The racing heart, heavy breathing, flushed face, twisted stomach, and shaking hands, they are no strangers to me. I understand. If you do not, I want you to simply listen.
I have grown too often acquainted with these afflictions, too frequently have we been companions, so I know. I know the doubts they bring, the terror you face, the pain you feel all because…nothing. There is no reason for it to exist, yet it shall persist.
I know the heartache that comes from having someone quote every Bible verse with fear and anxiety mentioned in it to you. I know how it feels to not believe the words even though their intentions are clear and undisguised. I have tried to accept the peace they are trying to show, but I find my hands are clenched and I cannot open them.
I have sat in a corner and cried because of nothing, I have had the nausea that comes from nothing. I have tried to fight this nonexistent cause and have lost. I have cried myself to sleep and woken in fear.
I have been there. I will be there again. I know the pain.
I also know this:
anxiety does not make you,
it is not the all-encompassing beast it appears to be,
it does not negate the redemptive power of God’s love
it does not mean you are a bad Christian,
it means you are human.
it does mean you are a broken Christian, and we all are broken,
it does mean that the love of God has been made known and is in you,
it does mean that it is a beast, but it has been overcome.
anxiety does not make you.
I know the pain. I will be there again. I have been there.
But every morning I have woken in fear, every night spent crying myself to sleep I have endured. Every moment spent fighting this nonexistent cause, every hint of nausea, every moment spent crying in a corner, from every one of them I have emerged victorious. Wounded, yes, but protected by the strength of the Savior.
Every time I try to grasp the peace well-meaning individuals try to give me, my hands fail. But instead, it pierces my heart, sometimes immediately, sometimes after an artificial eternity. In that moment I remember that despite my heartache, “the light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome.”
Despite my acquaintance with affliction, I remember the contrast of the crucifixion. A beautiful God on an accursed tree, murdered, yet still, in his magnificent power, transforming an icon of pain, torture, and heart break into a shining symbol of healing, sacrifice, love and beauty.
Anxiety does not disqualify you from this redemptive love. It may try to convince you so, but you must not let it win. You must remember, “him who is able to keep you from falling, and to make you stand without blemish in the presence of his glory with rejoicing,” who has “glory, majesty, power, and authority, before all time now and forever” suffered too.
To those who do not know the pain, fear, and torment: do not dare to label someone with this struggle as an invalid Christian.
To those who are trapped in the pain, fear, and torment: remember the victory of Christ.
Because, my dear, anxious sister and my beloved, anxious brother, you are a broken human, and that is exactly who Christ came to save.
Scripture (in quotations):
John 1:5; James 24-25
An explanation of the heart behind this piece:
I have no tolerance for people within a Christian community making flippant and insensitive comments such as:
“Just stop being anxious, everything is fine,”
“All you have to do is trust God. It isn’t hard,”
“Why are you still anxious? You are being a bad Christian because you aren’t supposed to have any anxiety.”
A blatant disregard for the reality of the dissonance for those who are diagnosed with clinical mental illnesses is a foolish attempt to avoid facing the issue of brokenness within the world.
The fact that in the past week I have heard these sorts of comments made is unacceptable. Redemption reaches into every part of this fallen world, from our fractured relationship with God to physical ailments to mental discordance.
My prayer is that as we begin to acknowledge brokenness we will begin to have our eyes opened to the healing and restoration that comes only through Christ.