I have imagined writing this post over and over, thinking and rethinking how to articulate into words my story. There is nothing terribly crazy or compelling about my unique journey with my Lord, but it is my own, each page molding and shaping me into who I am today. I have always found an excuse not to write it down, or something else to occupy my time, because truth be told, other than with the exception of the safety of a few close friends who accept me unconditionally, I loathe being vulnerable. I am a people pleaser to the core, jumping through proverbial hoops like a show dog looking for admiration from adoring fans. If they show displeasure, I change the game, add a few tricks to entertain. If I cannot please, then I simply fail to compete and hide away.
However, there has been a nagging lately that I feel down to my bones, whispering, calling me to more, pulling me out of the shadows I have lived, into the light of truth. You see, when I accepted Christ at the young age of 9, He did not promise a life of simplicity and comfort, but He did promise himself. He did not promise a life without trials, but instead a life of growth, tension and his constant presence. I am broken, in great need of my Savior. This side of heaven I know that I will continue to yearn to be whole, but I am starting to be okay with living in the tension, because it is through trials that we develop perseverance in our faith.
I was at church yesterday listening to a sermon on mental illness. The whole time fighting back tears biting my lower lip hoping no one would notice my contorted face whenever the word “anxiety” came out of the pastor’s mouth. I felt my body go clammy and cold and in my head whispering “dang it!” when the tears could no longer be contained. It was one of those messages where you feel God has you there for a reason, and I knew God had me just where he wanted me to be.
A song played, the crowd sang and stood, praising, and I sat silently sobbing. My husband knew the pain as he gently rubbed my shoulder. He above all others has witnessed my anxiety play out in different destructive ways. He has witnessed sleepless nights, panic attacks and uncontrollable sobbing when I have worked myself into a frightening delusion that I had somehow killed someone at work (never happened.) He has seen me play scenarios over and over and over and over and over ad nauseam in my head in which I purposely try to find mistakes in order to verbally crucify myself. With our most recent trials of unemployment, potential out of state move, doors closing at every turn, my anxiety has been far above baseline…
The words from the sermon “It is okay to not be ok… but it’s not okay to stay that way,” ring loudly in my head. You see, for so long I have not been okay and I have been punishing myself for it. Yesterday through the sobs I felt the whisper of my wonderful God say “I am here,” as if to remind me that in times of our greatest sorrow we can find our greatest source of strength. That strength cannot be found in me, but the one who created me. In the midst of my anxiety he reaches out to offer me something better, a peace that can only come from above.
With God as my strength I will reach out, I will speak out and we will expose my dark secrets to the light. For so long I saw getting “help” as a sign of weakness and admitting defeat, but I believe that is a lie, designed to keep me isolated in my struggles. There is nothing I can do in my own power to take my anxiety away. However, as I look upward, He changes me inward, and although I know I am a long way off from being completely transformed, through the tension God can work in my tattered heart.