Wow, I can’t believe today marks a year from when my anxiety began. If you haven’t already heard my story of how it all started then I encourage you to go check out my post, My Battle with Anxiety. At the time that post was written I was still dealing with it all the time and basically just trying to keep my head above the waves.
As I have come up on a year now, I honestly am filled with a ton of emotions. I don’t even know where to start. I feel like God has been teaching me so much through this season that I don’t want to leave anything out, yet I don’t want to overwhelm anyone either.
September seemed to come all too fast this year for me. The negative thoughts that had been building as the month approached were, “Why aren’t I completely better yet?” “Why hasn’t God fixed me by now?” “Will I ever be able to shake the anxious feelings?”
I would never consider myself a pessimist until this week. These thoughts that were filling my mind consumed me every day. Satan would continue to tell me lies about how if I am not better by now, then I won’t ever be.
So as September crept closer and closer, the feelings of anxiety began to rise. As weird as it sounds I would think things like, “What if it happens again?” “What if it’s something that gets worse when the weather isn’t sunny and bright?”.
But with each negative thought and feeling that would come, growth and healing came too. Did I focus on those things though? No.
Just this week alone has challenged me to reflect on this year in a real way. Not to look back and think about how I still felt anxious when we went and did that, or I felt panicky during this time. Instead God challenged me to find the ways He is working.
December 2016 was the last time I had a full on panic attack. When I say “full on panic attack”, I mean one where I felt like I couldn’t control it and I needed help calming down. Along with the typical resolutions we make in the new year, I made one that said “no more panic attacks”. As months passed there were moments of anxiety where I felt like I was going to lose it. In fact, just the other day while sitting in a group of friends talking about God, satan found a opportunity to try to cause panic. I sat there, trying my best conceal the shaking. I place my hand on Logan’s leg to try to calm myself down, but also so I can squeeze him when I feel like I can’t handle it anymore. I squirmed and did my best to hold back tears when eventually a peace began to come over me. I made it through the rest of the evening feeling better, but honestly, a little discouraged also.
Logan and I were driving home and I was telling him how I wasn’t sure what exactly “triggered” it but possibly because they had been talking about some medical problems and things to do with seizures (HA and I wanted to be a nurse..) I felt defeated by it again. I felt like I still didn’t have it under control. As we talked more, Logan helped me to look at it differently. Instead of being disappointed, I should be encouraged by those times. Encouraged that I was able to calm down by asking (okay begging) God to calm me down. I didn’t need Logan to take me in the other room and distract me with T.V. and I didn’t need to run outside to call my mom. No, God used His strength in me to get me through it.
Ever since then, I have realized I have been missing a lot. God has been working in my life so much, but I have been too blind to see it. I don’t wake up in the morning with my first thought being “Hey, remember you have anxiety“. I don’t cringe at the thought of taking a trip away from home. I don’t pass meals because I feel too anxious to eat. And I don’t feel sick to my stomach anymore.
That’s not to say I don’t have bad days because some days are harder than others, but I often forget to look at the bigger picture. Look to see what God is doing in my life and how he is using this anxiety to draw me closer to Him.
My relationship with Christ has grown enormously since getting anxiety. I have no hesitation choosing between working on my bible study or just skipping it to watch TV or go on my phone. I know I need Him.
As I look back on all the ways that God has been working in my life, I see places where I still struggle. Now I’m going to be real honest here and it’s actually kind of embarrassing to me for some reason. I guess I want to come off as someone who completely trusts in believes in Christ because I want you to know His powerful love too. But God did not call me to pretend to be a perfect follower, He called me to be real and show others the depths of His love for us even when we don’t have it all together.
It was about 6 or 7am the other day when a bird woke me up with its annoying chirping outside. I’m sorry if you are a huge bird lover but, I literally wanted to throw a rock at it. It wasn’t the nice pretty morning chirps like the movies. It was more like the really annoying alarm clock that you can’t seem to turn off…Anyway, I got up to close the window so I could go back to sleep without the annoying bird in my ear, when I noticed my phone light up. I took a quick peek at it to see who it was. My sister-in-law had texted us to ask for prayer. Her and her friend were leading a group of college freshman for the week of welcome and they were completely exhausted, physically and mentally. As I laid back down in bed I began to pray for them before I forgot. I remember it going something like, “God, I pray that you would help them to have energy today and feel refreshed as they start this new day….Even though you probably wont.” Yes you read that last part right. My eyes opened wide when I realized what I just prayed. I couldn’t believe that I had just said that to God! Has this happened to anyone else because I feel like God was dropping some serious hints with that one?! Even though you probably wont… I sat there for a good ten minutes tossing and turning trying to figure out why that would come out of my mouth. There was only one word that kept coming to mind, but I kept shooing it away like a fly because I didn’t want to face it. Disbelief.
Now don’t get me wrong here, I do believe in God and I know that He loves us but I realized that morning that I really struggle with this idea of belief. I know you are wondering what this has to do with my anxiety at this point, but hang in there! I’ll bring it back around, I promise. I spent this whole past week trying to figure out what it is that I don’t believe about God. I realized more and more with each day that I believe in God and that he can give my sister-in-law energy or heal me from my anxiety, but I don’t believe that He will. I have been believing that He has bigger and better things to do than give us energy or calm my anxious heart.
Now that these pieces of the puzzle are coming together in heart, I am learning to challenge those thoughts of unbelief. Maybe He is healing me, but like I said earlier I am not looking at the bigger picture. I am too focused on the healing right here, right now.
Just the other night I sat around with the girls in my church group as we updated each other on our prayer requests. Instead of just listening and focusing on the negative things I began to recognize something different. Each person that week had a different and unique victory that was related to their prayer requests from last week. “Okay well maybe that’s just a coincidence” I thought. But even I had some answered prayers. Someone asked me how my anxiety this week has been and I realized, it’s actually been a lot better. This was huge because this was the week of my one year battle against fear. Yet I felt calm and at peace. God really is listening and working but the problem is me.and sin. I expect these grand gestures from God instead of looking at the way He has been shaping me and molding me this past year.
I will not lie here and say that my anxiety is all better now. This struggle with unbelief is something I am working very hard at. I am doing my best to take my thoughts captive, making them obedient to Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5). I can say that I thought this week was going to be really hard for me, but God is working and has given me such a peace about it. The thoughts I had leading up to it are gone and instead I am learning to rejoice alongside Christ. He is showing me how He is working all this in my life and that He has the power to defeat satan, I just need to let Him (for some reason it’s a lot harder than it sounds).
Lastly I want to end with this, if you are like me and struggle with this I want to encourage you to bring it God. He truly listens to us even when we don’t think He cares. Don’t worry about waiting to come to Him when you have it all together and aren’t such a mess, like I tend to do. He is here to “bind up the brokenhearted” (Isaiah 61:1). He wants us to come to Him broken so we can find healing in Him.
I know God can heal me and wants too because, fear is not from God.
I love you all and I am so thankful for all of your support. It’s an amazing thing to be able to share my life with people and I hope this will be an encouragement to even just one person. Stop focusing on the right now and take some time today to look at the bigger picture. Thank for letting me share my heart! XOXO