If you’ve followed my blog posts since the beginning, you are no stranger to my journey, especially to the parts I’ve shared of my walk with Christ. I’ve shared my suicidal thoughts and depression, my troubles during my teen years, and some life-shaping, hard lessons learned over the years through past posts. I would love to say I conquered all the scary and real hardships.
But no, I still struggle with things that people don’t love to talk about. They like to get swept under the rug, or handled so they are no longer a reoccurring problem. Some things just don’t go away.
I’ve even heard people say they don’t understand why they still struggle with things, like anxiety, depression, ADHD, etc., if God is all-powerful. Why doesn’t He take away the thing that ails us? Why doesn’t He take away cancer? Why did He allow a pandemic to sweep the world? Why did He allow someone to enter a school and take away innocent lives? Why did He allow mass genocide to happen? Essentially, people are asking how can we serve a god who claims to be all-powerful, always good, and all-knowing that allows these bad things to happen?
I don’t have the answers to why each bad circumstance or situation happens. But I do rest in knowing the Lord’s attribute of omnipotence. We serve an all-powerful, all-knowing, and always good Heavenly Father. I also rest in knowing just because God has the physical power to stop things in their tracks, it doesn’t mean He will, if it’s not according to His will. That sounds harsh to our ears that not curing someone’s terminal illness here on earth or stopping someone from entering a classroom to shoot children was not in God’s plan. And that’s hard to wrap our heads around because we are limited humans who cannot possibly fathom all the ways of the Lord.
I also have learned to be humble enough to accept that too.
We also get wrapped up in arguing with one another about the solution and forget/disagree on where the real issue lies. Evil is real and it runs rampant around the world, and one of it’s best tools is division to keep us divided from coming together. We argue over political points, opinions, selfish and flesh desires, and more instead of stepping back and kneeling before the One who can move mountains, is ready to redeem us, and remind us who reigns.
The only One who is all-powerful, all-knowing, and ALWAYS good and faithful. I recently read somewhere that God didn’t remove the obstacle from the Israelites as they were escaping slavery in Egypt, but He did make a way for them through it (i.e. the parting of the Red Sea; Exodus 14). This example gave me such peace and clarity on many things in my own life, especially dealing with my anxiety.
I first realized I had more than just your typical issues with anxiety through panic attacks in middle and high school. In addition or maybe a byproduct to anxiety, I had problems with not eating properly, social anxiety, severe shyness, and to top it off, this is when boy drama came heavily into the picture. My anxiety morphed into a larger physical manifestation in high school, which was a death sentence to my no-one-look-at-me-or-I’ll-combust-on-the-spot introverted personality. Between sophomore and junior year, I began experiencing random, all of a sudden panic attacks at school. They happened in almost all of my classes at the worst times. A few happened during church services. A handful occurred at home, and the last one I recall having that was really bad was during my freshman year in college. During those attacks, I never could get enough air, thinking my chest would explode. After they passed, my nerves were shot and I was incredibly embarrassed. Peers talking behind my back, sometimes even my friends, suspected I was faking it all for attention. That made it all worse.
Then my physical presentation for anxiety in college morphed into shooting chest pains, which were even scarier. I went to the doctor, had an EKG and exam, but nothing internally could be found. I still get this feeling from time to time even now, but I now have new anxiety symptoms. It seems I keep getting a new symptom each year as I get older.
Post-grad life experiences GI issues, feeling nauseous more than the random occasion, severe headaches, the continuation of random chest pain, ruminating and intrusive thoughts. I haven’t had a panic attack in a very long time, but who knows, maybe those are just lying in wait to get me. In hindsight, I feel like a new presentation pops up once I feel like I got an old one conquered, or found a coping mechanism.
The GI issues really sucked, and I have been battling those since last year. From changing my diet, implementing regular workouts, coming up with mind tricks to keep my mind occupied when I feel like I’m going to get sick, things have improved drastically. I don’t avoid going out to eat anymore, which I definitely missed. I’ve made progress since December and finally feel like I have that under control. However, I have been able to analyze patterns more within the past year, such as when I pick at my fingernails in public, it’s something I do when I am anxious in front of others. It’s a coping skill to distract myself that I picked up from a young age.
The thoughts at night while I’m trying to go to sleep? The ones where I basically hurt my own feelings and overanalyze things? Those are just straight lies from the devil. When the sun comes up the next day, my midnight ruminations about whether my husband loves me, if the world would be better off if I just disappeared, or pondering if I even matter to anyone else seem very small and insignificant.
When I feel anxious or worried about anything, my most recent and most effective tool set has been using Scripture to debunk those poisonous thoughts. Because that is what they are. It’s my own mind trying to trick me into thinking I have no value when in fact, I know I am a child of God and that is where my identity rests.
I know this is something I’ll probably battle all my life, but as I learn more and dive deeper into God’s Word, I don’t get angry or frustrated in the fact I have this problem. I definitely don’t blame God for this, but I do lean on Him to help me deal with my anxiety. It does get frustrating when others don’t understand that my mind just doesn’t shut off. It’s frustrating because this stems from my head and not easily seen by others. It’s not like a broken arm, or a skin disease where the issue is visible to the naked eye. The panic attacks can be witnessed, but are so easily doubted by others. It gets lonely, especially when the thought pops in my head that I am dealing with this all alone, no matter how much I confide to my family and friends.
The truth I fight the lies with is that I’ve never been alone in this on-going battle for my mind. It’s not because I’ve had great parents who helped me along the way. It’s not because my husband knows to just hold me when I’m spiraling. It’s because I have a heavenly Father who reminds me He has already won and this is just a bump in the road. It’s just something Satan is using to try to trip me up, and prevent me from furthering God’s kingdom.
It’s hard not being able to trust my own thoughts sometimes, but I cling to Proverbs 3: 5-6 when I get frustrated: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him and he will make straight your paths.”
Oh boy, if I only trusted in what I understand and see things through my own perception, especially with those thoughts telling me I am worth nothing and can do no good in this world, Satan would have won me a long time ago. I probably wouldn’t be here today if I did not put my trust in God. I notice a significant difference in my life when I pray for God’s guidance over my next move versus when I start fretting over how in the world am I going to figure out this next problem. It cuts off so much anger, resentment, heartbreak, and feeling helpless. I don’t believe I can handle anything and everything on my own. I don’t believe I can conquer any problem by myself. We were not created to live and function in life alone.
I am dependent on God because it is He who directs my path, breathes breath into my lungs, created me for a purpose, and uses me to share my experience with others so they too can see the wonderful power God demonstrates in lives. For as long as I live, “I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth,” (Psalm 34:1). When I am in the middle of a crisis, an assault of lies trying to distract me from the truth, or when my body fails me in normal routine, I will continue to praise my God who brings me through each trial. I may not escape each battle unscathed, but I will continue to praise Him for what I do have left in the triumphs. My faith in Him alone is enough to sing His praises. When it appears I have lost a round, I will praise Him anyway because I know He has already conquered this world and all this is just temporary.