In college I loved God but I was hiding from Him. I prayed occasionally and I thought about Him often, but I was too broken and ashamed of my lifestyle to get close to Him. It was as if l kept my faith hidden in a box, and I only took it out every once in a while when I was going through a tough time or when I wanted comfort. At that time I loved drinking too much with my friends at the bars every weekend. I was an expert at ignoring my hidden anxiety and I lived for the weekend. Needless to say, I was not interested in God’s plan for me. I lived how I wanted to.
My relationship with God stayed relatively the same until I found out I was pregnant four and a half years ago. I remember dropping to my knees in my best friend’s bathroom when I saw the positive test. That week I asked God to forgive me for following my own plan and rejecting His. I had taken the first steps in God’s plan of healing for me.
I felt ashamed during pregnancy. I was attending my last few college classes with a growing belly hidden under an oversized tee. I felt broken and unworthy. My anxiety was all of a sudden overwhelming me, and I finally hit my breaking point. At eight months pregnant, I was sitting on the starewell of my mom’s house leaning over my large belly trying desperately to tie my shoes. I gave up trying to tie the laces and I started to cry. As frustrating as those shoe laces were, they were not the cause of my breakdown. The anxious thoughts running rampant in my head were. I was worried about money, and whether I would be a good mom, and where Michael and I would live, and where I would work, and whether I would be able to keep my fragile baby safe. I was scared to drive long distances for fear that I would get in an accident and lose my baby. I could go on. It was the first moment I realized that my anxiety was taking over and I didn’t know how to get rid of it. Desperate, I searched Google, “Sermons on Anxiety”. One of the first videos that came up was a sermon by Dr. Charles Stanley called, Victory over Anxiety. I listened to it on the way to work that morning, and cried (again) because Dr. Stanley’s sermon made me realize that my brain was in a constant cycle. I would conquer my anxiety over one thing, and then once I seemed to move past that or temporarily suppress the fear, I would start to obsess over something else. I felt absolutely crazy you guys! I thought surely if I let anyone know what was going on, I would be committed.
I realized the enemy was winning. He wanted me to focus on these meaningless worries so I was too distracted to lean into God and focus on my relationship with Him instead. When I was worrying, I wasn’t trusting God. I was holding on to anxiety, as if I was in control, as if I could figure out a solution on how to stop it myself. Spending time obsessing and worrying over things was DRAINING me. After finishing the sermon by Dr. Stanley, I raised my hands up in the car and I said, “God, I can’t do this anymore. Please take this from me, and give me the strength I need to get through this”. It was the hardest battle I’ve ever fought. Even after our sweet Max arrived I found myself praying the same prayer over and over. I would be exhausted, rocking Max to sleep, praying, “Please show me how to beat this God”.
Here is what I learned.
1. Unfortunately, the enemy doesn’t always show up in our heads with a pitchfork and horns. If that were the case, we would recognize him and tell him to leave immediately. It is important that we learn how to take every thought captive and make it obedient to God. If a thought enters your brain out of nowhere and it doesn’t line up with what God says is true, throw it out.
2. Anxiety = Fear. God does not give us the spirit of fear.
3. When I realize that I’ve spent a considerable amount of time worrying about something, I pray and ask God to show me the root of the worry. There have been many times I’ve heard an answer almost instantly, and there is nothing more comforting than hearing God confirm something I already know deep down. Ask God, why am I worrying about this? He will show you and from there He will help you break the loop.
4. Understand that you are not in control. God is. Stop with the “what if” questions.
“What if I get in a car accident?”
“What if I can’t pay this bill?”
(I am 100 percent guilty of this. 🙈)
You are not in control, and when you are living in a close relationship with God, you need to put your life in his hands, and look to him for guidance in every area of your life before you try to handle things your own way.
5. God will always show you the truth behind your worry if you ask Him to, and He has no problem confirming it for you over and over again if you need the extra reassurance.
When we are in constant communication with God, and when we have a close relationship with Him, there is little room for worry. Our trust is in Him, because we are not in control. We have the Holy Spirit living inside us. We have God’s soft, still voice saying, “That worry is not from Me. Don’t entertain it”.
There is no such thing as an anxiety free life. Everyone deals with it at some point. Stressful things happen daily, but we shouldn’t allow stress and worry to stay with us for an extended period of time. We don’t need to carry those things around for a decade or a lifetime, and hope they go away on their own. It’s heavy, and it will strip away our happiness and faith if we let it. Ask God to take your burdens, and trust that He will. The key to a sound mind will always be giving God control.
John 10:27-28 King James Version (KJV)
My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out