Being a Christian with anxiety. The topic is entering conversation more and more and the reviews are mixed. On one side of the spectrum: anxiety is pointless and foolish if you understand God’s goodness and provision. Conversely, we are flawed humans and we should feel open to reveal our vulnerability. When we squish down our feelings and fears, we only will feel more isolated. God uses our shortcomings for His good and fills in for our weaknesses with His strength.
Personally, I have had periodic bouts of anxiety during the past few years. One moment I feel perfectly fine, but then suddenly, I feel a rush of panic and a feeling of anxiety that I struggle to shake. I go silent on the outside with a million thoughts and concerns rushing around on the inside. I then become guilty of having these feelings because I want to be always encouraging and always loving. These feeling cause me to think I am doing the opposite of loving and encouraging and not like myself at all. I feel like a shell of myself. I have difficulty finding the cause and try so hard to push it aside as quickly as possible or hide it all together from those around me (though those closest to me always seem to suspect something is wrong anyway). My sweet husband can tell when I am in a “funk” and I just want so badly for him and those that I allow to see a glimpse of this side of me to never have to worry about what is wrong or have to be so patient with me. It’s a rough cycle I put myself through.
I have started to write down these thoughts on the subject a few times over, but never put it all together for some reason or another. Allowing others to read all of this is hard for me. Because I want so desperately to be the person that others can count on to love them well and encourage them. I want to be the person that anyone can lay their burdens on. But we all have burdens to lay out. If I want others to be vulnerable and grow through it, I have to do the same.
So why do these feelings happen at all? I have been saved and am confident that my Savior is more than capable of overcoming every fear, insecurity, and shortcoming. I do not doubt that I have a deep, unshakeable joy that comes from only the Lord. So why do I become so anxious when I know that can “cast all of my fears and worries on Him?”
I have recently come to the conclusion that I don’t think the “why” is as important, but more the takeaway. The takeaway, in my opinion, is that good can come from this too.
The truth is: I am not perfect. I am flawed. Sometimes I feel extremely anxious for no good reason and that is okay. No, I should not be complacent and let it prevent me from doing what Christ is calling me to be and do. However, it is okay because I am confident that God is capable and in control. I do not doubt that God uses anything and everything. Thus, I do not doubt that the glorification of Christ can come from this too.
Even in my most anxious moments, I know that if I allow it, God uses those twisted and uncomfortable feelings to draw me closer to Him. It is such a clear illustration of my dependence on Him. I am weak and flawed and messy, but He is not. No matter what I am going through and the feelings I am experiencing, founded or not, He is there. God is waiting for me to run to Him and find an incomparable comfort and peace that can only come from Him, no other person or thing.
Laura Ortberg Turner writes, “A healthy anxiety can remind me constantly and fruitfully of my joyful dependence on and confidence in God. When I feel fear, I can allow God's good grace to draw me to him and be reminded of his sufficiency in all things. I don't need to draw a direct connection between my spiritual health and my experience of anxiety when I trust God to use my anxiety for good.”
Two verses really speak to my heart while writing this that I think sums it all up:
'Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.' Isaiah 41:10
And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28
I don’t have to feel like a failure because I sometimes feel anxious. God uses everything for good and gives us strength when there is no person or thing to give it and I am overwhelmingly thankful for that.
Director of Spiritual Development / Central Church