Something happened a couple of days ago: I woke in the morning feeling lighter. Something in me had changed. I didn’t even realize it at first, and when I did, I was awed…and thrilled.
I’m not experiencing anxiety! Like… none!
Sure, I have butterflies going into a new situation or with a new group of people, but that’s normal.
No, I mean anxiety – the friend that depression brought with it when it invaded my life 7 years ago.
For me, anxiety starts as pain in the pit of my stomach that moves upward to become pressure in my chest. My heart beats faster. The same sour taste at the back of my throat that I have with stomach flu. The shortness of breath, my shoulders pulled together, teeth clenched, swirling catastrophizing thoughts, crushing dread that relentlessly pushes me down.
It’s gone! No heaviness, no dread!
Maybe it’s because what I was dreading is here. I’m moved. I’m dealing with the grief and loneliness – the situation and emotions that I had been afraid of.
I told God that I’m in it now, and it’s ok. No fear or anxiety of it, because I’m here now, I’m living it, and I’m surviving!
I shared all of this with my therapist today; she asked when I last recalled the anxious feelings. It was a few weeks after our cross-country move. We went back to Minnesota for a special event, and I know I had it then. It snowed on the day we were flying back to Florida, and I remember telling my husband that I was ready to go “home.” And that’s my last memory of anxiety. My therapist pointed out that I “left it there.”
In Philippians 4, The Bible says
v. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
v. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
That first verse gets thrown at Christian anxiety sufferers a lot. Just do what verse 6 says, and poof! your fears will be gone. For years, I prayed these verses, tried to practice them, held onto them tightly. And when nothing changed, I’d pray them again, practice them, hold onto them. Still no change.
It wasn’t that I didn’t believe God’s Word. I did, and I still fervently do! But Phil 4:6-7 isn’t a magic phrase that I do one time and all my fears disappear. I had always thought that if I practiced verse 6, then the next verse – the promise of God’s peace – would follow immediately.
I got tired of people quoting Phil 4 to me. I know already! I know I’m not supposed to be anxious. I know that I’m supposed to pray. I know I’m supposed to ask. I know I’m supposed to be thankful and express my gratitude to God. I know! Quit telling me – it isn’t working!
But now I wonder. I wonder if I simply didn’t understand the verses. Or had expectations that were incorrect.
Because I am experiencing ‘the peace of God which transcends all understanding.” But it’s been a long time coming. The second verse is a promise, but for me, the fulfillment of that promise took awhile.
God never breaks His promises. I did pray, and ask, and thank. Over and over again. And eventually, when God was done teaching me what I needed to learn at that time, He fulfilled His promise, and now I have peace.
God’s Peace. No heaviness. Only lightness. Spring in my step, spring in my heart.
I like lightness.