“I feel nervous to wake up tomorrow. My peace in the mornings feels like it’s been stolen from me…”
– A journal entry from October 2nd, 2016.
I can remember the first moment I experienced anxiety. It was something similar to a panic attack.
I was 19 years old and had recently moved out of my mom’s house to move in with a friend. You would have thought that the big change to move out of my mom’s house would have triggered worry or anxiety, but it didn’t.
I was a fearless soul.
Until the day came when anxiety saw it’s open door in my life through the desperate need to control my relationships and how people perceived me.
From that first morning on, I could tell something was different.
My heart was racing. There was nausea in my stomach. My hands were cold and shaky, and I was struggling to catch my breath. It felt like I had spent the entire night running from a monster.
But there was no monster, except the monster of my need for control.
And then, becoming a mom made me feel out of control with my own fears and anxieties. If that was even possible.
By 2016 I hit my tipping point. The majority of mornings were marked by panic, stomach pains, and a desperation for God to heal me.
I remember one Wednesday evening when I finally broke down to my dearest friends in my small group. I confessed how crippled I felt with anxiety. It was taking over my life. Anxiety was taking the control that I wanted.
I was ashamed.
I took almost a whole month off from writing and blogging because I was paralyzed with anxiety. I was frozen. Surely this was a tactic of the Enemy, and I was playing his victim.
Now in February 2017, I’m here to write that I have beaten the monster. My desire for this blog post is to help unravel the mess that anxiety is, and give tactics to the reader to fight back.
With all my hours being consumed with anxiety, I have spent more hours studying how to fight back. While I had moments where I played the victim and allowed sin to roam free in my mind, I came to a point of realization I had two options for my life: 1. I could either give in and accept that anxiety is just a part of my identity and learn to LIVE with it. OR 2. I could determine to make anxiety my ENEMY, and no longer something I give control in my life.
I chose that latter. If I’m gonna go down, my fists will be swingin’.
Anxiety had to turn into my enemy before I could figure out how to defeat it.
“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that t the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.”
– 1 Peter 5:6-7
When countries go to war, and the army general is trying to devise a plan of attack on the enemy, they have to study the enemy in order to know how they work. (I only know this because of the movies 😉 haha)
So I had to start my process by understanding my enemy: anxiety.
Once I knew how the enemy operated, I could then learn to attack it and fight back.
→ Knowing the enemy: Anxiety
So, where does anxiety come from? And why do women struggle with it so much?
The root word for anxiety in 1 Peter 5:7 is merizo.
The meaning of this word is divide.
When I first came across this word, I felt the revelation come immediately. Anxiety feels like you are divided within yourself. In one case you want to overcome, and in the next, you are paralyzed with fear. Sometimes you don’t even know what you’re afraid of. Sometimes it just feels like INTENSE confusion. But BOTH paralyze you. So it’s as if there’s an inner war going on in your mind. In one moment you want to overcome and share what you think, and in the next, you are frozen.
So, why are we divided?
I believe it’s because we want control and are unable to have it.
In both of my pregnancies, I saw severe anxiety manifest itself, so much so to where I was getting heart palpitations. I felt so out of control that anxiety literally was gripping my heart and making it skip a beat.
We all have within us the desire to know all things and control all things. And when women, specifically, are out of control, anxiety, worry, fear, and insecurity manifest themselves.
That’s when we begin to feel divided and experience anxiety. When we want control where we shouldn’t or can’t have it.
→ How to FIGHT BACK!
- 1. Trust, and believe, that Jesus paid the price for you to be set free.
- You cannot say “I believe in God” or “I trust God” and not obey.
Trust and belief demand obedience. Meaning, you must take control of your thoughts, and begin to act on what the Word of God says.
- You repent of worry.
You forgive if offense resides in your heart.
You take captive your thoughts.
By our RESPONSE we show God we trust him.
2. Feed yourself TRUTH.
The Proverb of Two Wolves:
An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. “A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy.
“It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.” He continued, “The other is good – he is joy, peace, love hope serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.”
The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”
The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”
There is a battle going on within each of us; it’s between sin and God.
“…Sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.”
– Genesis 4:7
↑ This is where the internal division comes.
That word ‘desire‘ means to “intensely go after”, or, in this context: “to control”.
Sin wants to control us. Likewise, we want to control everything else.
Control manifests in many ways, but here I am talking about how the need to control manifests itself through anxiety and fear.
Anxiety will reign in your life, as long as you feed it. As long as you need control to feel safe, anxiety and fear will rob your safety.
So, which wolf will you feed?
Anxiety & Control?
Truth & Love?
When I saw I needed to change the things I fed and dwelled on, I started by implementing the discipline of morning devotions. If I wanted God to be the strongest within me, then I knew I needed to go to the Bible to be fed.
Start reading in the book of Matthew, and study the life of Jesus, and there you’ll find the exchange of anxiety for peace.
And remember, this takes time and is a process. Be firm in your commitment to growing, but have grace with yourself when you stumble.
“The Lord directs the steps of the godly.
He delights in every detail of their lives.
Though they stumble, they will never fall,
for the Lord holds them by the hand.”
– Psalm 37:23-24
PS! My next post will be PRACTICAL tips for FEEDING TRUTH & LOVE IN YOUR MIND, not anxiety. I started with this because I believe we need to understand what is happening internally before we can be equipped to fight back.
If you know you’ll need that next post, make sure you subscribe to the blog and keep your eyes peeled for more ways to overcome!
And AS ALWAYS, please share this if you know someone who is dealing with anxiety, so they too can overcome! ♥♥