“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10)
The dis-ease of anxiety can be so paralyzing, so crippling that we are often faced with unknown reflections and untrue representations of ourselves. Panic attacks, headaches, racing pulses, and difficulty breathing all limit our ability to effectively function, think clearly, and do what we know within our hearts is right – to hear the voice of God strongly. In those moments, we have a tendency to cling to fear, worry and our need for certainty. We cling to predictability in the outcome of the process. We cling to what we emotionally want, unwilling to budge, even in the face of the deep physical pain that emerges as we lose our spiritual and psychological grounding.
And paradoxically in those moments, we, too, want to surrender. Why? Because we know that anxiety proves -over and over again-that there is no peace, joy, or solid footing found in the taking on of that which we are unable and not destined to carry. We yearn to lay down the rope and end the tug of war within our hearts. We want to allow God’s providential plan to reign. Yet we may still wonder: why is it STILL so hard to truly let go? Why is it so hard to not let worry and anxiety control the fabric of our lives and decisions? Why is it so hard to have the faith to let God lead and present the best outcome for us? Like really, why do we want the burden of being our own savior?
When I think back over the course of my non-Christian days and some of my early months as a believer, I find my mind emblazoned with these questions and the memories of the destructive effects of the panic and worry I experienced on a daily basis. On many occasions, anxiety and the fear of rejection prevented me from raising my hand in class. It delayed my submission of professional reports to my supervisor that I deemed “imperfect.” It prevented me from hanging out with friends and/or colleagues, and it led to the self-consciousness I felt in dating and intimate relationships. Instead of engaging in these activities, I would quietly read or study in order to gain a vast head knowledge so I could carefully craft and write the many thoughts I had, yet were unable to express verbally. Note writing became a joy. Journaling was my friend. Working late gave me the ability to think – the one thing that always seemed to vanish when I became overwhelmed and anxious around people.
Yet over time, and specifically through Christ’s gift of salvation, the destructive effects of anxiety I once knew so predictably and intimately no longer control many aspects of my life. The Holy Spirit’s unending peace is readily available to me… to you… to us … allowing one to embrace God’s grace-filled arms through Christ’s death and resurrection. In this, I find the faithfulness of God’s heartbeat. It is that which steadies me in my most anxious moments of uncertainty and fear. It is there that my heart’s greatest desire is to be held by my God, to safely fall into His chest as He stands and I rest. In that embrace in the deepest waters, my heart beats freely. My lungs breathe with ease. And my mind thinks with clarity. When I accept this gift of peace – I find that I only need to be still… to let the Lord have His way. I only need to surrender. He will provide the rest.
Each time I find anxiety ushering me back out to the deep waters of panic and fear, I call upon God’s calming current to rush in. In those moments, I am recalibrated, refocused, and strengthened. The racket of my mind is eased so that I can hear the voice of God’s leading direction and powerfully swim to towards love’s sandy shore. It is there that I can taste the ocean’s water, now fragrant with the delicate notes of Christ’s grace and not salt. This expereience is not without sacrifice, for in the midst of taking upon His calm, I must choose to let go of everything that keeps me bound. It is, indeed, a sacrifice worth making… a surrender where anxiety cannot exist in peace’s presence. There, I find the Lord hovering over my raging waters; guiding me as I swim with the tide and not against its sanctifying strength.
Worship for Encouragement
“God’s not worried. So, why do I worry? God’s not worried. So, why do I worry? He knows what I need. He does. He does.”