“Deep breaths, Kelley. You’ve got this,” I said to myself.
“Inhale. 1-2-3. Exhale. 1-2-3.”
For the last decade I’ve experienced everything from mild to moderate anxiety, to full-blown panic, but never when flying – until now.
That’s the tricky thing with consuming anxiety – and any mental disorder for that matter – sometimes there’s a circumstance that triggers it, but not always.
I couldn’t simply shake these anxious feelings as desperately as I wanted to. I couldn’t pretend I was okay. This felt all-consuming. If I didn’t deal with this consuming anxiety properly, I knew it would change into full-blown panic.
Breathe through it
So, one deep breath and prayer at a time, I pushed through it. The angst. Uneasiness. Discomfort. Shaking. Fear.
My heart rate started slowing down and my mind started quieting.
I took one last deep breath as I caught a glance of the saguaro cacti out our window. We made it to our destination: Phoenix, Arizona. Thank goodness, I thought.
Spiritual thirst and desperate for Jesus
I desperately needed this vacation but wasn’t sure how to get myself out of this ‘fog’ to fully enjoy it.
I didn’t want to miss the beautiful moments.
Or have my consuming anxiety and my ability to cope with it ruin this trip. I had anxiety about having anxiety, which – you guessed it – perpetuated more anxiety. It’s a cycle I wouldn’t wish upon anyone.
Below the intense anxiety, I knew deep down, I was spiritually thirsty. Parched. Desperate for water. My heart and mind felt like the environment I found myself in a desert. I knew that this type of thirst and need only Jesus Himself could satisfy.
So, I decided each day to let my anxiety be a catalyst to drive me to the One who cares deeply for me: God. I needed to fully surrender. It was the only way. Each day, these difficult feelings of anxiety brought me to my knees. It forced me into desperation.
But after I spent time with God again and again, I could slowly feel God’s peace washing over me, little by little.
God was with me through all the consuming anxiety. He never left my side. And I rested in that truth.
Fix your eyes on Him
I fixed my eyes on Jesus and He urged me to slow down, focusing on being fully present in each moment and thanking Him for every experience.
I prayed fervently. First thing in the morning, when getting ready for the day, and at every mealtime. I prayed while driving to our next destination and as I lay my head down each night. I thanked God for being with me and helping me manage the anxiety I felt.
I needed to hear God’s voice above all the chatter in my head. I didn’t want to listen to or feed the thoughts in my mind. And when I got quiet – I heard God speak to me so clearly that it brought me to tears of gratitude.
I want to remind you today that we serve a God that cares deeply for you.
Whatever challenge or difficult feelings you’re facing today, know that you can run to your Savior, and He will meet you with open arms.
While Jesus may not take away your anxiety, I’ve learned that He often provides healing and
relief through working with a therapist, taking medication, and through practices like meditation
and regular exercise. I encourage you to seek whichever treatment plan works well for you and
alleviates your anxiety.
When you thirst, He will quench your thirst. When you feel unsteady, He will stabilize you. When you feel scared, He will give you peace. When you reach out with a need, He will provide.
Anxiety – if you allow it –- can become a catalyst for our spiritual growth, driving you back to Jesus with longing and dependence on Him alone.
Don’t let consuming anxiety break you – let it be a signal that you need to pray and seek the One who cares deeply for you. God is with you now and holding you close.
If you enjoyed this post, I know you’ll enjoy The Anxious Mind Three-Day Devotional: Peace, Calm & Stability, a free e-book encouragement for the anxious and overwhelmed.