I’ve been paying more attention to my ‘self’ in the past few years than I ever have. It’s hard to describe but I’d say the catch phrase or buzz word for this is “self awareness” or “mindfulness” and I’ve gotten pretty good at analyzing what is going on in my brain, it doesn’t mean its logical, it just means I am able to slow myself down enough to pin point what is causing different emotions or physical reactions inside of me. More times than not, I notice anxiety creeping in my thoughts and my physical reaction to that anxiety.
Since I had Daphne, our third daughter, my anxiety level has definitely reached an all time high (and I honestly wouldn’t consider myself an anxious person), peaking around 8 weeks I’d say. There are many factors that led to that anxiety and of course with a new baby, and hormonal changes, its normal to have anxiety; however, this has triggered me to think more about what caused my daily fluctuations in emotions – how I can be perfectly happy one moment and crazy fearful the next. I also noticed, more alarmingly, that almost everyone I speak to is dealing with anxiety on some level. I noticed in our church bulletin that the college kids on retreat talk about anxiety being some of their biggest concerns. I heard on a podcast that mothers on a retreat are exhausted and overwhelmed. You’re talking about people who are seeking the Lord and striving to do their best but still feeling a generalized anxiety and exhaustion. Why is this? Is this just what happens in this era? Was anxiety as common in past years? Did our ancestors get anxiety?
Being at home these past four months with Daphne has definitely slowed life down for me, I have had to say no to many gatherings I would usually go to. I’ve had to sit every few hours just to feed her. I’ve been picking up the kids earlier from school and daycare because I can and that leads to less “accomplishments” in my “normal” world because getting anything done with a 14 week, 3 year and 6 year old is about impossible. This too has caused me anxiety over not having control over everything and being able to accomplish things on my own time and at the pace I want it to be and at the level of perfection I want. It’s so inconvenient for me and my ego!
I guess what I’m getting at is that I think my anxiety stems from the sin of pride. I think pride puts pressure on me to do it all, to be afraid of what others think if I say no, to have a perfect home, a perfect life, to be fast and perfect in all I do, and to have CONTROL over everything. Pride puts me at the center of it all and takes God out of the equation. It whispers, “You can handle it all on your own and do it better and faster than anyone else.” It whispers, “You have to achieve your place here on earth and in heaven.” Then inevitably pride’s friend anxiety attacks from the other side and says, “It’s too hard, it’s too frustrating, why can’t you do this perfectly, why do your kids mess up what you just did?” Pride and anxiety and its big brother fear are running me into the ground and stealing my joy and my hope and my peace and my patience and all the fruits of God’s grace.
So how do I combat this? That is the million dollar question that has been bouncing around in my brain for quite some time now. I really don’t know the answer but I am searching and praying that God reveal to me how to heal this. What I do know is that healing starts with a relationship with Jesus, his Father and the Holy Spirit. I believe using scripture to combat these thoughts and anxieties with their powerful truth is one antidote. I believe just like my addiction to food, God can break the power that pride, anxiety and fear have over me if I allow him in to heal me and to take away the pain, if I let him.
I’m not coming here today to say I have the answer to anxiety, but I’m coming here today to let anyone who needs to know, that I am struggling with this and the more I open up about it, the more I realize that you probably are too in varying degrees. I’m coming here today to say I believe with all my heart there is an antidote. I do NOT believe that God wants me to live life in any other state than abundance. Now that does not mean that I am free from suffering in this life, but that I can still be joyful and peaceful in that suffering. I’m coming here today to say that I know the antidote surely rests in Christ Jesus; however, I am searching for how he will break me free from it. When I’ve found that solace through Him, I’ll be spreading the word as to how he has touched my wounds and healed them!