Hope for Worries:
He spends an enormous amount of time avoiding situations that would put him in the midst of a crowd. He worries what people will say to him and how he would respond.
“What if I made a mistake by saying something awful like I did to Jeff last week?” The shame and embarrassment linger in his mind all day. The fear is almost unbearable.
“What if I have nothing to talk about? Usually I can say one thing and it gives me away. Then everyone knows I’m afraid.” He’s afraid of being rejected, afraid of entering a room full of other people who may be watching and judging.
“I’m going to always be an outcast. I don’t know anyone else who feels this way.”
Phobias, generalized anxiety, and social anxiety is more common than we think. It doesn’t always look the same or show up with classic symptoms for everyone. But it is real, it is prevalent, and there is hope.
Two Thoughts on Hope in Anxiety:
- You are a gift and you have purposes. God created you in such a way that you are uniquely you. There are things you can do that no one else can: concepts you can write, create, speak, think, etc. Let’s make sure to keep the right things in the right place: the anxiety you are experiencing in this moment is not bigger than the purposes in your life.
- Persevere. Do the hard work that is required to take your thoughts back (CBT, counseling, etc). It requires steady consistency and will cause a great strength to rise in you. Guess what else? You will replace negative, destructive thoughts with positive ones, and you will see how the Lord can use it for good. Has he already been doing that? Watch expectantly, because nothing goes to waste with Him. He will continue growing and stretching you into the beautiful gem he created you as.
Hope in Panic:
She crouches down in the frozen food section at her local grocery store. ‘What is happening?’ She couldn’t catch her breath, couldn’t feel normal. Everything was spinning and she felt terrified.
‘What do I do? Am I okay?’ Thoughts of escaping quickly were primary.
Yet she didn’t move. Stayed as frozen as the pizzas next to her. A man with a buggy pushed past her, looking down condescendingly. He shook his head and never said a word, grabbed his frozen vegetables, and walked to the end of the aisle.
Her palms were sweating as she kept her head in her hands. The fear was agonizing and shame started to creep in, further confusing the thoughts swirling in her mind. Her heart was racing and she began to realize she was having a panic attack.
She tried to pray. She knew she should, but she could not make her mind work correctly to say words. All she could comprehend was panic like a flashing neon sign in her mind’s eye.
“Lord, please,” was all she could manage.
As she debated crawling her way out of the grocery store and into her car, a wave of nausea hit her and she looked up from her hands. An elderly man was coming her way, a sincere look of concern on his face.
“Ma’am are you okay? Can I help you?” He bent down, which obviously wasn’t easy for him, and she clutched his arm, her breath coming in quick gulps.
Tears stinging her eyes, she answered him, “I don’t know what’s wrong. I don’t know why I feel so scared right now. Something is happening to me!”
He patted her arm and the look of concern dissolved to reassurance. “Let me pray for you, please.” Her fear eased, her mind began to focus, and although the jitters remained, she listened intently to his prayer, thanked him and made her way to the car.
Once at home, the shame overtook her. She didn’t purchase any groceries because she fled from the store so quickly. She was so embarrassed strangers had viewed her in this vulnerable state. She cried most of the evening, wondering if she was losing it and where this unknown fear came from.
Would she be able to go back to the grocery store again?
It somehow felt scary, like the frozen food section was a haunted house she never wanted to visit again. She was so exhausted she didn’t even care about the groceries anymore; couldn’t dwell on her emotions another minute, and she promptly fell into a long nap.
This is what panic can feel like. Panic disorders are prevalent in the US; 6 million adults identify with what I just described. Panic is incredibly isolating which further perpetuates feelings of guilt.
Two Thoughts on Hope in Panic:
- You are not alone. Satan loves to make us feel isolated when we are in our most vulnerable moments. Here’s how he lies: Anxiety sounds like “I’m going crazy with all the worries I have,” OCD sounds like “I have to wash my hands repeatedly to avoid contamination,” Phobias sound like: “I must avoid my fear of heights by never getting on a mountain,” Panic sounds like “I have to escape this situation immediately.” These are just examples but it is all perceived danger. The danger isn’t actually occurring; it is all a lie. It’s hard work to take over the battlefield of our minds, but we must combat these lies with truth. We will live by the truth we know, not based on how we feel. The panic will pass; it may be uncomfortable in the moment, but it will pass.
- You won’t always feel this way. Never and always are 2 words to avoid when you experience anxiety. “I’ll always feel this way.” “I’ll never get over it.” This is black and white thinking that can cause feelings of guilt and is a definitive pattern of negativity. Remove them from your lips today! You won’t “always” feel this way. You will grow and change into the person God has created you to be. His plans are coming to fruition in your life, and you will not feel in 1 year how you are feeling today.
Yes it is true that anxiety is real and often crippling, misaligning our focus. But there is victory in Christ and his truth is greater still.