Hands shaking, lip quivering, tears streaming, heart POUNDING...there's nothing like feeling caught right in the middle of this anxiety attack.
Hyper-aware of my increasing heart rate, I can't stop crying and am losing my breath fast.
I can only take in short, sharp breaths. There's a pressure in my chest that feels intense and heavy.
I feel the numbness grow in my hands and now I'm downright embarrassed that I can't calm myself down.
I close my eyes and focus on God's peace.
I've been there. I've been caught in that whirlwind of anxiety, and as much as I'd love to say I've got a grip on this whole "be still" concept, anxiety manages to rear its ugly head right when I desperately don't need it.
I think we can all struggle with some degree of anxiety from time to time. But for some of us, it can spiral into an unnerving physical ailment. I've been downright embarrassed at the mess I've been, but God has been so gracious to me, and He has shown me his tender love every single time.
Zach has been asking me for months, "what are you going to write about next? You haven't written in a while."
Truth is, I've known what I'm supposed to write for quite some time, but I've been a little Jonah, running and running. The subject of anxiety has been embedded into my everyday for the last few months. I've been developing a DVD bible study at work titled "The Basket Case," with teaching from Beth Moore. It focuses on dealing with anxiety and yes, I totally realized the irony that I, the very person assigned to the development of this project, can be this anxiety-filled basket case. Perhaps not so much "the irony" but really God's sovereignty. Yet somehow, I've just developed this excuse that I'm too tired to think about the subject more when I come home.
Months later, here I am, sitting at my computer, telling you...anxiety is not just a generalized sermon topic. It's personal. And I know it's personal for so many of you. To sit down and say, "my anxiety is so bad at times, I can't breathe." To actually admit the extremity of it...leaves me feeling swallowed in embarrassment. But I can't just get stuck there and not share that with anyone.
I mean seriously, what good will it do us if we each keep to ourselves and let the person who is walking through that same battle continue thinking, "I'm the only one."?
Well, one quick google search of "anxiety attack," and it's easy to see I'm not the only one that's been caught right in the middle of that uproar.
I'm not kidding when I tell you "The Basket Case" is one of the studies I've heard the most anticipation for. I've spoken to women who have called into the ministry, wondering how they can get their hands on this specific teaching from Beth. They're so tired of letting worry rule their lives, and they're tired of feeling like a complete wreck. We're all tired!
Clearly there's a reason why that one episode of "This Is Us" that depicts an anxiety attack is so touching. It's so relatable.
(If you haven't watched it, check it out here.)
The Lord knows I've been in a position just like Randall's at times - and I can tell you it takes sheer vulnerability to let someone hold you in the midst of your anxiety.
THE BASKET CASE
My dear sister Beth Moore is a powerhouse of wisdom, and I've sat and listened to her words on this subject just about every work day as I worked on this project. Over and over, I heard her voice on the videos I edited, "anybody sick. to. death. of dealing with anxiety?"
She goes on to break down some of the main causes for anxiety and presents some of the best ways to combat it. I just love everything she teaches in this series, but probably the most eye-opening statement I caught was this:
"Anxiety is care clothed in fear and intensified by anger and clamoring for control."
I had to stop and look at that statement several times because it was just so convicting.
Anxiety often arises when my illusion of control breaks down. I care about my future so much that I start to fear it. Sometimes I feel this rising panic that things will just not work out, and I'm quick to forget that the very Author of the Universe is working on my behalf.
I don't know about you, but that gets exhausting for me. It wears my body down. It wears my soul down.
So instead, I choose to put on strength and dignity. I choose to trust Him and His goodness. And while I know anxiety may start to rise again, I know who will rescue me. So much of the battle against anxiety involves surrender, surrendering control to the Lord. It takes being vulnerable enough to break down and say, "Lord, I need you to hold me. I need you to carry me." My flesh is so weak, but His power is made perfect in that weakness.
"The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me..." - Psalm 28:7
if you are there... if you are embarrassed by the degree of anxiety you feel, I'm here to tell you - you are not alone.
One of the worst things I've done is believe that I cannot confess to anyone- I can't let anyone know how quickly I'm tearing at the seams. There's this awful lie that trips me and says, "they are going to think you are outright RIDICULOUS."
But you know what? I'm owning it. I wrestle with anxiety. But, I also happen to know the best warrior and destroyer of anxiety in all of history. He's right there in front of me, parting the seas that threaten to drown me. And He goes before you, too.
I'd love to end by sharing this translation of Psalm 23. One of my coworkers shared it with us this week, and I was so refreshed by its sweet reminders. Truly, there is nothing that has ever been a more powerful tool for me in fighting anxiety than clinging to Scripture. My prayer is you find comfort in it as well.