“I’m a really anxious gal,” I so quickly admit to any trusted friend or even a soul I barely know. I slap “WARNING: Worried” stickers on my chest with a hearty thump.
It’s both an apology and a believed identity offered alongside all the other facts that make me, me:
“Hi! I’m a college student. I love Jesus. I’m married to my best friend. I love dogs. In my free time I like to read and write and drink coffee.
Also, I am anxious all the time.”
Up until recently, I’ve thought the way I worry was preprogrammed in my wiring. My brain, forever churning, was the culprit. It’s why I couldn’t ever relax, why I over-analyzed, why I believed the worst about people and situations even when I had no reason to doubt. Why I could have entire imagined conversations with loved ones in my mind and then sincerely believe they were angry with me. Why some mornings it was just plain exhausting to be awake and alone with my thoughts.
I’ve blamed God for the way he fashioned this brain of mine. In some of my worst moments, I’ve tearfully asked, “Why am I like this?” or “Will I always be this way?” or the worst: “Why doesn’t she have to deal with this? Do you love me as much as you do her?”
This semester, I fully confided in the girls in my discipleship group–something I had yet to do with anyone other than God, Dellan, or my mom. Bringing my weary heart into the light was deeply refreshing. I am a HUGE verbal processor, and these precious girls allowed me to talk as much as I wanted about the burdens I was carrying. It was during one of our chats that the Holy Spirit, in kindness, spurred a brand new thought from my lips:
“This isn’t how it’s supposed to be; my mind won’t work like this in heaven one day.”
Wow, right? What a healing word. Someday, I will live as God intended back in the Garden. I will live without any worry that I’m fully known and fully loved. I will be able to have relationship with others without insecurity or fear. It is then that I will be my truest self; free of any anxiety, I will fully be who he created me to be.
My mind is sick with the impact of sin today, yes, but not for long.
And God? He didn’t create me for anxiety. He didn’t arrange my brain to distrust and fear. His intention has always been to rescue me from my sinful state and teach me to be more like Jesus–to prepare me for the treasures of heaven. He lovingly works to make me new even today.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
2 Corinthians 5: 17 (ESV)
For these reasons, I refuse to continue claiming anxiety as a part of who I am and will instead treat it as what it truly is: sin, a devastating effect of the darkness that seeped into the world long ago. And like every other trace of sin, it will be wiped out by Jesus one day.
I’ve been asking God just how I can fight worrisome thoughts and increase my trust in him until then. And in the past 24 hours, friends, he has so clearly answered my prayers.
Right before bed last night, Dellan received an email from one of our favorite authors, Jefferson Bethke, about anxiety. He said that as much as the church likes to ignore it, it’s definitely real and needs to be fought with truth. He encouraged his subscribed readers to study Matthew 6 and let it be a comfort to their hearts.
Today, when I was driving D to work, the lyrics from Kings Kaleidoscope‘s song, “Seek Your Kingdom” struck me like never before:
See the lilies
How they grow
They don’t work or
Buy their clothes
But if God, by His grace
Clothes the grass with great array
Then how much more
Is there in store when I…
Seek your Kingdom
Seek your righteousness
I’ve heard this song many many times, but I’ve never noticed before today that the lyrics are straight from Matthew 6.
Then, I went to Caribou Coffee this morning to read my Bible and journal for a while. I opened up my Bible reading plan for the day and just had to smile to myself. It instructed me to read Genesis 20, 21, and 22, as well as Matthew 6:19-34.
I see you, God.
His bringing me to these verses today is why I finally decided to write about my anxiety. All glory to him!
Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
Matthew 6: 25-34 (ESV)
Let’s claim these promises even today, dear ones. We are his! Doubt, struggle, wrestle, fall flat on your face, but keep fighting to believe that a good God holds you in his hands. I’m stumbling and learning right alongside you.
We are not anxious people. We are people loved by God. He feeds us, gives us water to drink, and clothes us. We are so precious to him. He will take care of our every need. All he asks of us is to seek him and his kingdom, because he is doing all the rest. Hallelujah!
I’d love to hear how God is working in your life–regarding anxiety or otherwise! Leave a comment below.