We all have a story—a story God has written on the pages of our lives so we can retell it to the benefit of others and to God’s glory.
One of the first posts I wrote, way back in the day, was a tongue in cheek article about anxiety. I can tease about myself but for most people struggling with anxiety it’s no laughing matter. It’s debilitating.
I gave a talk this summer in which I shared part of my story that had to do with panic and peace.
Two words as far from each other as the east is from the west.
For me anxiety was just part of my life, my journey through this world. When I stepped off the stage I was taken aback at how many others were on a similar journey still seeking answers on how to daily win the battle with the beast.
As I read todays lesson on mental health in Rick Warren’s Transformed devotional, I was reminded of this familiar verse:
“Be anxious for nothing but in everything with prayer, petition, and thanksgiving, let your request be known to God and the peace of God which passes all understanding will keep your hears and minds safe in Christ Jesus. Phil 4:6-7
For the longest time I didn’t do this verse well. Let me get you up to speed.
In case you didn’t catch it earlier,
I have a panic disorder.
There I said it. Actually it’s not hard to say. Gone are the days where people whispered such things. And yes, I’ve had it since I was a little girl. I’m not sure where it came from. Maybe it’s in my genes, or perhaps it was the loud atmosphere in my childhood home. We were yellers. Lot’s of tension. Let’s just leave it at that.
Anxiety manifests itself differently in children than adults and it wasn’t until I was in college that I had my first full-blown panic attack. Although I didn’t recognize it as such. I just thought I might have a little bit of “crazy” in me. Special isn’t it?
I’d have seasons of attacks separated by as much as a year or more. I remember before I got married thinking about how I was going to explain my “crazy” attacks to my future husband. But I didn’t have to. The stress of a new marriage brought them in to full view. Thank you Jesus! I mean really, thank you Jesus because I was able to get a proper diagnosis and solutions on how to cope.
Though now I could control the attacks for the most part (they make drugs for that) generalized anxiety continued to plague me well into my early 40’s.
I knew the all familiar verse in Philippians quoted above but I didn’t know why it didn’t work for me.
Early on I started naming it and claiming it. I prayed it. I memorized it. I repeated it. I beat
myself over the head with it, as if it was some kind of incantation that would work like magic.
But nothing. Not. A. Thing. Changed for me.
These were empty words on a lifeless page. I didn’t know how to apply the Word to my life.
That is, until the importance of my thought life and focus was explained to me. Yes, peace comes with an attitude of gratitude. But hear me when I say, this is not just about please and thank you. It’s about thanking God for something you can’t see and don’t know exists yet. It’s one thing to speak the words thank you, it’s quite another to feel them. In order to feel them you have to trust the one to whom they’re being given. And that requires a relationship.
As I drawn closer to Jesus, now I don’t just thank Him for what I can see but I thank Him and trust him for what I can’t—the place of anxiousness, the space I can’t control—the chasm between Dear God help me and my last Amen. It’s there where the Power is at work. When we pray God sets a plan into motion.
And peace comes with the belief… it is done.
It is finished— taken care of.
My worry was nailed to the cross 2,000 years ago.
I can walk away and trust His will is better than mine. I can let Him work out what I can’t do and turn my focus on what I can.
And that’s better than an incantation. More powerful than magic. And way better than a little crazy.
Looking forward, pressing on and seeking God in every bump and twist in the road.