These past two weeks, I found out more than I ever wanted to know about this ill-fitting cloak labeled anxiety.
I wore drooping eyes, wrinkled lines of worry, and a thick, blinding, unbearably heavy garment.
Many times, I’ve talked with friends about their fears and troubles. I’ve attempted a couple mini intervention sessions. I’ve given pep talks. I’ve given an ear. I’ve given my two cents (which are hardly worth that). I’ve given compassion.
Now, I can give understanding.
Previously, the only thing I understood was that this cloak of anxiety didn’t look good on the ones I loved.
It isn’t a good look for anyone, and it isn’t from God.
To be honest, the reality of anxiety’s death-bringing power and unforgivably tight grip on my mind didn’t hit me until tonight, while sitting quietly in my room, listening to worship music.
In those hours, I finally let my Savior give me something new to wear…
[Below are a series of my previous rapid-fire, fear fueled thoughts]
“Well, wait. God what if you didn’t mean for this to happen?”
“What if I missed your will? Did I act too quickly?”
“What if I made the wrong decision?”
“What if this was never your intention?”
“Did you speak to me and I tuned you out? Did I ignore the voice of your Spirit?”
“What is wrong with me? Why can’t I control my thoughts? Are these thoughts from you or Satan or myself?”
I could go on, and if you’ve ever had anxiety, I’m sure you could add a couple hundred more “what ifs” to the list.
But that was the old, pathetic record, broken by the lies of the Enemy that relentlessly resounded in my mind.
At times, the sharp, seething song was loud enough for me to say “Hey, that’s not the right track; I better put in a new record.”
But most of the time, anxiety’s lies were a twisted, lingering lullaby, soft, repetitious melodies that slowly dulled my Christ- awareness and drug me into a world that wasn’t Reality.
Reality, for a Christian, is power.
Reality is the mind of Christ.
It’s knowing the thoughts of God because the Holy Spirit knows the thoughts of God and the Holy Spirit lives in me.
It’s having a sure-fire way out of anxiety.
The Reality for you and for me is salvation–from ourselves, from the Enemy, from this world.
I am offered a Savior, a God who once and forever continues to say, with stretched out arms, “Those anxious thoughts, Alexis, nail them here and watch as they shrivel up beneath the power of my Cross. Those fears and questions and thoughts of ‘I can’t do this, I’m not good enough, I’m hopeless and incapable,’ those rotten, poisonous lies, none of which are from me, are to forever burn in the place you will never go.
But, you have to trust me.
Look at that uncomfortable cloak you keep putting on yourself. It doesn’t fit you well!
I would never allow such a thing.
For you, Alexis, I have the fabric of freedom.
But, You have to submit your thoughts to me. You have to continually, consciously keep your eyes on me.”
So, I shifted my gaze upward and began thinking on “whatsoever things are true.” (Philippians 4)
And, here’s what I found:
True: If I choose not to worry about anything, but instead, pray about everything; tell God my needs, and thank him for his answers. I will experience God’s peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. His peace will keep my thoughts and my heart quiet and at rest as I trust in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)
True: God takes the time to beautifully clothe all the flowers of this Earth with vibrant colors, and I am far more important to Him than flowers, so my life too will be clothed with His beauty. (Matthew 6)
True: I can add nothing to my life by being anxious. (Matthew 6)
True: The Lord will never forsake His faithful Ones, so He won’t forsake me. Jesus is faithful even when I am unfaithful and undeserving. Christ’s mercies and kindness renew every morning. I can never be lost to His Spirit. (Psalm 9, Lamentations 3, Romans 8)
True: “When I go through deep waters and great trouble, God will be with me. When I go through rivers of difficulty, I will not drown! When I walk through the fire of oppression, I will not be burned up—the flames will not consume me. For the Lord my God, my Savior, the Holy One of Israel says I am precious to Him and honored, and He says ‘I love you.'” (Isaiah 43:1-4)
Here’s the zinger:
True: Nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. (Romans 8:38)
So, to my friends struggling with anxiety and fear right now: I know it’s hard to to put out the fiery, fear-fueled thoughts. It’s frustrating when worry seeps into your mind and short-circuits your joy.
I’ve heard the broken record, cringed each time the needle rubbed against a scratch on the track.
But, you should know–know it even when fear tells you it’s a lie– that you hold the key to an anxious-free, worry-free day. We’re free to open up Christ’s closet, put on the fabric of freedom and truth and cast off all the rest.
We are free to choose to walk in peace, to laugh without fear of the future because neither our concerns for today nor our worries about tomorrow can separate us from God’s love.