This column isn’t for you. I’m writing it for me. Because I need to hear it more than you do. Or maybe there’s someone out there as messed up as I am.
If somebody had told me 5 years ago “I suffer from anxiety” I would have resisted chuckling at them. “Really? Anxiety? What are you so freaked out about? Why don’t you just take a deep breath and simply STOP getting anxious? And anxiety – what is that anyway? You feel nervous or something? Meh – suck it up.”
Obviously “anxiety” was not something that I struggled with in the past. However, some seriously huge life happened and I have found myself literally pacing in my living room at 7am as I’m barely breathing while I fret over the coming day and the situations I would face. Or not face. Or things that were simply out of my control and making me literally feel like I was losing my mind. I’ve not slept for a couple of days at a time while my mind races, I’ve turned down social functions because I just can’t handle the “act” that I have to put on, and there have been times that I’ve been reduced to a complete hermit while I wring my hands at my impending doom.
I’ve gone to therapy. I’ve taken an anti-depressant. I’ve prayed. I’ve exercised. I’ve meditated. I’ve even done some yoga-type exercises to see if they’ll shake it off of me. No dice. Each month I struggle, and each month grows into a year, and the next thing you know I’m still talking about this 5+ years later, and man, I’m SICK of it.
I have a few people in my life that will tell me to pray harder as it will help, and I roll my eyes. I talk to God about 10,000 times a day, so no, more prayer will not help. Then when I resist they tell me that I need to read the Bible more frequently. Even bigger eye-rolls. I should “give it to God.” I should remember that “it’s all part of God’s plan.” Blah. Blah. BLAH.
But, I can think back to times that I wasn’t afflicted with anxiety, and sure enough, I had a much more stable spiritual life. I did pray earnestly, I read the Bible, and I met frequently with people to talk spirituality and how to advance it in our lives. You see, I probably performed the same activities in terms of prayer and Bible reading, so what made my life so much more stable?
The story of David and Goliath is a good one when we try to unpack anxiety. We all know the story of the young David who was taunted by the 9’ tall Goliath while the entire Hebrew army cowered out of fear. So young David walks out, and against all odds, slings his rock and slays the mighty giant. If we bring this story out to help us with anxiety, we can easily see that Goliath is FEAR. He is WORRY. He is THAT WHICH WE CANNOT CONTROL. These are the things that feed anxiety and cause our symptoms. And then we have David. While I’m sure that he was completely freaked out inside, he still approached the giant and slayed him. So how was he able to stay calm, focused, and do what he had to do to slay the giant and reclaim his life?
I believe – he had FAITH.
David had been told by the prophet Samuel previously that he had been chosen by God to be the next King of Israel. Then he comes upon Goliath and thinks to himself “Well, then I guess God will kill this guy.” And sure enough, He does.
David wasn’t confident in David. He was confident in GOD.
And I suppose that is the root of so much anxiety and our (my) inability to handle it. I am faced with a trial, and I’m not confident in myself nor the others in my life to be able to conquer it. So I freak out. However, I have a God that can handle my problems. No, this is not easy to do and yes, I obviously fail constantly.
However, back to my struggles with allowing God to direct my actions: if I am not spiritually stable, how can God work in my life? How can he slay my Goliath if I don’t let Him into my own life? How can I trust God, when I am not fully GIVING myself to God?
We all know the answers. Myself included.