I usually end with Bible verses, however, it is appropriate that I begin with a verse this time. “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:7 NKJV
Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines fear as the following:
1 a: an unpleasant often strong emotion caused by anticipation or awareness of
b (1) : an instance of this emotion (2) : a state marked by this emotion
2 : anxious concern : solicitude
3 : profound reverence and awe especially toward God
4 : reason for alarm : danger
I suffer from anxiety and struggle with depression. I’ve battled with depression most of my life. The anxiety developed as a result of traumatic events in my life. The anxiety and depression have, at times, been crippling and even debilitating. I’ve suffered panic attacks and been confined to my bed. No one in my family knows that I struggle with these things because it is not always visible. The anxiety causes me to appear distant, as if I do not want to be around my family. In reality, it’s social anxiety rearing its ugly head. It takes a lot of energy for me to socialize with other people. It takes even more energy to socialize with strangers. I don’t invite people over and I often skip engagements. It’s not that I do not want to see my family and friends. It’s just that I’d rather be home alone where I do not have to try to be social and hide the fact that I am socially awkward. The bigger the event, the greater the anxiety. The more strangers there are, the greater the pressure to figure out what is socially acceptable and be “normal”, there by increasing the anxiety. You would never know all of this just by looking at me.
Anxiety and fear are mutually related. Fear causes anxiety and anxiety causes fear. Both can illicit a fight or flight response. They differ in what they focus on. Fear focuses on a real danger. Anxiety focuses on an imaginary danger. Let me explain. Arachnophobia is the fear of spiders. Spiders are real, some of them are poisonous and some bites really hurt. This fear is focused on something real…spiders. Anxiety is panicking about situation that may happen, like the possibility of running into an enemy and that encounter going poorly. This is focused on something imaginary. You have not encountered that person and there is no guaranteed that the encounter will go poorly. Even though people struggling with anxiety focus on imaginary causes of their fears and anxieties, it does not diminish the feelings that are elicited or the physical responses that result. The feelings, the experience, and the effects are all very real. For more information, read this article on Very Well Mind.
My struggle with anxiety prevents me from building new friendships and establishing new relationships with people. I’ve taught myself to distrust people. If you do not already have my trust, good luck trying to earn it. My problem, as I have learned, is that I put my trust in people in the first place. That was my first mistake. The Bible is clear. “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6 NKJV If I had held true to God’s Word, I might not be struggling with anxiety and depression. As I look back and reflect on many of the traumatic experiences I’ve endured, I can identify warnings, red flags, and moments when I believe God was advising me against certain decisions. I was directing my own path instead of letting God take over and navigate. I relied on my own understanding, which isn’t much compared to God’s. He knows and sees all. He knows me better than I know myself. He created me, designed every part of me. My perceived talents are gifts from God, not of my own design. He wants the best for me. He says so in Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the thoughts that I think towards you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” NKJV God loves me so much that He took the time to create me to His standards in His own image. I am beautifully ad wonderfully made by Him. How awesome is that?!
The responsibility for much of my struggles rest with me. There were certain people and situations that I should have walked away from long before the deep-rooted trauma had the opportunity to take place. I allowed my heart for people, desire to not disappoint others, and desire to belong supersede my obedience to God. I was loyal to people and things that were not loyal to me. God knew. I didn’t listen. So, as I try to overcome my struggles with anxiety and depression, I must remind myself to trust God. I must remember to cast all my cares on Him. In the moments I struggle most, I must speak life over myself. “Whenever I am afraid, I will trust in You.” Psalms 56:3 NKJV
Every scripture I quoted in this post helps me to remember it’s not the people I should be trusting. It is my God whom I should trust, and trust Him alone. I love people. I love to help. It beings me great joy. The anxiety ad depression have prevented me from interacting with people. I second guess myself because I am socially awkward and always wonder what someone is thinking of me. When I remember to place my focus on God and concern myself only with what He thinks of me, things are better. It’s not easy, but it does get easier. As I learn to trust God more and rely on His plan for my life, the instances of anxiety attacks and depression decrease. As they decrease, I am more able to be my authentic self, unapologetically. When I shine, it is not because of me, but rather because of the God in me shining through. I’m finding my blank slate, erasing my fears, and doing away with preconceived notions which would keep me anxious and depressed. I’m re-writing my story. Find your blank slate.
Because of God, and only with God, I am Expertly Me. Be Expertly You.
What are you afraid of?