“You will find that it is necessary to let things go; simply for the reason that they are heavy.” C Joybell C
It’s funny how even here, where the very foundation of this blog is on being broken and imperfect (“crooked”), I try to show you my best, most made-up, hippest, on-trend self.
Since the age of nine, I have worked very hard at hiding the things that burden me. I have known the joy of transparency in friendships, but I have also encountered people who readily toss their heavy things on you—no sooner have you introduced yourself than you’re helping hold the baggage of a stranger. It is a difficult balance, knowing when to ask for a hand with those burdens and when to carry them discreetly.
My hands would shake from a young age. It was hard to breathe and hard to eat, pretty basic requirements for living—and living, sheesh, I didn’t feel like I was doing that easily either. An anxiety disorder, they called it. A monkey on my back.
Parents, that moment your kids have simultaneous meltdowns (likely while traveling or preparing dinner) and you cannot find the mind power to focus on the simplest of tasks: stir the soup, prepare the sippy cup, just keep driving. This is how an anxiety attack makes you feel. It’s more than a monkey on your back. It’s like trying to maintain a normal life with a 200-lb gorilla clutching your shoulders.
I have hidden and lied and made distractions all for the sake of pretense so many times in the last 17 years. Because who could possibly understand this? And more importantly, who would be up for helping me lug this fat ape around? I was silent for a long time.
And then I met someone else who struggled with it.
And then someone else. And someone else. And then there were many of you who dared to reveal your burdens and helped me carry mine.
As a teenager I loved the song, “I’m Not Ok (I Promise)” by My Chemical Romance. Do you guys remember this song? It’s kind of an emo-anthem (don’t judge me), but I loved how open the lead singer was, screaming the chorus: “I’M NOT OK!” Even now it’s humorously liberating.
What I didn’t know then that I know now is that unburdening yourself is just the beginning of the fight. Have you heard that amazing Edwin Louis Cole quote: “You don’t drown by falling in the water; you drown by staying there.” It’s normal to not be ok, but it isn’t good. Sometimes the unburdening rest of honesty feels so free, that we forget it’s not enough.
“You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord your God is an everlasting rock.” Isaiah 26:3-4
Anxiety is an attack of lies, sticky, almost-truths that begin as a whisper until you find yourself trying to tune out roaring fear with a mantra of “just keep driving.” This is not free living. No amount of burden sharing, deep breathing, or inspirational quotes can fix this.
The Bible is referred to as a sword of truth. In an anxiety attack, I see it that way. Scripture is full of books with laws, history, poetry, even prophesies. Tucked throughout these books are promises. These are my swords. When I feel an attack coming and start shaking for fear of the fear itself, I start praying God’s words back to him: “God, you keep in perfect peace him whose mind is stayed on you. Stay my mind on you. Give me your peace. I need your help.”
He has never broken a promise yet.
So we kill the monkey. And yeah, I’m not ok. But my God is my strength, a refuge, an ever present help.
This is where the joy is in my crooked self. If you share in the struggle with anxiety, pay Simply Clarke a visit where she shares verses specifically for anxiety. If you’re interested in what other promises you can find in the Bible, here are a few great ones to start with:
I’ll be back next week with some pretty sweet yard projects we’ve been working on. Looking forward to sharing our little baby steps of progress with you guys.