This blog is about anxiety… and I am having anxiety about talking to you about anxiety. That word gets a lot of press anymore, but I never thought I actually had “it.” I thought I was worked up or tired, or I just wasn’t strong enough to handle whatever “it” was. I still feel guilt talking and writing about this for fear of misuse of the word, that I’m using it incorrectly, that what I am experiencing is just me being ridiculous and trying to make an excuse for laziness. I continuously fear that I am being ungrateful by feeling this way, and that if I just prayed more, did more, or focused on the good things it would go away, and when it doesn’t go away that it’s my fault and I should be able to do better and feel better.
How do you know you have something if you don’t know what that something is, or what it’s supposed to feel like? All I can really know or at least attempt to know is when I dig in and get honest with myself in how I feel. I’m not a doctor and I’m not God. It’s hard to assess an illness without being able to see it, without having symptoms….except I did and still do have symptoms. I simply push them aside and make excuses for feeling the way I do.
As I think about symptoms of anxiety and am able to “see” them, I found God saying to me, ‘Mandy, can you see me? Am I really there even though I’m not physically sitting in your cute comfy chair next to you? Am I really there even though you don’t see visible signs/proof of my existence?’ Thank you God for reminding me that I am not God, and that only you are! I know God exists because of His Word. I know He exists because the human people who wrote down and shared their experiences of God at work, of Jesus walking on earth, of dreams He gave them, and promises He fulfilled. I know He exists because I’ve experienced His healing and forgiveness and redemption. And so I know that anxiety exists because I experience it, I feel it, I hear other women’s stories of it’s existence and it’s effect on them. Our stories are powerful. Our stories change lives. God uses our stories to show His glory to ourselves and to others.
What I’ve reckoned with is that the anxiety that hits me sometimes isn’t my honest feelings about my life or my family or my faith. I know in my head how much I love those things. It’s anxiety. Anxiety is what makes my head spin, my breathing shallow, and my memory lapse. Anxiety is what I have to choose to deal with and take care of, and not feel incapable and “less than” on those days when it strikes hard.
So I’m going to accept the fact that I absolutely get anxious, that I have anxiety right now, and may have it for awhile, and I’m going to admit that I don’t have the ability on my own to handle all things. My head knows that “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength,” (Philippians 4:13) even when my feelings and my body and my anxiety FEEL like they’re winning. I’m going to attempt to be ok with the fact that I’m a mess, that I struggle, and I’m so far from having life figured out. Paul had a “thorn in his side,” (2 Corinthians 12:1-10) his entire life that God didn’t take away from him, even though he prayed and prayed for it to be gone. It was a reminder of how we can do nothing on our own. That in all seasons and challenges and joys of life, we NEED Jesus, and our need for Him brings Him glory. That is what our lives are meant to do; bring Him glory. So bring it on anxiety, bring it on crap days, and bring it on really rough patches of life. I have Jesus.
I don’t always feel like praying about it. I KNOW in my heart that He cares, and that prayer and Bible reading helps, but I have to force myself to do it. My head knows God wants good for me, that His plans are good, and that He will walk with me every single minute of every single day to accomplish what His will is for my life. And so, I groan. I groan because I don’t have the words to pray. I groan because I can; because the Bible tells me that when I accept Jesus into my life, that the Holy Spirit lives inside of me and will be my connection to God. That the Holy Spirit knows my words even when all I can muster is a groan. (Romans 8:26-27)
I share in hopes that someone needs to read this. And to know that even though you are extremely high functioning, successful, beautiful, strong, loving, and faithful, that anxiety is anxiety and that it’s not YOU. It’s something that affects you.
Girlfriends, sometimes, you just gotta groan.