I am a confident girl. I’m the funny, never-let-them-see-you-sweat girl. I have a great living situation, a full-time job, a budding relationship. I even have a puppy. From my Instagram and Twitter profiles, it looks like I am the happiest girl in the world.
And yet, I am caught up in the most crippling bout with anxiety.
From the outside, you would never know. I have packaged myself rather nicely, and I commend myself for trying really hard. But if I’m being honest, that’s all it is: trying. At this point, I still feel like I don’t measure up. I am terrified of people finding out, of being discovered, of looking like a fraud, of being broken.
I want to hide from my Christian community. I am ashamed that my faith isn’t stronger and my identity isn’t more secure.
In my experience, anxiety is like being lost at sea at night; I’m without a raft, in the middle of a typhoon. I can’t see the shore. There is nothing to hold on to or stabilize me. It is dark, loud, and I feel incredibly alone. When the waves crash in the middle of my ocean of anxiety, there isn’t anything to bump into; just more darkness, more abyss, more nothing. While I am trying to hold on for dear life, I only come up with fistfuls of more fear. The fear begets more fear, and I sink down in a panic for what feels like the 100th time.
In spite of all this, I can still say that I know Jesus. I can say that I love Him. I’ve hitched my wagon to His. I’m rather helplessly in love with Him, eternally grateful for His love.
I know the verses. I know how many times the Bible says, “Fear not.” I know to cast my cares on Him; I know He has good plans for me; I know I know I know! I know I shouldn’t be this way or feel this way, and yet I do. I know I should have freedom, but I don’t.
Would Jesus quote Scripture to those of us who battle anxiety? The Jesus I know would wrap me up tight, listen closely, and lean in. I’m not denying the importance of truth, but I am wondering if sometimes there’s more truth and honesty in just being. If we want to be able to comfort our anxious and depressed friends, we need to consider this. As a Christian and someone who works in full-time ministry, I just keep pounding myself over the head with Scripture, Christian writings, formulas to fix it. I’m starting to wonder if what I really need is the body of Christ with open and willing arms, nonjudgmental ears, and quiet lips.
I really don’t need another Bible verse. I need a hug.
Yes, I am a Christian and I am also battling anxiety. This is the tension I am currently living with, and I’m trying to be more honest about it. One day I’ll say, “I’m a Christian and I’m also fill-in-the-blank.” But for now this is my present darkness. For now, I need my community and the Church at large to just love me. For now, that is enough.
Photo by (Flickr CC): Lydia Brooks.