Reading through some fellow bloggers’ posts tonight I was struck by the number of people struggling with deep seeded anxiety and depression. Many of them expressed such an overwhelming feeling of hopelessness. It made me want to run out into the middle of the field, wave a big banner and yell, “There IS hope! There really and truly IS!” But then I realized what my hope is built on and I got to wondering about how other people cope.
Anyone who knows me well knows I am no stranger to anxiety, though I count myself one of the most fortunate ones. The panic attacks I’ve experienced have all been, for the most part, linked to difficult life changes – marital and financial struggle and subsequent divorce, job change, situational and hormonal changes (Oh Yes, THANK YOU Mother Nature for the early menopausal symptoms). It is an extremely frightening thing to know in your head you need to calm down while having absolutely no control over the fight or flight reaction racing away within you. It is sometimes a result of a trigger and other times simply the body’s response to an overly stressed heart and mind – an alarm that has no preset timer. It simply goes off when it will. That is what makes it so frustrating. There is no reasoning it away. It will last as long as it lasts while the sufferer engages in various attempts to quiet the body and return order to things. Sometimes that order is short lived, other times it can last days, weeks, months, or years before another something-or-other triggers the body’s now heightened response to stress. But what truly helps people cope?
For me it is the blessed realization that I never was nor ever will be perfect. Regardless of how hard I strive, seek, push myself, will it, or even pray for it, perfection is not only elusive but impossible. I know without a doubt there will be things I cannot possibly forsee in my future nor prepare for. My attempts to succeed in certain areas may or may not actually result in success by any monetary definition of the word. Success means different things to different people, I realize. My point is that it is expectation that is the doozy here. What I expect myself to achieve may not be what I am truly able to achieve. It is what I do with my disappointments, when my own expectations are not met, that will determine my feelings about my level of success. My expectations of success will determine the scale with which I evaluate myself. My level of perceived success or failure will then ultimately determine my sense of self worth. Where do we get our rubric from? How do we decide what makes a worthwhile person? What scale are we using? I personally am so thankful for mine. It is one I have to return to time and time again. It is one that has absolutely nothing to do with me and yet it tells me who I am and what I’m worth.
My scale tells me that I am loved. John 3:16-17 I don’t have to “clean up” to be loved by God. Romans 5:8-11 I can approach Him as is and it is HE who makes me worth saving, not me. Speaking of worth, He says I am worth dying for and because of my sin, His grace grows greater Romans 5:20-21. It is He who works inside of me to do good because His Holy Spirit lives within me as a believer. Phil 2:13 These are the promises of God. I don’t have to clean up to come to Him. I can come as I am; and I don’t have to save myself, it’s He who does the saving. He calls me beloved and finds me personally worth dying for. Because He knows how flawed I am, He reached out to me. He made sure that nothing could separate me from His love by making His own Son pay the penalty for what I personally have done. All of my past? Gone. Who else could love you more than that? Who else in your life has said to you, “You’re a mess, but you’re my little mess and I’m crazy about you. I’ll help you through whatever you’re going through if you’ll let me do the healing, let me bring good out of your pain, let me be your strength. Let me love you like noone else. You can’t make me stop. I’ll never leave. I’ve been here all along waiting for you to look at me, notice me, ask me and let me be your Savior.”
How can I be hopeless when I know there is Someone who finds me so stinkin’ irresistable that He took all of the punishment for my screw ups and then had the gall to say, “What screw ups? I don’t remember any screw ups! You’re my sweet angel!” How can I be hopeless when I know God is working in me through His Holy Spirit to change me, heal me, make me new and that His version of new totally blows out of the water any stupid thing I ever did, erases it, and lets me emerge “not guilty?” How can I be hopeless when He tells me He has good plans for me, for hope and a future? Jeremiah 29:11-14
He continues to teach me day after day that my job is simple – to depend on Him. That sounds totally crazy, doesn’t it? Give up control of your life to Someone you can’t see who, in your opinion, may or may not exist in desperate hope that He might actually show up and blow your socks off, teach you a new way to live and free you from stuff you never knew you were in bondage to? To that I have one more promise to add. Jeremiah 29:13
So if you are one of the many, the anxiety filled, the fear riddled, the panicked, I urge you to try on my scale for size. See if you don’t like how much better you look through His eyes.
On a side note, I would like to say that I am a firm believer that we are blessed to have medications that can give relief and make life not only manageable but downright healthy feeling for those suffering from anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, and a myriad of other conditions that I may be entirely quite ignorant of. Please feel free to educate me. I won’t take it personally…
Photo Courtesy of Dan/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net
For more encouragement on how to live a life depending on Christ, see “Freedom in Dependence: 30 Days Closer to Christ.”