My intense struggle with anxiety began when I was in college. For the first time in my life, I began to really struggle and toil against the desires of my flesh and the Spirit’s work in me. God was calling me to Himself through the Spirit and the community/church I found myself in, but my past lingered very near and I didn’t know how to let it all go and run to God.
This anxiety followed me after graduation into a season of wandering. I was in a six-year relationship that did not honor God, and didn’t feel right in the least. But because I was concerned about what others might think and because marrying him was the next “right” step, I couldn’t fathom ending the relationship. I struggled and toiled over what to do for months. Finally, God made a way, and the relationship ended.
Anxiety continued to be a constant friend as I began dating my now-husband. Our history together is a twisted one – full of memories that I would still like to forget. But I knew in my spirit that this man was who God wanted me to be with, and despite how fearful I was for how we would work together and again, what people would think, I said yes and we began creating a life together.
And as you might be able to guess, my motherhood journey has been clouded by anxiety too. I used to think marriage and motherhood created the anxiety I have, but through maturing in Christ and realizing the severity of sin, I can see that God used marriage and motherhood (and my days in college) to slowly reveal the anxiety that’s been there all along. Sure, these moments in time have certainly heightened my anxiety, but that stirring and need for control has always been there.
My anxiety used to surprise me. The person I thought I was – strong, confident, outspoken, opinionated, and bold – didn’t seem to allow for any room for doubt, worry, or fear. I had this perception of myself that just wasn’t reality. And now, looking back, I can see that anxiety helped to keep my mask on. Because if I took the mask off, then people would see how completely broken and ridden with fear I actually was.
I won’t say that I welcome anxiety now, by any means, but I do see this weakness of mine as a strength in a way. For whatever reason, the struggle with anxiety that I have is always very close, and therefore I’ve learned to keep Jesus even closer. Today I wanted to look back on my journal throughout the first year of Campbell & Everett’s life just to see how far I’ve come with my prayers against anxiety, and I stumbled upon some interesting takeaways from Philippians 4.
Paul commands us in this chapter to “Rejoice in the Lord always,” (v4). This verse has bothered me many times in my life. For an anxious person, it’s very easy to NOT rejoice. And so my objections tend to go like this (and maybe yours do too):
Always? ALWAYS? Really, Paul? I’m supposed to rejoice in the Lord at all times?
What about when I don’t meet the goals I’ve set for myself?
What about when I’m lonely? Left out? Forgotten?
What about when someone I trusted totally and completely betrays me?
What about when I doubt and wonder if God sees what’s happening?
What about when I feel like a failure?
Or when I yell at my children?
Or when I wish I could be alone?
I’m supposed to rejoice in the Lord then?
What about when the finances don’t add up?
What about when sleep evades me?
What about when I can’t muster up the energy to do another load of laundry, let alone make meals for everyone every day?
What about when my baby died too soon?
What about when my plans fail?
What about when I lose control?
What about when…
And Paul’s response (I believe) would always be… “Yep. Even then.”
And here’s why:
“The Lord is at hand.”Philippians 4:5
Do you know what that means? It means God is here. And because He is here, we can rejoice despite our anxieties and circumstances.
Paul goes on to tell us exactly what to do when we’re anxious and worried, and would you believe it? This formula actually works.
“…do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”Philippians 4:6-7
We must rejoice in God.
And then we must pray to God.
Then we must tell God what we need.
And the peace of God will guard our hearts and minds.
Why does it work? Because it’s a promise of God. And He doesn’t make promises He doesn’t intend to keep.
What this requires from an anxious person is learning to surrender. I know surrender doesn’t come naturally to anyone, especially someone dealing with anxiety, but it’s important to recognize that the opposite of anxiety is true surrender. The world tells us the answer to anxiety is trying harder and being better, but God teaches that the answer is to fully and completely surrender.
A constant surrender is what He’s after. And for this overwhelmed, anxious soul of mine, that is an answered prayer. Because regardless of what I do or don’t do, regardless of what happens or doesn’t happen, God is able to give me peace that will surpass all understanding and will guard my heart and mind.
My fear is not stronger than the promises of God. And so daily, with anxiety close by, I choose to believe these truths, knowing He will make good on what He’s said.
Logan is a part of our Christ’s Church family and also happens to be married to Spencer, our Men’s Discipleship Minister. She loves writing and reading and raising lovely little women.
Pictured here with her husband, Spencer, and daughters, Campbell, Everett, and Gritton.