How did I get here?
What is happening to me?
I was flat on my back on the floor of the waiting room, worried faces staring down at me.
Had I collapsed?
Why couldn’t I catch my breath?
Why did it feel like my skin was on fire?
My worried family rushed me to the emergency room, fear etched in their expressions.
I had not been myself for weeks…no months!
And now this?
There is not a moment of my life that I remember more vividly than that day in 2012.
It was the day that I experienced my first anxiety attack.
As a person who is not prone to anxiety, the whole experience shook me to the core.
I just wasn’t myself anymore, I couldn’t cope, I couldn’t think straight and my life was spinning out of control.
I was a wreck!
We later discovered that there was a low-level carbon monoxide leak in our home that was sabotaging my mental and physical health.
Believe it or not, the symptoms of chronic carbon monoxide exposure include headache, weakness, personality change, and anxiety.
Once we found the source of the problem, we quickly remedied the situation and got me the medical care I needed.
But the whole experience left me forever changed because it gave me a deeper understanding of the crippling effects of anxiety and the hopelessness that remains in its wake.
In that moment, I saw anxiety for what it truly is…
Anxiety is a thief, it holds us captive and steals our sense of adventure.
Anxiety is a rebel, it defies truth and fills our head with lies.
Anxiety is a bully, it defines us by our weakest moments.
Anxiety is a dictator, it tells us what we can and cannot do.
Anxiety is a prison guard, it locks us up and throws away the key.
Yes, anxiety is a powerful evil; it is a real enemy.
I cannot imagine what it is like to live with a high level of anxiety day in and day out; if you are in that place, my heart truly goes out to you.
I spent one brief season of my life crippled by anxiety, and I would do everything in my power to never, ever feel that way again!
There is only one thing I know of that is bigger and more powerful than anxiety.
It is the power and love of God shown to us through the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus Christ.
God’s love breaks bondage and gives us freedom from all sorts of entrapments, including anxiety!
The difficult part is understanding how to apply His truth to our lives in such a way that is truly helpful when we are plagued with anxious and hopeless thoughts.
When I am feeling worried or anxious, I immediately retreat to the sanctuary of truth found in Philippians 4.
This truth has set me free time and again, and I hope it will do the same for you.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4: 6-7
I am not saying that this formula is simple, nor that results are immediate, but I am saying there is hope for every anxious situation!
It is clear to me from this passage of scripture that overcoming anxiety boils down to three main concepts.
FOCUS: Shifting our focus off the situation and onto God.
PRAYER: Requesting God’s presence with thanksgiving.
FAITH: Trusting God will bring peace and protection.
I may not suffer from anxiety attacks on a regular basis, but I still have to walk through this process of focus, prayer and faith on a regular basis.
Anxiety is an emotion that every mom, every wife, every sister, and every friend faces on a regular basis.
It sneaks up on us, confuses us and overwhelms us with fear and trepidation.
My own personal anxiety trap is the temptation to focus my attention on all of the possible outcomes of a situation rather than trusting God’s plan for my life.
I have learned that…..
Feelings of anxiety are always a signal that I am not trusting God with some area of my life.
Other factors that make me more prone to anxious feelings…
Sin in my life
Fear of failure
I am slowly learning that I have the ability to rejoice in the Lord even when I am feeling anxious.
I am finally grasping the truth that serving a sovereign God means it’s OK to let go of the strong desire to control every aspect of my existence.
I am coming to understand that my failures and weaknesses are not going to change who God is and what He is capable of doing in and through me.
Each of these simple truths has brought freedom in my life, and I hope that my sharing them will bring you freedom also!
Overcoming anxiety is a daily battle, and I find that there are times when I need an extra dose of encouragement from The Bible.
A few of my favorite scriptures to read when I am feeling anxious are…
Romans 8:28 – All things work together for those who love God.
Philippians 4: 10-13 – God will supply my every need.
1 Peter 1:5-7 – I am shielded by God’s power, trials grow my faith.
Matthew 6:34 – Do not worry about tomorrow, today has enough trouble.
Ephesians 4:22-24 – Put off the old, and put on the new.
When my focus is on God and I allow him to remain on the throne in my life, I have victory over anxiety.
When anxiety returns, it is a good signal to me that it is time for me to get back on my knees and re-focus my attention on God and make a conscious decision to trust Him with the outcome rather than trying to control it myself.
Once I do this, I am able to embrace the adventure.
And what a wonderful adventure it is!
If you feeling trapped by anxiety, I pray that the truth of Philippians 4 permeates your heart today.
Only God has the power to replace our anxious thoughts with a sense of adventure and give us hope for a new kind of tomorrow.
I pray that this article is just the beginning of a beautiful conversation on what we can do to encourage one another to let go of anxiety and embrace the adventure.
I have been asking my friends and mentors for additional advice on the subject, and will add their suggestions in the comments of this post.
I would love to hear from you also!
Have you ever struggled with anxiety or panic attacks? What has helped you to get through?
This article has been shared at many of my favorite Faith & Family Linkups.
Content inspired by Suzie Eller’s #livefreeThursday writing prompt, “Anxiety or Adventure.”
Photography from Dollar Photo Club.