By Kelly Fowler
Picture this: I’m sitting on my comfortable couch in my beautiful home with my wonderful husband asleep in the next room. My refrigerator is full, my car that carries me wherever I need to go is tucked into the garage, and a quiet hum reminds me that I have air conditioning keeping me cool. In the midst of what seems the essence of a peace, my heart is restless. I am short of breath. I begin to cry. This is not a new feeling, no—I have been experiencing this overwhelming defeat for most of the summer. Anxiety. But this time it is different because this time I get up from the couch, I find my Bible, I open it, and I read, “In the multitude of my anxieties within me, Your comforts delight my soul” (Psalm 94:19, NKJV).
For much of my life, I have been an introverted person with little interest in the world outside of my close friends and family. It was not until recently that those mild discomforts and awkward mannerisms turned into full-blown anxiety. Having been raised in the church, I would adamantly claim that I am a Christian to anyone who asked. Church is a place of comfort that I have gone to religiously…no pun intended, for all my life. It is this routine that I believe blinded me to what was really happening in my life. While I was doing all of the things I had always done, praying all of the prayers I had always prayed, reading the verses I had always read…I forgot that my God is the same God He has always been.
It is embarrassing to admit how long it took me to pick up my Bible in the midst of an anxiety attack. Despite my knowledge of the Word, I still tried handling things my way, as if God had empowered me to do so and that was good enough. I turned to the internet, to friends, to my husband, to my parents, to the gym, to school, to work, to this distraction and that distraction, and I grew more and more uncomfortable and more and more unable and wondered why after all that I still felt so inadequate. So, as I tried to hold myself up, I grew weak until eventually the bough broke, and I fell.
God is clear that we are not to carry the burdens of this life alone. 1 Peter 5:6-7 tells us to “humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you” (NKJV). Ah. How simple. It is so easy in the all-consuming world we live in right now to make our relationship with God just another part of our routine. In doing this, I let my anxieties, fears, and worries take over before reaching out to Him in prayer. I turned to other avenues for peace before opening my Bible. The truth is that I should have been reaching for my Bible before…His Word before my stress, His Word before my worry, His Word before the bough broke.
The point is that even though we know, it doesn’t always mean that we acknowledge. I know the power my God holds. I know the powerful truth His Word reveals. I know the positive effect He has in my life. Yet I couldn’t acknowledge that He was the answer to this problem. We are often encouraged by this world to be strong and courageous women who can fend for ourselves and handle our problems without the help of others. Strength and courage are wonderful attributes, but I encourage you to find those things in your relationship with God. Let the reflection of Jesus in your life be the source of your strength. Cultivate that strength so that when work is tough, a family member dies, a pandemic hits close to home, and everything turns upside down…you can draw from that, and God can pull you through it. By acknowledging the strength that comes from God, we can eradicate the idea that depending on ourselves is strength and submit fully to the source of true peace. By acknowledging that my strength comes from God, I can fight my anxiety. We can find comfort as His Word tells us, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7, NKJV).