Can't Cast Your Anxiety and Keep Your Pride

Anxiety.  I struggle with anxiety. Real, intense stress that wells up inside of me. Anxiety that I don’t know where to park. Anxiety that I am uncertain of the root. Anxiety that was lullabied into submission for years with prescribed medication to help. The same medication I quit taking nine months ago because not only was it numbing my anxiety but it seemed to overflow into many other areas of my life. I had grown numb.

So, next I tried keep it at bay with exercise. Lots and lots of exercise, and food, and wine trying to stuff  a cork into this pressurized space that anxiety occupies in me. However, each time I try to fill the black hole anxiety creates in me with anything other than surrender – the void remains.

 I  am learning to sit with anxiety. To feel it. To be uncomfortable in it and not want to swallow, chew,  or sip  something to make it go away. Unfortunately, Galatians does not describe the Fruit of the Spirit that can be found in the pantry. Ben and Jerrys and red wine did not make the cut. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control. (Galatians 5:22)

 I know that some  may want to question the depth of my faith if I say I believe what I do but struggle in this way. The truth is, I understand why someone could come to this conclusion. I would say, I know God’s not finished with me yet.

 Anxiety swells up when I begin to rely on myself and my abilities. Surrender to my Savior and remembrance that I am nothing apart from Christ, brings me peace. He brings clarity to my mind and helps me know that the enemy is not ambushing me. The devil is like a roaring lion. In these moments when anxiety begins to shake my core, I’m learning to stop and ask “What is the enemy trying to distract me from?” Usually it is the truth of the great work that GOD is doing and has nothing to do with what I am capable of doing.

“So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want.” What I am realizing is that maybe, feeling the realness of anxiety IS in fact walking in faith.  Realizing the brokenness of my flesh and  not trying to run from it, numb it, or fill it with something has left me in a place of total reliance on the Prince of Peace.

 I know that most people who have it together don’t discuss their mental shortcomings but maybe that is why so many of us have anxiety. Maybe it is because we feel like we are the only one who doesn’t have it all together. Maybe it is because no one wants to talk about anything but success. However, sometimes to measure success, we must look at the failures. At the shortcomings. At the brokenness. At the flesh. Maybe we have to see those things first to be able to look at the growth, to see the change, and  recognize the GLORY of the great work of  God. So, tonight I share with you something that is somewhat uncomfortable to talk about. But, maybe if I’m brave enough to share more than a Pinterest moment, through an Instagram Filter  with a Facebook like, maybe then I am able to humble myself enough to show who I am without Christ so others can SEE who Christ is in me.

He brings me peace in the midst of my storm. He brings me surrender when I want to fight. He restores when I try to fix. He gently waits when I run.

Recently, I listened to a sermon by Steven Furtick of Eleveation church that I think I’ve listened to 10 times now. I listen to it a lot because he is speaking of something I know well. Pride. He points out in his sermon the word anxiety. anxiety. Look at the word. Maybe the root of all my anxiety is me. I. I wonder if I were able to truly surrender the “I”  

Steven goes on to say “maybe anxiety is the fruit and the pride is the root. Maybe you’ve been trying to cast your anxiety and keep your pride. Maybe you need to know that pride and anxiety come in the same package.”

“Humble yourself, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that He may lift you up in due time.  Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”

But you know, this lion in my life called anxiety, it is losing its grip. Does it still swell up, distract me and even succeed in giving me horrible tension headaches at times? Yes. But do you know that over time, the headaches are not as often, the grip is not as intense? Even the fact that I can sit with it and feel it and not run to find something to numb it is a huge victory. The fact that I want to share this with you doesn’t terrify me or bring me anxiety. I feel freedom in sharing with you this piece of my brokenness that God continues to restore and renew.

Furtick says, “The enemies that we fear today, will be your testimony of triumph in your tomorrow.” Where my anxiety multiplies is hidden in the darkness, where my pride of appearances doesn’t want anyone to know. Freedom continues to be found in the dawning of each new day, in His mercies, in sweet surrender to Him and His power that is at work within me.

“Resist him(the devil), standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings. And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To Him be the power for ever and ever.” (1 Peter 9-10).

I share this to let you know I don’t have it all together. I always joke, in truth, about the hot mess I am. But you know what, I mean it. Most days I feel like the conductor of the Hot Mess Express and Jesus loves me anyway.