As I was scrolling through Instagram yesterday, I came upon a picture posted by @smartgirltribe and immediately stopped. "YOUR ANXIETY IS LYING TO YOU!" Let's be honest...we all have an internal dialogue that constantly plays in our head. If you are a Type A personality, you probably have a list of to-do's and goals that continuously take your attention off the present and thrust you twenty years into the future. But what happens when that internal voice does it's very best to sabotage your every move?
Anxiety says you aren't good enough. You aren't worth being loved. That even when everything is going right, you have to brace yourself for a fire storm ahead. It tells you that you must seek control any way possible. You will never achieve the purpose God has placed on your life or worse you have no purpose. It tells you that you are too weak to fight and will never win against the self-doubt, fear, and insecurity that it gladly gives you.
Anxiety is the elephant in the room that many have, but the world tells us its not okay to discuss. It's people who don't know any better (and some that do) asking why you are so sensitive or why you just can't be happy? It's crying when you know you should be laughing or being angry at yourself because you wish you could just "be happy." It's being in a room of people and feeling completely overwhelmed and alone. It's being so paralyzed by your fear that you think you cannot breathe.
Admitting you are suffering from it, many times feels like a failure especially when society makes it feel like a weakness to seek help. I have struggled for years with panic attacks and even an eating disorder in my teens and into early adulthood, because I didn't want to seek help.
I talk about it like it is a person because for years it has been my "frenemy" that shows up in the most inconvenient of places and ways. I think it is gone for good and then it comes back for a uninvited visit or extended stay. Before seeking any help, I thought that by going to a counselor or taking something for my anxiety meant I was somehow not strong enough to deal with life. The fact is, I'm not. I'm not supposed to be. None of us are. But God is.
Philippians 4:6-7 tells us, "Don't worry about anything, instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all has done. Then you will experience God's peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus."
God has a timetable for everything that happens. He tells us over 365 times in the Bible to "fear not, fret not, forget not and/or faint not." I believe He does this because our weakness and the fear that comes with it comes as no surprise to Him. Instead He tells us in 2 Corinthians 12:9, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."
As I have begun to turn my focus away from my own strength and power, to the promises of God, my internal dialogue has also changed. The Bible contains over 6,000 promises from God. I have began to focus not on what this world and anxiety tell me I am or should be, but what my Creator has spoken over me even before I was born.
"I am fearfully and wonderfully made." - Psalm 139:14
"For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope." - Jeremiah 29:11
His promises are not based on my perfection, but instead His unconditional love. I am not left to fight the battle by myself or by my own strength.
"The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still." - Exodus 14:14
"So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." - Isaiah 41:10
If you are suffering from anxiety, first off, know you aren't alone. Know you are loved and enough, despite what you are feeling. Secondly, don't be afraid to ask for help. Whether that means you seek out a friend, small group, counselor or doctor, don't be afraid to reach out to someone. We were never meant to do life alone. God created us for community.
If you are in a season of waiting or in the midst of a trial, take time to remember what God has done for you in the past. Elevation Worship has a song called "Do It Again." It is one of my favorite songs, and when I am feeling discouraged I sing out, "I've seen You move, come move the mountains. And I believe, I'll see You do it again."
God is a God of order and purpose. He is not a God of confusion, but peace. As we shift our focus from the self-condemning thoughts of our anxiety, to the life-breathing promises of God, we begin to gain control over our minds and emotions.
Isaiah 26:3 says, "You keep him in perfect peace who's mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You."
Take your thoughts captive. My anxiety comes back daily, but I have a choice whether to listen and believe that familiar song that has played in my head for years or put on a new song that empowers me to talk back to my anxiety and tell it to finally "shut up." Don't lose yourself in your fleeting "what if" scenarios. Instead, focus on the eternal Word and promises of God. <3