Today was an ordinary Monday. By ordinary, I mean, it’s just a couple days before leaving the country, for two weeks, away from work and family. A chance to serve God in the most radical way. Wouldn’t that be an ordinary Monday in your life?
I started my day writing down what I needed to do for work and what I needed to personally in preparation for my time away. This is progress because I am really trying to work on my list-taking skills. As I was checking things off the list, my heart started racing a little, the temperature in the room seemed to be rising, and I thought, “Hmm, is this anxiety I am feeling? Is a panic attack coming soon?” As an anxiety survivor/thriver these feelings are all too familiar.
Wondering if it was the fact that I had two cups of coffee at home. Now, before you tell me, “Whoa Nelly, lay off all the caffeine!”, in my own defense, I hadn’t eaten anything yet. Sometimes we get that crazy, fast-beating heart, weird and almost light-headed feeling when we have forgotten to include a little protein in our morning routing or forget to have breakfast with our morning coffee. I said to myself, “Okay, it was only two cups of Joe. This can’t be the reason for this feeling. Because, this is Coffee Mugs and Big Hugs. Girlfriend, likes her coffee.”
I didn’t really think about it much more; that is, until I decided to cruise through the book of Matthew to look for the story on Jesus feeding the 5k+ with some bread and fish, in preparation for some teaching. I came across the sixth chapter of Matthew in my CSB Bible with the title, “The Cure for Anxiety.” Perplexed, I glanced at the passages. Familiar with the story, I was led to do a little heart check. Was it worry? No. Worried about clothes or food or …? No. I skipped the story about the birds, barns, flowers, and Solomon’s clothes and asked God, “What’s up with this I’m feeling? Now, this story is important and all, but I am not sure this is the worry kind of anxiety.”
Now, I have had struggles with anxiety in the past few years. Now I am a survivor/thriver. I proudly call myself a thriver because I am living with it. I am managing it. If you are living with it and managing too, you are my thriving Sister. High Fives! I’m not sure there really is a “cure” for anxiety like my Bible stated but we can certainly learn healthy ways to manage it with our most amazing Jesus. Anxiety’s symptoms can include a racing heart, rapid breathing, and sweating. Racing heart. Check. Rapid breathing. Check. Sweating. Check. Well, I was hot anyway, did that count?
What God revealed to me this time was that I was experiencing these feelings because, yes, I was having a healthy fear of the unknown and I was excited about it. I was eager. Enthusiastic. Thrilled. I had just been in awe of God. In awe of where I was at and where he was calling me to. If you could picture me with my hands on each side of my head, stretched out, “Mind. Blown.” Have you ever felt this when you have been given such a wonderful opportunity, when you’re just in “Whoa” mode?
Have you been put in a place or has God put something in motion for you that you never in a gazillion year thought would ever happen to you? These were those feelings. The same feelings of anticipation you would get from saving every penny to make that family trip to Disneyland you never thought could happen, yet God, in his goodness, provided for you, even when you had so many stumbling blocks on the way.
Friends, this was a moment when I experienced the presence of God in such a profound way. This beating heart, breathing, and maybe a little sweating could have possibly been the Holy Spirit doing a work in me. Affirming me. I am so giddy, like a child, all fired up the night before starting school. It’s like God is telling me, “Yeah girl, I picked you, you’re going, I am so excited for you.” I can picture God doing the happy Carlton dance or something in heaven because, if you didn’t know already, he is our wildest and biggest cheerleader. I had this overwhelming “I get to do this” feeling. I “get to.”
How do you decipher these physical feelings, wondering if it could be anxiety (the fear or worry king) or anxiety (the excitement or eagerness kindness)? Here were the few things that helped me today and in the past:
Notice. The very first thing is to pay attention. Don’t let it get too far. Take a step back. Stand still. Stop what you’re doing.
Breathe. Take a few breaths. Inhale while counting to four (I like to inhale saying, “Jesus”). Exhale while counting to four. do this four times. This will help to calm your heart and mind so you can calmly go before God with the question, “What is up?”
Pray. Prayer is conversation with God. You can ask him the weird and hard questions. Tell him what you’re feeling. Ask if there is any truth to the anxiety you are feeling. Could it be the enemy trying to fill your mind with lies, deceit, or doubt?
Open Your Bible. Turn to the 6th chapter of Matthew. Look up other passages on worry or anxiety. As you do a heart check, does the truth of God’s Word match what you could be feeling or the situation? If he reveals to you that it is the enemy’s lies, ask him to help you. Rebuke the enemy. Resist the devil. Read more passages before the Lord so he can rewrite them on your heart to help you through the process.
Celebrate. Once God reveals that it is his Spirit swimming around in your soul, affirming you, the woman he created you to be, the woman he dropped in the place right where you are or the place he is preparing you to go, CELEBRATE. Praise him. Bask in that special moment with God. Take in that joy that he is calling you into. Be like a sponge and soak up the declaration that he helping you through it with his truth. There is nothing else like it, girlfriend.
If you my friend, want to know this God who willingly sacrificed his one and only son for you, because he loves you that much, he is right there with you. He is available. Call to him in your places of anxiety, worry, fear, or anything and everything going on in your life. Whether you’re feeling weary, not _____ enough, or feel you’re at a good place but really feel like something is missing, Jesus is the way. He can fill that hole in your heart. You are enough in his eyes. He is near to help you along with your anxiety. Let him be your manager. Let his being help you thrive. Then, you can experience the giddiness. The thrill. The excitement. The eagerness. Of him working in your life. All because of him. All for him. Welcome my Survivor/Thriver Sister.
Hugging you so tight,