Anxiety tells me how inadequate, unlovable, burdensome, awkward, and unworthy I am. God tells me that I’m His child and a new creation in Him.
For several years, social anxiety left me feeling overwhelmed and on a long quest for healing. Different than being shy, I was fairly outgoing prior to the onset of these symptoms in my early 30’s. My social anxiety stems from trauma (details for another post). It is the experience you have when your general sense of security in the world is ripped from you and this ‘ungrounding’ experience outweighs your resources to cope. In my case, the rebuilding has taken years upon years. But, as a single moment can change life’s trajectory for the worse, it can also change for the better and give new life and hope. This is the moment that God enters, the moment(s) that God does what only God can do.
Although efforts to heal (talk therapy, support groups, etc.) were well intentioned, they sometimes led me further from the freedom and peace I so longed for. Through all of my efforts, I didn’t realize that “trying” was often the very thing getting in the way of healing. It was exhausting to ‘try’ to get things right, to ‘try’ to please God, to ‘try’ to heal, to simply BE enough. Often plagued by feelings of inadequacy and overwhelm, I was losing all hope. I had ‘tried’ everything and still felt lost.
One day I stumbled upon an online support group. It centered around a teaching that suggested that healing from anxiety was possible by changing our relationship to our thoughts. Free of techniques, it encouraged listening, allowing, awareness, and TRUST. This coincided with one of those aha moments in church. While praying, I confessed to God that I couldn’t do it anymore, I didn’t know how. ALL was in His hands now. Silly to think God needed my help, right? Following this prayer, I entered into a social situation that normally would’ve triggered anxiety. This time it didn’t. I didn’t have to ‘manage’ my anxiety. As I surrendered and trusted, God took care of the rest.
Feeling overwhelmed and unworthy was painful. I desperately wanted out of the pain. What I didn’t realize is that this perception of needing to heal my brokenness was not my job. The work of being healed, loved, forgiven, and redeemed, is not for me to figure out. I couldn’t see that I was getting in the way of receiving His most precious gift. The Lord tells us to trust in Him with all of our hearts and lean not on our own understanding. He asks that we acknowledge Him in all of our ways, and that in doing so, He will direct our paths. (Proverbs 3:5-6)
If you have ever struggled with anxiety (and/or depression) you know what a huge relief it is to find some freedom from it. I still feel anxious sometimes, and if I do, it’s okay. The goal is not to stop being human. The goal is to simply BE with what is, however uncomfortable, and TRUST in the Lord to take care of the rest.
It is self defeating to assume that my symptoms of anxiety make me unworthy of being used by God. Might the opposite be true? Sometimes it is our surrendered struggle, the one we wrestle with most, that God uses as an opportunity to impact the lives of others.
The following reflections, revelations, and scriptures have spoken to my heart lately. I hope they bring comfort to your heart too:
“There is peace and joy in trusting. From this surrendered place, the Lord guides my thoughts and words.”
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6
“Be still and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9
God is here, present in every situation. Where He is present, there is no fear.
“…God is love” 1 John 4:8
“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.” 1 John 4:18
The Lord is in control. There’s nothing to do of my own will. If fully trusting in Him, there is freedom to just BE.
Don’t shrink back or give in to feeling repressed or invisible. Show up. Be an open and trusting vessel for the Spirit of the living God to work through.
There is no need to change before doing this or that. The Lord is here NOW in the midst of the struggle.
If the anxiety comes, let it be. Treat it as I would a good friend, with gentleness, kindness, and compassion.