The gift of anxiety

Today was a victory, just like yesterday and the day before and the day before.  Today’s accomplishment?  I went to Wal-Mart by myself—got myself out the door, drove to the store, and shopped for needed household items (and a couple of extras).  I purchased my items, walked to my car (almost got run over in the crosswalk by some lady in a van who had the nerve to beep at a pedestrian was in the middle of the road when she sped around the corner), and drove home with a triumphant smile on my face.  Victory!

Some of my mom friends are probably thinking, “Going to Wal-Mart alone?!  That would be a dream come true!” 

Others might think, “Seriously?!  What’s your deal?”

A few of you get it because you know me and a few of you understand because you live or have lived with this reality.  Sometimes getting out of bed is a win and making it out the door is a victory.  Such is life for a person who lives very real battles with anxiety and depression and related issues. 

Now that I live a more open life, my absence has been noted, both here on this blog and in my personal and church life.  It started as a sinus infection, then a huge stress attack, and then a second, much worse sinus infection that affected by TMJ.  The stress set my usual anxiety spiraling out of control.  Being home recovering from the second sinus infection has turned anxiety into a major emotional/psychological l battle.  Like all things, it impacts my whole being and becomes a spiritual battle as well.  The enemy always preys on our weakest spots.

Since I was unable to attend church this week, I decided to watch a series of talks by Andy Stanley called, “The Comparison Trap.”  In the first talk, Andy said something I immediately wrote down, “When we speak out of our weakness, we never run out of things to say.”   So, when I write about my weakness, I always have good material to which God gets all the glory, for His strength and light radiate from my cracked, weak spots.

However, talking about my current struggles can be hard because well-intentioned people like to throw misinterpretations of Bible verses at me and tell me that my anxiety is a sin.  Worse are those who think I can just snap out of it.  While I can ask God to remove mental illness from life, I cannot make it go away.  Simply put, my brain is sick.  Neurons are misfiring.  Neurotransmitters have run amuck.  But I’m learning how to deal with it and through it all, my faith is growing because I must cling to God in my struggles.  He never lets go of me.

I used to think the true measure of faith was the absence of fear, but I was set straight during an interview with musician whose music is a breath of life to my weary soul.  He told me clinging to God, reading Scripture, writing in my journal—those are the very acts of faith that seeks God first.  If that’s all I can do, I am doing well.  Everything else is an act of grace for us and grace, in and of itself, is a gift of God’s good pleasure.  My pastor often prays, “Even if Jesus was all You gave us that is still more than we deserve.” (paraphrased)

Sometimes we sing, “Your grace is enough, Your grace is enough, Your grace is enough for me.”  It’s a great song, but do we, do I really believe that?  I mean, if Jesus was truly all God gave me, would that be enough for me?

I don’t know, but if it was all I had left I hope it would be enough.  As it is, today I was given an extra measure of grace—a chance to go to Wal-Mart, shop for a few items, and go home.  This, too, is an act of God’s grace and it is not small thing; it is God-reliance.  If I didn’t have the gift of anxiety/depression, I would be able to rely on myself, but I am forced to rely on God and He has given me a wonderful support system that provides me tangible help.   Mental illness isn’t the kind of gift I would wrap up and give a friend as a birthday present, but I am thankful for the chance to know God more and more through it. 

Tomorrow I will get up and fight this monster again.  Will I be victorious?  I sure hope so.  I do know that God will be with me either way.

2 thoughts on “The gift of anxiety

  1. Brava, my friend.
    I, too, have battled anxiety attacks.
    It’s a harrowing road to walk … and yet, walking it drew me closer to Jesus.
    So in that I can say I am thankful for that wretched season of my life.
    Praying for you.
    Believing for you.

  2. Jason Gray’s CD entitled A Way to See in the Dark is amazing . There are so many songs on it that relate to fear. It has really helped me during those times. Generalized Anxiety Disorder is very real…you are in my thoughts and prayers, Amy. Blessings, ~Cathy

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