I have a secret. I am learning, however, to be more open about it, because it shows the power of the gospel in my life.
I live with anxiety.
At times it has been crippling. My most difficult bout with anxiety was last Fall. What began as a fun family movie night ended with me in so much distress that I could barely walk upstairs. With a high heart rate, a tight chest, tremors that wouldn’t ease, and clothes soaked from sweat, I thought for sure I was going to die. We went to the ER the following morning and I was told that I was having an acute (severe) panic attack.
It felt embarrassing.
I couldn’t get out of bed for a week. I couldn’t handle more stimulation than maybe a TV show and a small conversation with my husband. My kids overwhelmed me. Texts overwhelmed me.
I was powerless and felt like a slave to my own body and my frantic thoughts.
If you’re already thinking this sounds like a foreign problem to you, keep reading. This is for you too. For others, you know this battle well. It is burdensome. It affects not only our own minds, bodies, and decisions, but it also affects our most treasured relationships, compounding the shame. Despite my anxiety and shame, this season became a beautiful treasure and gift to me. God showed me three specific things that display His power and His deep love for us.
God gave us community for a purpose.
Acts 2:42-47 paints a beautiful picture of what community in Christ can look like. They devoted themselves to the Apostles’ teaching, they were in awe of God together, and there was a commonality among them because of Jesus. And whenever there was a need, they were there for one another.
During this time, the Father provided for us through His church like crazy. My husband had several people text him daily telling him they were praying for our family. Our community group began dropping meals off to take the load off of my sweet husband. Talk about humbling! Thinking about it now still makes me tear up. They displayed God’s love to us so tangibly.
With something like anxiety and many other real life problems, it is tempting to keep it to ourselves and not allow others into our hurts. But when we take the risk and show others who we are, we give an opportunity for them to love us the way Jesus loves us. We get to truly experience church the way God designed it.
God is unashamed of broken people.
When I was hurting and sweating, and felt like I was going crazy, I was so ashamed of myself. I wondered, “Why do I feel this way when I know that I have hope in Christ?” and “If I just had more faith, would this go away?”
But He was so kind and gentle to me! He was unashamed of my brokenness.
The morning it all started, the Holy Spirit led me to memorize Nahum 1:7. “The Lord is good; He is a stronghold in troubled times. He knows those who take refuge in Him.” This became an anchor for my soul. I said it over and over again.
And it didn’t stop there! He also led me to memorize Psalm 23. It seemed that He just wouldn’t leave me alone, He just smothered me in grace. I can’t fully explain it, but He pursued me and was not ashamed of my complete helplessness and brokenness.
In fact, I am learning that He loves it when we come to Him broken, not like super-spiritual people who think they’ve got it all together. We are dependent children that need our Father to provide for all our needs.
God is faithful to His words.
As I memorized and prayed Psalm 23, God opened my eyes to see Him more clearly.
The Holy Spirit gave me confident assurance that Jesus is my Shepherd. Jesus paved the way for me to have His righteousness. In the presence of all of my enemies (and when I was His enemy), He became the Passover Lamb, the feast for sinners like me that are starving and dying with no hope. His life, death, and resurrection abundantly satisfies my thirsty and hungry soul.
It is because of Jesus that, despite the pain and all the hurt this world has to offer, goodness and mercy will follow me forever
– because He Himself is good and merciful.
He didn’t make my heart rate go down, but He gave me His peace.
He didn’t make my dizziness go away, but He showed me that He is the rock that my faith stands on.
He didn’t make my body strong and able to complete daily tasks, but He strengthened my hope and my assurance in His love, His power, and His goodness instead of my own.
He proved to me that His promises indeed never fail and set me free to trust and depend on Him whether I feel like I have it all together or not. We were created for this kind of dependence on Him. We were meant to trust His words, walk in faith, abide in Him, and know His faithfulness.
I wish I could give you a formula for how to experience God. But the fact is that His comforting presence comes when we are desperate for Him. If we don’t go through a valley, or if we ignore the valley we are already in, we will not see that we need Him.
Great story, now what?
Friends, shame and fear are liars. They tell us to keep the “ugly” of our lives to ourselves, which keeps us in a prison of shame and fear. Jesus wants to set us free! I encourage you to ponder these questions:
- Who are the people that you are real with? Are you being honest in community? Do you allow others to serve you and do you serve others?
- When you are struggling with temptation, sin, anxiety, loneliness, or any other thing, do you come to God with your brokenness? Do you trust that He cares for you? Do you spend time seeking Him in His Word and in prayer?
- What is your story? How have you seen and known God’s power and goodness through the gospel?
There are no “cookie-cutter” relationships with God. Each one is as unique as the people He has made. If you are willing, comment below to share about God’s faithfulness to you!
This is just part of my story of how God is changing my life. It’s real and a bit raw, but it’s one of the many ways that I have experienced the “power of God for salvation to everyone who believes…” (Romans 1:16). This is the Gospel: God’s mercy toward those in misery and need, given in Jesus, and sealed with the Holy Spirit to the glory of God forever and ever.