Resting in God’s Sovereignty over My Anxiety

I’ve come to understand that the Lord is using every valley for my good and for His glory.

The older I get, the more I realize that my struggle with anxiety and depression has been at the center of the circumstances God has used in the past three decades to strengthen my faith and to increase my desire to know Him through His Word. All of the times that I consider to be the most deeply formational in my faith have occurred in the valleys. After all, aren’t trials are the very means that God uses to sanctify us?

 

At ten, it looked like a young girl in the backseat of the car, heart racing, mind reeling, with prayers for safety whispered on repeat. I was sure that the moment I stopped praying, we would crash. 

At fifteen, it looked like months of deep sadness. Emptiness, loneliness, loss, and the choking fear of being left, unwanted. I felt guilty for grieving ten years too late for a dad I never really knew. 

At twenty, it looked like cold-sweat fear if I didn’t feel my unborn baby move. Intense unease if the house wasn’t perfectly clean. Crippling guilt if a workout was missed. If I had a headache, it was probably a brain tumor. Was it my turn for loss? For failure? For death? 

At twenty-five it looked like panic attacks in the car; panic attacks in my college classes; panic attacks at night, during the day, with my husband, and alone. A constant cycle of work, panic, rest, panic, repeat. I never attempted self-harm, but one night in my kitchen, alone and distraught, I wondered how close to the edge I was. I wondered if we should move the kitchen knives. I wondered if I was safe with me

At thirty it looked like heart palpitations, G.I. issues, migraines, and insomnia. Mental paralysis over simple decisions. What if I don’t get the cleaning done? What if the kids miss bathtime again? What is this pain? Do I have cancer? Is this it? Is this where it all falls apart? Lord, please take this away!

At thirty-five it looked like exhaustion. Anger. A sense of oppressive, unbearable weight. Looking at the life I loved, I failed to find joy. Tired. Afraid. Tired. Afraid. How can I take care of six children? I can’t. Failing. Falling. 

I came to a breaking point at thirty-seven years old. I sat in front of a room full of happy children and energetic adults, as I led songs for Vacation Bible School. Though I loved the Lord, my family, and my church, I felt absolutely nothing. Zero. Blank. 

I knew it was time to get help. So I did. Ah, anxiety and depression, my old enemy. We’ve been together for a long time. 

But, you know what it looks like now, at forty? Anxiety and depression is my thorn, my trial, my friend.

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