I didn’t walk into the library for five months. I didn’t turn in our membership application for the local fitness gym because I couldn’t walk through the front door. Appointments for myself will not be called in because I fear talking to what is on the other side of the line–that I will embarrassingly stumble over words and be shamed.
My anxiety is a deep secret that I have held for years. I do not fear the big steps—moving across the world and saying good-bye to family, sure I can do that, no problem. But ask me to walk into a new place for the first time and I will internally freak out, procrastinating as long as possible, for months even. My fear has been so great at times that I have said no to some great possibilities and relationships.
I cover it pretty well. The only thing a friend might notice is that I say “no” a lot or back out at the last minute. Or that I would much rather correspond by texting than by talking on the phone.
One of God’s greatest mercies to me was giving me kids. Without them, I could hide longer and pretend that I didn’t have a problem. But what do you do when you need to call the doctor for a sick child or sign them up for an activity that requires you to go to a new place? You do it.
This last year has been full of stepping out, even before I wanted to. I learned that obedience comes before the feeling or desire to follow through. When I begin to feel anxious, I have to be reminded that God wants me to receive his power and peace. Too often I reject His offer and let anxiety rule.
Lamentations 3:22-24 says, “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning, great is your faithfulness. ‘The Lord is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘therefore I will hope in him.’” (ESV)
The other day my husband was telling me about a message he heard from Brene Brown. She said we need to be honest to others about the stories we are telling ourselves in our head. For instance, if we are talking to a friend and they act a certain way that causes us to doubt their care or understanding, we say to them, “You know, here’s the story I’m telling in my head. The story is that I have shared something and you don’t care and maybe don’t want to be here. What’s the real story?” Too often we can sit in false stories—we even get some sort of release from clinging to that story; it makes us feel good for a while, but leads us further into darkness.
As I considered Brown’s words, I was convicted. I tell myself false stories all the time! But God wants to reach down into our hearts and minds and help us to receive HIS true story. That we are loved, capable, and gifted. That we are worthy through Him. That He is with us and will give us the power to do what He has put before us. That we are not a disappointment.
What anxious thoughts or false stories are you letting your heart ponder today? What true story do you need to receive so that you can move forward?