In December 2013, I didn’t have the desire to exercise, socialize, leave the house, eat or even get out of bed. The only thing I felt like doing was sleeping. Sleep was where I didn’t develop constant fears, worries or anxious thoughts.
Resting my head on my pillow, all I could focus on was my breathing and the crippling chest pains which ensued after every exhale.
And that’s when I cried out to God.
Tears fell one by one. Before I knew it, an hour had passed and my pillow was completely soaked. Soon after, I flipped through the Bible for comfort and read this verse:
“How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart?” (Psalm 13:2)
For me, anxiety has been an ongoing battle spiritually, emotionally, mentally and physically. Some days the birds are chirping and the sky is an extra hue of blue, but then I encounter those unexpected days. The days in which everything suddenly seems suffocating, depressing and the idea of carrying on with my life seems impossible.
And I’ve discovered there isn’t a “10 simple steps” solution to get rid of anxiety. If there was, I would only feel disappointed by the 10th step realizing it’s not that easy to conquer.
So instead of offering you a how-to article, I’m going to tell you my experience as someone who continues to battle with anxiety, yet I also want to highlight one college student who has experienced victory.
In Be Anxious for Nothing, Joyce Meyer says, “He has become a butterfly, one of the freest of God’s creatures. He can soar through the air on beautiful wings. But to emerge from that cocoon is a struggle, one that is necessary for the butterfly’s full transformation and development.”
As I reflect on this profound statement, it reminds me of my current struggle with anxiety. I am in my cocoon phase impatiently waiting to spread my wings, bottling up my emotions.
“If we didn’t struggle through some things,” Joyce says. “we would never develop the strength and stamina we need to survive in this world.”
But then God reminded me that He is preparing my wings during this season of waiting and reminding me to put trust in Him in the midst of anxiety.
“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)
We can’t always see where our future wings are going to take us, but God promises there’s something better up ahead, we just have to trust Him.
For Kate Inglett, a senior at the University of Florida, this is exactly what she had done, put her trust in her Savior.
Growing up, Kate frequently experienced anxiety. “I grew up a people pleaser and found my identity in my grades,” Kate says. “I also felt like I was never truly myself, because I constantly changed to gain approval of others.”
It wasn’t until Cru’s Fall Getaway that semester that Kate prayed and received Christ. It was a turning point in Kate’s life when she surrendered everything to him. Kate says she could instantly tell a difference in her attitude and actions toward others.
“It all clicked when I realized that I wanted to follow Jesus and that he was worth following,” Kate says. “I started to genuinely care for those around me.”
Kate says people pleasing can still be a struggle for her even as a senior, but she now knows her identity is in Christ.
“Out of God’s extreme sovereignty, he has completely freed me of anxiety,” Kate says. “I am at peace, because I know God is in control of my life.”
For me, the process continues. After leaving my first session at the Christian counseling center, I gained a better understanding of what exactly anxiety was and where it stemmed from in my personal life. In my counselor’s words, he said anxiety is “bottled-up emotions.” All this time I had been containing my emotions leaving me in a constant state of stress, fear and worry.
This has been a helpful step in the process, but it’s also helpful to be reminded that the process continues, with more than 10 simple steps.
If you’re struggling with anxiety, consider Joyce Meyer’s book:
We cross the line into worry when we start to dwell on the things we can't control. So how do we stop? And how do we prevent it?
"Perhaps we expect punishment from God, either because we see Him as a harsh master, or see ourselves as dead wood, deserving to be thrown away and burned."
Most life-changing encounters with God usually involve deep emotional, physical or psychological pain.
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