TAKING PEACE

I’d never struggled with anxiety before this semester. It seemed to be an issue which others may have, but I never thought it would be a struggle for me – I believed myself to be far too balanced, organized, and steady for such a human struggle. But this semester it came: swiftly, silently, overwhelmingly it came. 

It slithered into my life so quietly, I didn’t recognize it at all.  

Every time I had a test, days leading up to it, I felt like my stomach was turned inside out; even with assignments and exams that weren’t vital to my overall grade. One day when I was driving from work to class I was so overwhelmed with fear that I thought I might need to pull over. I didn’t even have an exam that day – it was a simple, average day of class and I was doubled over in stomach pain.  I was often scatterbrained and nervous.  I had a hard time remembering things people had told me. I would forget to eat. I felt jumpy and had a hard time focusing on anything. I was not okay.  And the worst part was trying to keep the struggle to myself. 

Anxiety came with a lot of shame. I didn’t want anyone to know that I was struggling. I was afraid of receiving judgement for my weakness. I didn’t want to need help from anyone. I wanted to prove to myself that I was fully capable of taking care of this little issue on my own. But then it grew bigger, and I needed help.  

I reached out to the Family and explained what was going on. The response I got was nothing short of some of the gentlest love and care I have ever received. I asked for prayer constantly, and I could feel it when others were seeking peace for me. 

Throughout this struggle, I learned that I have been believing a few lies. I believed that the love others had for me hinged on how easy I was to love. I wasn’t sure that people would want to be around me if I was needy or unstable. My stability and you-can-count-on-me attitude have played a key role in the development of my identity. But now I was messy and unreliable. I knew that God would love me no matter what, but what about other people? How could people love me if I was not easy to love? 

God did some major reconstruction on my thinking. I had to learn to slowly let go of what I believed determined my worth and allow God to refill my mind with truth. When I sought Him in the dark moments, the peace He brought was so gentle, so quiet, so unlike the world full of fear and stress, deadlines and expectations. I didn’t quite hear Him at first, it was just a calming feeling. Then, as I sought His presence consistently, I began to hear His voice. He spoke through others too. 

Throughout this experience, I realized that I have a difficult time receiving grace from other people. I had to learn to accept the mercy and gentleness the Family had for me, knowing that I didn’t deserve it.   I learned to say “Thank you” instead of “I’m sorry” when I needed someone to help me because I’d locked my keys in my house. I learned to accept that it really was okay that I had to bail on my house church when what I needed was to stay home and rest with the Father. I learned to ask for prayer from my sisters, over and over again, every time I felt the fear rising up inside of me.  I learned to call on the Prince of Peace when I sat shaking in the dark. And He came. Over and over, He came. 

I have been without anxiety for two weeks now. He has restored peace in my heart, and, in doing so, brought a fresh wave of truth over my mind. Along with the removal of fear from my life, God has added an extra measure of joy. I feel more free to love and be loved than I have ever felt in my life. 

I encourage you to call out to Him when your peace is nowhere to be found. I believe that God desires peace for you, and has since the moment He thought you into creation. One of the reasons He established the church was to create a Family of encouragers, to be a safe place to admit struggle, and a place to be cared for, uplifted, and encouraged. I am convinced that He has provided for all of our needs. He is ready to offer peace the moment we call on Him- we just have to take it.