Having an anxiety disorder doesn’t mean our faith is fake or broken.
3 am …stirring …staring. Silence piercing, thoughts deafening. Night after night, tossing, turning, thinking in repetitive circles. Tangles tango with preferable past outcomes. Circumstances in God’s control, not my own. I know it …repeat it …pray it …declare it. The seas ebb for a moment, then crash like high surf on the beach. Sleeplessness led to exhaustion. A constant state of nervousness set in. Like the start of a race, waiting for the crack of the gun, adrenalin back built. I couldn’t shake it, which shook me. Well-meaning churchgoers insisted I didn’t believe in Jesus enough to be healed. Christian counseling was helping, but my nervous system was sick. The echo of diagnosis rang in my ears. “I don’t want to medicate you through this, but I’m going to medicate you through this.”
How it Happens
“Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation, for through him God created everything in the heavenly realms and on earth. He made the things we can see and the things we can’t see- such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world. Everything was created through Him and for Him. He existed before anything else, and he holds all creation together.” Colossians 1:15-17
The Bible is full of verses reminding us to embrace the peace of Christ, and it starts by knowing who He is. “Some anxiety is part of the cost of admission to humanity,” Psychology Today explains, “Anxiety that hogs your mental life or curbs your normal activities demands serious attention.” Incorrect assumption confuses anxiety with general worry, blaming broken mental shards on the weakness of people. Though we all fall short, we’re too often compelled to cast a critical stare instead of an empathetic lifeline. Jesus cried tears of actual blood, preparing to walk out the Father’s will on the cross. Even negate of sin, the world crashed in on Christ. He rose victorious and empathizes completely. Anxiety disorders can crash into Christians, too.
How We Heal
“High-five!” I say as I finger-tap the tiny hand of the bobblehead Jesus on the dash. “He’s always with you.” The youths laugh. It’s so ridiculous; I hope they never forget that silly bobblehead and more importantly, that He’s always with them. “Don’t worry...” is a common piece of advice, but it’s hardly ever helpful for someone diagnosed with Anxiety Disorder. Don’t Worry, Be Happy was an anthem I happily doodled in elementary school. I hummed the tune of laid-back, beachy songs throughout adolescence. Everyone knew where I was in college by the sound of my laugh. The running joke is I want to be friends with everyone. Biblically, I know, believe, and study the Scriptures, which affirm my original motto. Yet, the freight train of anxiety tracking around this broken world smacked me head-on. The tiny bobblehead on my dash reminds me of the great healing He continues to pull me through. He’s always with me.
He Goes before Me
“Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation, for through him God created everything in the heavenly realms and on earth.” Colossians 1:15-16
Jesus was there with the Father in the beginning. Every provisionary need we ache for, God knows. Christ sits at the right hand of the Father, interceding for us. Jesus is praying for us. There is power in His name; we can flex over things threatening to take us out. Some days my body and mind tap out, demanding rest and recovery when I would rather wake for the sunrise or stay up to socialize. “Sleep provides the brain with an invaluable period of transporting toxins out of the neural tissue through a complex garbage removal system,” David DiSalvo explains, “Operating separately from the body’s lymphatic system, the brain’s trash-disposal apparatus seems dependent on sleep to function properly.” When anxiety is hard, I cling to Him, resting in His arms when I cannot rest at all. He sees, cares, and comes to my rescue, every time. He went before me and layered decades of Bible Study, friends, family, a counselor, my church, and a physician into my life, providing comfort and encouragement.
He Goes behind Me
“He made the things we can see and the things we can’t see- such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world.” Colossians 1:16
Anxiety Disorder can’t nullify the full life Jesus died to give me. Though we fall short of the glory of God, pain isn’t always a consequence of our sin but of sin. We can’t see the war waging among us in the spiritual realm but feel the effects. When someone suspicious and strange follows us, nervousness and fear flood us, and our adrenalin begins to fight all the worst-case scenarios forming in our minds. Jesus stands between us and anything after us. I lift my eyes to the Lord. I know where my help comes from. He cares for me. Anxiety tempts me to dwell on what’s behind me. Time spent with the Healer led me to trust treatment. As my nervous system heals, healthy trails of thought start to gain prominence over the tango of tangles. Relief washes over me as I wake to my alarm in the still of the morning rather than the tossing of thoughts in the middle of the night. I hear the Lord whisper, “It’s not your fault. I love you. Rest peacefully in Me.”
He Is for Me
“Everything was created through him and for him. He existed before anything else, and he holds all creation together.” Colossians 1:17
One of my favorite movie scenes is in Aladdin, when the genie holds up a tiny flag to cheer after Jafar has stolen the lamp and become his master. “Jafar, Jafar, he’s our man,” he cheers sarcastically, “if he can do it, GREAT!” We don’t have to worry about the enemy stealing the victory Christ won for us. Suffering here on earth does not indicate He or we have lost. We can believe He will do big things in our lives and miraculous healings! Whether here on earth or at home in heaven, we will be relieved of every pain, suffering, and sin. We can embrace the power of Christ’s victory through the Holy Spirit living in us. When we meet God in prayer and Bible study daily, He empowers us with the wisdom we need to navigate the next 24 hours. The more we let go and trust Him, the more we experience His providence.
The Ultimate Healer
Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. He promised never to leave us. Our Savior understands our feelings, the ailments we suffer, and the strength we lack in our humanity …because He became fully human for us. God’s plan, from the beginning, was to send Him to save us. And Jesus willingly fulfilled the will of the Father. The Holy Spirit dwells in everyone who embraces Jesus as Savior, strengthening us to walk in wisdom through every trial. Let our eyes be on Him through it all. Anxiety doesn’t mean our faith is fake or broken. He sees, hears, and walks with us through it all. The voice of Jesus is comforting, not condescending. When it’s hard to trust God’s timing and goodness, His Word provides what we need to encourage us through the next 24 hours. Lean in and listen as He whispers: “It’s not your fault. I love you. Rest peacefully in Me.”
Photo Credit: ©Getty Images/Adene Sanchez
Meg writes about everyday life within the love of Christ. Join her on the journey as she launches her new site Joy Overflowing, or join her longstanding community at Sunny&80. She is also the author of “Friends with Everyone, Friendship within the Love of Christ,” “Surface, Unlocking the Gift of Sensitivity,” and “Glory Up, The Everyday Pursuit of Praise,” and “Home, Finding Our Identity in Christ.” She earned a Marketing/PR degree from Ashland University, but stepped out of the business world to stay home and raise her two daughters …which led her to pursue her writing passion. A contributing writer for Salem Media since 2016, Meg is now thrilled to be a part of the editorial team. Always active in her community and the local church, Meg also leads Bible study and serves as a leader for teen girls.
The views and opinions expressed in this podcast are those of the speakers and do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of Salem Web Network and Salem Media Group.
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