Philippians 4: 6 – 7 “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus”
Anxiety, stress, worry and fear have been the four consistent shadows in my life for as long as I can remember. I would hide behind a cheerful smile fooling those around me and myself that I was ok. The truth was the four dark shadows were breaking me, tormenting me and destroying my fullness of life. No matter the situation anxiety, stress, worry and fear could turn even the most positive situation into a living nightmare. Since my list is a long one I will share just two otherwise we would be here all week. I have a fear of dogs which is ironic considering I live on a farm but that is the thing with the four shadows they don’t have to logically make sense. The bigger the dog equals more fear (and no I wasn’t bitten or attacked by a dog) the fear comes from a sense of vulnerability, powerlessness and lack of predictability of the situation which results in tingling palms, racing heart, feeling sick to my stomach and sometimes tears. The second is my personal insecurities played out in many social situations like a party, for example, with a million questions swirling around in my head.
“Have I chosen the right outfit?” Even though I had spent days previously going through everything in my wardrobe, needing an entirely different wardrobe, asking friends as to what they would wear even asking google for suggestions on appropriate clothing.
“When did you gain that weight?” that is not even there but due to my anxious mindset I had now ‘gained’ 100kg overnight.
“Will I have anyone to talk to or will I come off as clingy, needy and desperate?” forgetting that the whole point is to enjoy each other’s company, to let your hair down and dance the night away.
These questions and many more come like tidal waves that don’t stop but continue during and after the party with suffocating strength. Robbing me of my joy. My fun. My good memories. My peace. My life.
Backing down and away had become a way of life. The four shadows of anxiety, stress, worry and fear though despised were constantly fuelled giving them way too much power and control and so it become my identity like I had no other option but to let it consume me.
Rock bottom for me was one day this year, with tears streaming down my face, I couldn’t find one single thing I liked about myself, not one. It was a dark place to be as I struggled to find a way out even contemplating suicide. The truth is Jesus is not afraid of the darkness. He is with you, boxing gloves ready, whispering “you are mine and I will never let you go.”
Joshua 1:9 “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go”
Enough was enough. I wanted my joy, my fun, my good memories, my peace and my life back. Even though I didn’t know what that would look like. I decided to start fighting back with Jesus’ help.
I have counselling to loosen the strong grip they have had on my life for so long. I have always thought it would be a journey of transformation in a three – way triangle: the counsellor, Jesus and me because without Jesus being a part of the journey I won’t be able to experience true freedom and healing.
Some days I have a win (finally understanding I am truly loved) some days I get knocked down (and end up in tears). The point is like boxing you get up (with Jesus’ help) and keep fighting and never give up.
In Divergent by Veronica Roth, the character Four (Theo James) says two quotes (film and book) about fear. In these quotes are the truth that because we are all human and as a result we all have a tendency to be anxious, stress, worry and fear. But we have the choice whether we let it control us and define us or despite the four shadows we are going to live and make choices as though it is a beautiful sunny day. Some anxiety, stress, worry and fear is healthy as it is our natural instinct kicking in helping us make wiser, empowered decisions. But it is not healthy at levels where it renders us powerless to live a full, meaningful life.
There is always hope. Hope can still burn bright even in the midst of our dark seasons. We can fight back. I urge you not make what your struggles with your identity; your everything. You are so much more than your present struggles. Are you ready to fight with Jesus, at your side, who has your back and a way out?
http://livin.org.au/ – It Ain’t Weak to Speak