To the Christian with Anxiety:
I understand completely what you’re feeling. Having anxiety alone is exhausting, but trying to act like you’re fine adds another load to your shoulders. Now add being a Christian on top of it.
I’ve had anxiety for as long as I can remember, but the debilitating anxiety has only been for the last six or so years. I’ve hid it, for the most part. I usually can be having really bad anxiety, and the person across the table from me wouldn’t know. But that’s what we do- hide it. We put on a mask, and act like nothing is wrong.
People will tell you being a Christian makes everything perfect- it doesn’t. I had anxiety before I got saved, but it didn’t get better afterwards. Fourth grade is the first time I remember having an anxiety attack- I got saved a year later. I then suffered a tremendous amount of anxiety my first few years of high school (to the point suicide was considered)- I got baptized in eleventh grade. There are days I can’t go to class, and waking up is a task I don’t even want to think about- I go to a Christian University.
So the people telling you that you can’t have anxiety and be a Christian are wrong.
Being a Christian does not make the anxiety go away. I’ve had people tell me that I should pray more, or that I’m not praying the right prayer- they are wrong.
I’m sure people have thrown this verse at you many times- Philippians 4:6 “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”
I agree, you should pray and ask God to help you in the anxious situations, but praying doesn’t take it away. People don’t realize that although it can help you relax, it will not take away the anxiety, for the most part.
A lot of people will have anxiety every so often- maybe about a test, a first date, financial situation, or an awkward gathering. There’s a huge difference between normal situations that causes the normal stress and anxious moments, and an anxiety disorder.
God can ease up the anxiety, yes. But people don’t understand that the anxiety we face is every day, about stupid things. Yes, I did say stupid- because that’s what it is.
I find myself driving to a restaurant, and unable to get out of my car, so I put the car in reverse, and go back home.
I go to the store, and it sometimes takes me an hour to be able to physically open my car door, because the anxiety attacks are too powerful.
I’ve gone to class before, and literally couldn’t walk in the door, so I went back to my dorm.
I always use the self-checkout registers at stores.
I reread and reread (and reread again) text messages before I send them.
To say I overthink everything is an understatement.
I will do anything to avoid a phone call. Make my own appointments? Eh- takes forever to convince myself that I literally must make the appointment.
I don’t speak up in class even when I am positive I know the answer, with fear that somehow that answer will be wrong.
Eating in front of people I’m not comfortable with brings anxiety- for whatever reason (it’s just eating, but apparently my mind thinks it needs to go crazy over this).
I hate going places alone.
I count money over and over again before I pay.
Crowded places are the worst (malls, stores, amusement parks, parties, churches- yes, churches cause anxiety for me too).
Driving with people in the car is another lovely anxiety trigger.
And I’m sure you can relate to all these. These aren’t even the full list, just the basic ones. People don’t realize how much anxiety controls the lives of those it captivates. I cannot stand when people throw Bible verses at you like that will fix it. Now I am not saying that my faith hasn’t helped me with this, because it has! I honestly don’t know where I would be without God, because He has been by my side through each anxiety attack, and each anxious moment, and this lovely rollercoaster. Praying helps take my mind off whatever is making me anxious for the moment, and gives me a sense of peace, but it doesn’t alleviate the anxiety.
If you’re like me, you probably rarely talk about the anxiety because you’re known as the Christian, and the stigma is you shouldn’t have problems.
I want you to know this: having anxiety doesn’t make you any less of a Christian, just like not having anxiety doesn’t make you more of a Christian. You don’t love God less with each anxiety attack. This doesn’t mean that your relationship with Him is lacking something. It just means you are a Christian who happens to suffer from anxiety. Simple as that.
It’s hard, and I know that. I know how much you want to give up. I know how badly you wish this wasn’t something you had to go through. I wish the same, for both of us. But I believe with all my heart, that God is with us, through every single trial, and even when He doesn’t take away the anxiety, our God is still an amazing God.
You are a warrior. You are a fighter. You can and will survive. Anxiety is one of the toughest things to deal with on a daily basis, but the one thing I can say through my years dealing with this, is it has made my relationship with God so much stronger. He is with me daily, and He is with you. Don’t let the people tell you that you need to pray more and the anxiety will be gone. Just focus on your relationship with Christ, focus on yourself, and just get through each day.
You will be okay.