Everyone has some amount of anxiety. Everyone. Whether it's just the occasional butterflies in your tummy, or if you have full blown panic attacks regularly, or anything in between, we all know what it feels like to be anxious. I'm no exception...I know a thing or two about anxiety...hooooo boy!
Aside from some of the traumas I mentioned in my testimony, I struggled with anxiety in my day to day life. I was medicated for quite some time and was one of those individuals that needed Xanax in my purse for those panic attacks that struck whilst driving, at the grocery store, in the middle of church, etc.
Anxiety is scary. It is all-consuming. It is debilitating for some. Some people live in fear of leaving their homes lest they a panic attack sneak up on them in public. They are unpredictable and seemingly without cause.
For me, personally, a panic attack usually started with a tightening in my chest. My heart rate would accelerate and my breathing would soon follow. My mind would begin to race and if I didn't recognize this as the onset of an attack, I would spiral out of control. Without a pill and some positive self-talk, I'd begin struggling to breathe and crying uncontrollably and become so completely terrified that I became totally incapable of any kind of functioning. Forget being a mother when one of these suckers hit! If I did manage to talk myself down, the best I got was a mild state of panic, or as many like to refer to it, a fight-or-flight state. In this case, I was on edge, often seeming angry, until the panic wore off on it's own.
I tell you what, people, that is no way to live.
So, what changed? My perspective did. It was not easy by any means, the process or the decision to embark on the journey. You see, it's more comfortable to say "I have no control over this" than to take responsibility because if you don't have control, then it's not your fault. I thought for a long time that a shrink and a pill were going to be a part of my life forever...something happened to me as an infant and it scarred me with life-long anxiety and there was nothing I could do about it.
God spoke to me through Miss Priscilla Shirer one Monday night at Bible study. She was speaking about the strongholds in our minds that hold us back and how the only way to destroy these mental, emotional, and spiritual strongholds was with spiritual weapons. This wisdom comes from 2 Corinthians 4:10.
"The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds"
That got me thinking...instead of repeating "I am a good mom. I am a good person. I am safe. There is no reason to be afraid. God loves me, etc" when panic struck, maybe I should be repeating Scripture. Maybe, each morning, instead of writing down something positive I think about myself, I should write down something positive about God, or something positive that God says about me.
Sounds great in theory, but oh my word was it difficult!
You see...Satan does not like when we fight back. He wants us weakened by our own insecurities and our insecurities are a result of our pride. Yes, you read that right. It is prideful to think that we know better than God. That is exactly what we do when we say "I'm not good enough" and He says we are a masterpiece (Ephesians 2:10). We are prideful when we say "I can't do this" and He has said that we are conquerors (Romans 8:37). We are prideful when we say "I am alone" when He will do it for us (Galatians 2:20).
Satan wants us to be prideful. He wants us to allow these thoughts. Then, when his demons come after us, we are weak, we feel defenseless, and we fall. Yes, I said anxiety is a demonic attack. That sounds like I'm some crazy Pentecostal, I know, but you know how you can tell? An ailment is a demonic attack if it attacks the spiritual life of the sick. A cold is probably not an attack, but depression is. A broken foot is likely not some spiritual destruction, but anxiety is. Etc...etc...etc.
Call me crazy if you'd like, but as soon as I wrapped my head around this, I began to get better. The Bible is full of references to battling demons, so look there first. See how many times we are told of warfare against demons (you can start with James 4:7, 2 Corinthians 10:3-5, Mark 16:17, 1 Peter 5:8, and Ephesians 6:12).
So...how do we use this to fight off anxiety? You learn His word. You study and memorize and repeat His promises in moments of darkness. Scripture is your divine weapon mentioned in 2 Corinthians.You remind yourself that you can do all things through He who strengthens you (Philippians 4:13). You pray unceasingly (Philippians 4:6-7). You recognize that He is always with you (Psalm 23:4). Finally, you need to not be afraid of looking or sounding foolish and you tell Satan to go away! You tell him that you are a child of God and you rebuke him in Jesus' name, and then you be still, and let God do His thing (Psalm 46:10).
Just yesterday, I was driving home and I was trying my best to hear the song on the radio rather than the thoughts in my head and my chest began to tighten. You see, my family is in the middle of a move that isn't going very smoothly. I am 31 weeks pregnant. My husband is working 14 hours a day. My kids are a handful, because they can sense all of my stress. I have baby shower today where I'll be the center of attention (something I have anxiety about). And I am dealing with a dozen different doctors right now and travel arrangements for our unborn son who will need heart surgery just after birth. I am an absolute stress-case! It's no wonder my heart rate accelerated; anyone would understand me having a panic attack...life is rough right now! However, as soon as I felt that, I did not accept it. I prayed for deliverance and began reciting Psalm 46:10. The radio began to play Move by MercyMe followed by The One I'm Running To and King of My Heart. As soon as I asked, I was given relief. No pill. No shrink.
Now, it wasn't that easy from the start. When I stopped my therapy and medications over a year ago, I stumbled and I fell a lot, but I kept at it. Changing your thinking is hard, but the Bible tells us to hold every thought captive (2 Corinthians 10:5), and practice makes perfect. It takes time, but if you are willing to put in your effort, and you can trust Him to do His part and change you by the Holy Spirit...you will experience freedom.
And I tell you what, after 22 years of being held down by anxiety...freedom is so, so beautiful!
God is good!