The clock reads 3:30 a.m. I can’t sleep. I so want to. Sleep evades me–again.
I’m reading my journal entries from my battle with anxiety, for today is my one-year anniversary free from this stronghold.
Where did it start? I do not know. Maybe it cumulated from years of worrying, building up until the crash. The BIG crash.
People said I should exercise more to relieve my stress. So, my husband and I did, but I crashed anyway that day on the couch in my living room. My husband, resigned and perplexed, suggested I call a friend.
Marla immediately drove over and sat on the couch with me–me with my panicked eyes and wild hair. And she loved me right where I was – down in the pit, strained and desperate, clinging to whatever she could toss my way.
To the doctor I went. The diagnosis was anxiety. I didn’t want to hear it. Weren’t Jesus followers supposed to have it together? I guess not this one.
My mind raced like a car through the interstates of a large city, exiting and entering, over and over, never stopping. Hope was crushed repeatedly on those roads.
For five years I lived and depended on the meds my doctor gave me. I could sleep and function, so life improved. Still, the anxiety reared and the root of the problem remained ignored.
It was humiliating to call in a refill every month and hear the enemy whisper, “Failure.”
I reduced the dosage (with my doctor’s approval) by cutting the pills in half then in quarters until it became a crumbled mess – much like me – yet I could not let them go. Without them, I’d watch the ceiling fan whirl round and round, while my husband rested in blissful sleep. Other times I’d toss and turn as the clock ticked painfully slow: 12:01, 1:08, 2:37, 3:15, 4:46. During the day, I’d put one foot in front of the other, mechanically going through the motions only to return to my belligerent bed that evening.
I realized I would never be free unless I admitted the truth: I was not trusting God. With practical tools from books and The Book, I started my journey to trust Him and Him only in this area.
Loaded with scriptures on index cards and advice from books, I laid down that first night and read each Bible verse. Every time a wave of anxiety roiled inside, I’d replace it with scriptures and affirmations of His love.
The battle had begun.
When I’d wake in the middle of the night, God, the enemy, and I battled in a bedroom upstairs in my home while the rest of Middle Tennessee slept on their Sealys and Tempur-Pedics like normal people do.
I told God I wanted to quit. Yet, I needed to believe Him, to take Him at His word.
I would stand in that bedroom and repeat God’s words back to him and whatever dark forces filled that space:
“It is for freedom that Christ has set me free, I will stand firm and not be burdened by a yoke of slavery again.”
One night when I didn’t feel anything but wanted to believe everything God said, I wrote these 10 affirmations.
- I have peace.
- I have a sound mind.
- I can do all things through Christ.
- I have self-control.
- I am loved by my Father
- I am wonderfully and fearfully made.
- I am clothed with strength and dignity.
- I have the power of the Holy Spirit in me.
- I have a Helper.
- I serve an All-Powerful God.
About two weeks in, I went for a bike ride (still trying to wear myself out). With the trail void of others, I cried out to God, “I need to know you hear me. I need to know You are with me.”
As I rounded the bend, along the bike path at 2:00 in the afternoon, five deer appeared. They did not skitter away. They stood planted in that spot and looked at me, and I look at them as I slowed my bike. It was if they were saying, “Do you see now?” As I pedaled away, tears spilled and a lightness filled me.
God had heard my prayers. God was with me. He was setting me free. I knew it in my soul.
Little by little, the weight of the anxiety lessened and peace enlarged in its place.
Do I never worry now? No. Do I never have an anxious thought? No. But I do know how to deal with it and Who to call for help–and in His name is abundant peace.
If you are struggling with anxiety, here are two books I recommend and some scriptures from my index cards:
Mydlo, Mo, Overcoming Anxiety. (2015). Lake Mary, Florida: Siloam
Jantz, Gregory L, Overcoming Anxiety, Worry, and Fear. (2011). Grand Rapids, MI: Reveal
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. Galatians 5:1 (NIV)
The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the spirit is life and peace. Romans 8:6 (NIV)
We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:5 (ESV)
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:9 (NIV)
Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. 2 Peter 1:2 (NIV)
Abundant peace belongs to those who love Your instruction; nothing makes them stumble. Psalm 119:165 (HCSB)
Abundant grace and peace to you, dear friend.