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Anxiety is Real - Even for Christians, and We Need to Acknowledge It

When I was 22, I had my first panic attack.

I was at work, watching the bubbles from a Diet Pepsi seep between the cubes of ice that rested in the glass intended to satisfy the thirst of the bald man sitting at table four.

Those bubbles seemed to take forever to settle into the nooks of the ice cubes, as the ambient noise of chatter fogged around me. No longer able to clearly make out the conversations of the customers enjoying their lunch, beads of sweat began to line the back of my neck, trickling down their respective pathways on my back.

As if cued by an unknown conductor, my heart began to knock on my chest - its raps growing more forceful by the second, causing my chest to seemingly shrink to the size of a pea.

My world became a different setting; an illustration masked by hazy fog co-existing with reality. Was I having a heart attack - was I going to pass out?

"Are you okay?" One of my coworkers noticed my short, heavy attempts to breathe, and the odd position of my hand, which had thoughtlessly found itself hovering over my eager-to-escape heart.

"I don't know. Can you, um, just, take this?"

I barely got the sentence out as I slid the Diet Pepsi her way and nearly bolted through the kitchen and out the back door. The crisp, autumn air smacked my face as my hands reached for the side of the dumpster. Using them as a crutch, I leaned against the grimy giant garbage disposal, and leaned over - certain I was going to yak up my breakfast.

The beating wouldn't stop.

My chest squeezed tighter.

My lungs yearned for any sort of normalcy.

"Panic attack?" That same coworker had followed me outside.

"No, I don't...I don't...I have no idea."

"Yeah, girl, it kinda seems like it. Here, come sit down and I'll make you some mint tea. Everything okay?"

Unable to formulate any of my jumbled thoughts into sentences, I nodded and followed her directions. I nearly collapsed onto an adjacent milk crate, holding my head, and allowed sobs to escape my quivering lips.

What in the world was happening? A panic attack? But, what in the world was I panicking about?

Unfortunately, this wasn't the last time I would experience a panic attack - it was just the beginning. However, I am grateful for my coworker who was able to comfort me and to teach me helpful tactics to help ease the overwhelming sense of anxiety that overtakes my body for whatever reason it wants.

If you think I'm being dramatic, you probably have never experienced anxiety before.

Here's the thing, my friends.

Anxiety is a very much real thing.

And, I don't wish it upon anybody.

It is crippling. It is daunting. It is consuming.

It is a thief of all hope.

And, just because I am a Christian, doesn't mean I'm immune to it.

I grew up knowing that I had a Savior who loved me no matter what. I had Jeremiah 29:11 written on my walls and in my heart, verbatim. I knew that God would protect me in any and all situations.

And yet, I still felt fear. I was consumed with worry. I began to lose sight of any sort of light at the end of the tunnel.

Just because I knew these truths, didn't mean I wasn't going to come face-to-face with these fears.

In fact, the enemy loves to prey on Christians by messing with their minds. He loves to crawl in our mental spaces, lurking and ready to cut any sign of blossoming hope. He knows that if he can steal our hope, he has the best possibility of hindering us from being who God intends us to be, and seeing the blessings God has in store for us.

Whether we truly understand where our anxiety comes from or not, it is always rooted from fear. Our mind begins to play scenario after scenario, causing our body to go into fight mode. Nausea, dizziness, loss of hearing, blurred vision, shortness of breath - these are just some of the responses our bodies make.

Even the Bible recognizes that anxiety is indeed, real. I've seen so many "Christian" posts talking about how anxiety and depression aren't real. To people who don't deal with these feelings, they may seem like far-fetched ideas. They may look at someone with anxiety and try to understand, with immense failure, why they can't "just get over it".

There are many scriptures that actually deal with the word "anxiety". So, my friends, if it isn't real - why would God take the time to ensure that it belonged in His Word?

So, my Christian friends, do NOT beat yourself up if you experience anxiety.

You may not be able to prevent its crippling claws from latching themselves onto your body - BUT, you CAN learn to fight back.

You see, the Word confirms that anxiety and fear will be felt by our human bodies, but it also equips us with the exact remedies that we should use to fight back against these emotions of fear and worry.

In 1 Peter 5:7, the Word tells us to cast our anxiety upon Him, because He cares for us.

We may not be able to handle the feeling of fear - but He can.

Anxiety and fear derives from a place of trying to figure out how our situation is going to play out. It comes from this place of control - where we think we have to have it all figured out.

Casting our anxiety on Him gives up our own worry to control our life, and allows God to take the driver's seat.

So, I started writing down all of my fears. Every last one of them. From spiders to dying. I started praying that God would take each and every last one of them from my control. I prayed that my mind would not be consumed by the overwhelming fear of what would happen tomorrow, or in two weeks, or in ten years. I prayed that God would take care of me today, in this very moment.

It's not easy, but it's a choice we need to make.

It's a choice to renew our mindsets to focus on what God has for us - even if we don't see it.

It's a choice to lift our shaking hands and let go of control.

It's a choice to fight back.

"And we know that in ALL things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." Romans 8:28

I don't know what you're going through, or what fear the enemy is trying to keep you fixated on, but God promises to take care of us. He promises to work ALL things out for our good. All we have to do in the meantime is love Him, love others, and believe what His word says.

Acknowledge anxiety like you would acknowledge a bully amongst your friend group.

Look at it face-to-face, and do not allow its toxic state to stay any longer.

Never fear the next chapter - the Author knows

exactly how it's supposed to go.


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