I remember the night that I couldn’t stop crying or catch my breath. From the outside, my life seemed fine. Admittedly, my workday had left me feeling discouraged, but I knew that this break-down reached further back in time and drew from deeper place than momentary stress. For months I had carried a load of stress, unable to see a way out from under it. Later that year, I learned that anxiety disorders usually stem from our inability to set aside worries, and they build up until we respond to a stressful situation with a reaction that is out of proportion at the moment. Picture a boiling pot that spills over when the heat is turned up or an erupting geyser when the pressure builds too high underground.
I thought about my anxiety and fear this week as I read ancient words in the Bible:
“I cannot eat for sighing;
my groans pour out like water.
What I always feared has happened to me.
What I dreaded has come true.
I have no peace, no quietness.
I have no rest; only trouble comes.” (Job 3:24-26)
Women that I meet women share stories of trauma and grief and pain. Job’s pain echos in their stories, reinforcing the reality that life is fraught with challenges and uncertainty. Neuroscientist Joseph LeDoux, author of Anxious, defines anxiety as “an experience of uncertainty,” worry about something that could happen. In his research, LeDoux found that when a person exerts power over the uncertainty in their life positive feelings ensue, even if the power is simply accepting things the way they are.
That challenging night that I described turned into a challenging year. I spent time on a counselor’s sofa. And, I spent time on my face, asking Jesus for insight. How had I gotten here? What had brought me to this point? During that season of life, I learned two helpful ways to keep moving toward healing:
- Let go of the past. As I processed the anxiety and sought peace, I journeyed into the past. Did I have hurts that were buried but not dead? Did I harbor unforgiveness or bitterness?
- Hold on to Jesus. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. He reminded me about painful moments in the past that needed His healing. When He brought those painful moments to my mind, I asked Him to speak truth and healing over them.
I wrote about this season of life here and how I experienced freedom.
Millions of people can identify with my experience, and a large percentage of them deal with crippling and life-alter symptoms. I understand that anxiety differs by degree from person to person. And, anyone who has suffered from anxiety knows that simple answers don’t exist and the journey to peace is long. Drawing closer to Jesus makes a difference in the journey. He’s the Prince of Peace.
Stay rooted in the Prince of Peace.
I wrote about learning to listen to Jesus and follow Him in Led. In Surrendered, I wrote about learning to rest and trust Jesus. Each Bible study is organized into a 30-day devotional book for easy reading. Buy Led or Surrendered here. I’ll send you chapter one free when you subscribe to this blog.