photo courtesy: Thinkstockphotos.com
Publication date: March 24, 2017