"I came, I saw, I had anxiety - so I left."
The words on a meme caught my attention recently as I was scrolling through social media.
"What?" I thought. "You left?"
My fingers flew over the keys as I typed my response to this post. You don't let anxiety tell you to leave. You make anxiety leave! Then I stopped myself. NOPE. I need to keep on scrolling. But I cannot forget the words; they keep rolling around in my mind. Is that what we're teaching people these days? I had a little anxiety, so I left?
I struggle with anxiety. It's hard for me to remember a time when I didn't feel afraid. There have been times when anxiety has so crippled me that I was truly concerned I might have a stroke. I've been too afraid to take my blood pressure because my pulse was pounding so hard in my ears I was seeing spots. I have passed out from anxiety. I have had major digestive distress, twitching eyes, uncontrollable shaking, dry mouth, crying, acid reflux, and more - all due to anxiety. But do you know what I have tried very hard not to do? Leave!
Anxiety has slowed me down. It has hurt me. But running away has never been a viable option.*
2 Timothy 1:7 says, "For God has not given us a spirit of fear; but of power and of love and of a sound mind."
Paul is referring to the fear of what might happen when we "stir up the gift of God that is in us." Timothy must have been facing some fear of walking boldly into his calling, and Paul reminds him that fear isn't from the Lord.
One of the greatest fears I face raises its ugly head whenever I start to do anything to promote my book or speaking ministry. I believe with all my heart that writing that book and telling our story brings glory to God's name, but the crippling fear that tries to overwhelm me says that it's all about me. It lies to me about who gets the glory from this work I do. If it's all about me, I will curl up in a corner and watch Netflix all day while snuggling with my kids. Seriously. But to bring glory to God, I will obediently follow where He leads.
Anxiety tries to tell me to go home. Anxiety says, "Why expose yourself to ridicule, disappointment, and criticism? Just go be comfortable in your sweats on the couch."
Anxiety says, "This is too hard."
But what does God say? In John 12:27-28, Jesus says, “Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name!”
Jesus didn't want to die the horrible, tortuous death that He knew was coming. His soul was troubled! Should He ask God to save Him from what's to come? The answer is a resounding, "NO!" What was about to come was the very reason He was sent to earth - to glorify the name of God.
All Christians have the same calling - to bring glory to God's name. We have all been given unique gifts to accomplish that goal, but the goal is always the same. We are here to glorify God's name. How will we do that if we allow anxiety to so cripple us that we go home every time we're a little afraid?
But we whine to God, "I'm uncomfortable. I don't like it."
Jesus wasn't comfortable when He fulfilled His calling on earth by dying on the cross. He wasn't comfortable when He fasted for 40 days in the wilderness. He wasn't comfortable growing up as the son of a girl who claimed to be a virgin. What about Jesus' life was actually comfortable? So why do we so easily believe that if we're living a life of service to God, we'll be comfortable and things will be easy?
Join me, with a pounding heart and shaking hands, with a dry throat and an upset tummy, as we boldly proclaim that anxiety will not send us home today! We will do what God has called us to do even when we are afraid. We will go after things that are much too great for us. There may be times when we are so far beyond exhausted that we can barely stand up, but we will stand. This is the very reason why we are here on earth - to bring glory to God's name!
*The only exception to this statement is the rare occasion where I have realized that anxiety was actually protecting me from harm by warning me of danger. In those rare cases, I have made changes to the direction I was headed in and felt immediate relief. That is not the kind of anxiety I am referring to in this post.
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