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Dear Anxiety: You Want Me to Stay Put and Stay Silent, but That's Not How I Heal

There is a lot of shame in anxiety. Shame that keeps us from talking to people about our struggles. A shame that keeps us walled up and locked up. There is also a lot of pride in anxiety. The thought of "I can handle this" so you don't ask for help or seek out help. Or the idea of "they are going to be so annoyed that I'm bringing this up AGAIN."

Both keep us from sharing. Both keep us in the same cycle.

To get out of those unhealthy cycles where we hide away, stay silent, and distract ourselves with unhealthy distractions, we need to speak. We need to communicate our feelings, emotions, fears, and concerns. We need to share what we need and what we want.

The only way we can move forward is by letting someone know what is going on so that they can either help us by giving us wisdom as an accountability partner or help us find a licensed therapist to work on the deep stuff with.

I've noticed with my anxiety that the devil wants me to be in a constant state of worry because my mind is focused on me. He doesn't want me to live out my purpose and what God has for me! He wants me to stay in my mind, spiraling, and he knows it keeps me from doing what I am meant to do. When I look outside my anxiety, I see other people; my mind can hear the Holy Spirit and the truth He speaks.

The other day, I was doom spiraling, where I thought of the worst possible scenarios and replayed them until they got worse. This time, though, I asked The Lord to "bring someone to mind who I can pray for." Guess what? A friend came to mind who is struggling right now. I immediately had a mental picture of this friend and started praying for her. Guess what else? My doom spiraling went away because I stopped focusing on myself and started focusing on someone else AND including God in these thoughts.

When my mind is focused on me, I can't focus on anyone but me. When I am focused on others, my worries and fears go away. When my mind is focused outward, I get to live in freedom. I live in that spacious place God has called me to. I live in his grace by living out his grace.

A memory came into my mind yesterday. I was at a Living Proof Ministries Conference where Beth Moore was speaking. At this season in my life, I had recently married Jordan, my father-in-law had been diagnosed with brain cancer, and all the change that was happening in my life showed itself through anxiety. I would have panic attacks, I wouldn't be able to fall asleep, and I couldn't seem to find peace. This conference was one of those times when the Holy Spirit met you in your brokenness, and it felt like He was speaking directly to you even though thousands surrounded you. Over and over, I felt so at peace and hopeful that this anxiety would not last forever. At one point during the weekend conference, Beth Moore asked us to look the person next to us in the eyes and say something to the effect of "I love you and am proud of you." I was sitting next to my mom, and the love I felt at that moment brought me to tears. She held me and encouraged me. This moment was one of present thinking and being. I wasn't ashamed of my anxiety and fear. I felt loved, and now, as I reflect on this moment, I think, wow, The Lord was showing me through my mom and Beth Moore just how much he loves me. And it's not a love that I have to do anything for. He gives his love to me thoroughly and without strings attached because he doesn't just love; he is love. His character is love, and he cannot go against it.

Sometimes, we need that physical or verbal reminder. And sometimes we need it multiple times a day. When I am in "crisis," and by "crisis," I mean doom spiraling, panicking, can't get my mind to take the exit off the highway of anxiety, so I keep passing exits that God has provided to get me off that way of thinking, that's what I mean by "crisis." In those times of my anxiety journey, I noticed that Jordan, because he doesn't think the way I think, has started to hold me, tell me he loves me, tell me everything will be okay, tell me I'm okay, etc. The physicality of the hug and the verbalization of truth I already know get me to not stay in my looping thoughts but come out of my little hole and start living again. It's a step towards freedom, and the people we allow into our inner thought lives, by caring for us, release this pride that we have it all together. They make it easier not to feel ashamed of our fear because the people we love, care for, and trust most are going to be able to point us back to the truth, there for us to hold us account and sometimes keep us until we can find the strength we all have to take that next step forward.

Here's the thing: When we let other trustworthy people who love and care about us into our mind mess, we take off a mask that we had it all together and humbly state that we don't have it all together; I need help. That is where walls come down. That is where you give consent to God to continue working through you. Through this sanctification, you continue the journey of becoming more and more like Christ. If we can't ever admit our shortcomings and weaknesses, we will not grow. Our masks will forever be glued to our faces, and the people who love and care for us will not know how to help us, or their help will not be received with the correct heart posture. So, remove your mask, share your inner thoughts with trustworthy people, and start healing. Jesus is always working in us to grow us and sanctify us, but we have to step in, meet Jesus, and do the work ourselves. When we step in and start our work in partnership with him, we give him consent to continue his great work in us.

Still working, still learning, and still growing,



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