How to Let Go of Anxiety
Around here lately, things have been tough.
One of those weeks where you can feel like you’re losing your mind. I used to be afraid to say that, because aren’t I supposed to have it all together?
But it was a PMS emotional migraine, sad I had to move San Francisco and leave all my friends behind, will I ever have any friends, my dog is sick, my bills are mounting, infertility sucks, am I going crazy or am I just depressed, shitty (sorry, but let’s get real) type weeks.
I had to take my dog RosieTheChippin to the vet hospital and leave her on an IV three times. The vet couldn’t figure out what was wrong with her, because she’d stopped eating. Hearing her whines and pleading cries as I left her in that little cage was akin to torture.
I came back home to my bench outside and cried. I could feel the anxiety and panic building, my heart pounding.
I was afraid I was going to lose her.
There are about a million reasons why this event is so triggering for me. But Rosie has been my hiking companion, joy giver, precious thing to nurture and love through my long years of infertility.
She has been a constant in a world of chaos.
The thought of something happening to her drives a wedge of ice through my soul.
I’m not one of those “The universe is good” type people. I want to be. But I’m more like, the universe is probably going to punch you in the gut, poop on your head, and leave you in the gutter bleeding type people. I do work around this, but that’s my default. So when something starts to go wrong, I immediately imagine the worst case scenario.
This is because the worst case scenario has tended to happen in my life. Two ectopic pregnancies just seems mean. I know God is good, I know He loves me and yet sometimes I feel like I’m Adele singing, “Hello? Can you hear me?” towards the sky.
So many promises and yet you’re staring stark reality in the face.
I wanted to push through my to do list and not cry. I wanted to force myself to face the world and be ok.
Instead I did what I knew I needed: Hibernation.
I sat on that bench and journaled so many fears, I let the ink ooze out onto the paper with my grief. I do this so I can fight to the other side.
Grieving is the only pathway I know through.
I want to trust you, but it’s hard. I’m terrified. Please rebuild my trust in you.
For a while I sit and nothing happens.
Sometimes God is in the silences between our surrender, waiting, hovering without words.
Then I turn to a page in the worn Bible to Psalm 147:
“The Lord takes pleasure in those who fear Him, in those who hope in His mercy.”
Hope is exhausting.
But I do it anyway. I keep fighting to surrender, fighting to breathe, to release. Because deep down I do believe I can hope in His mercy even if that looks different than I want it to. He takes pleasure in me when I try.
I believe He wants to offer me mercy, He wants to sit with me in the middle of my terror and disappointment.
Eventually I hear Him asking, “Do you trust me?”
Yes I trust you.
Then don’t worry, I hear Him whisper back.
I let my lungs expand with breath. I breathe in the wildflowers on the wind, fragrant as honey.
Every breath out is a letting go.
Trust is saying I believe God is good even though things are gritty and fear and loss taunt me.
Doing the right stuff, the stuff you know you need to do, is annoying. But eventually it pays off. Deep down I know perseverance produces character, and character, hope.
All last week, I just kept declaring in my heart what I know to be true: God is good. He wants to heal Rosie. I kept declaring life over her.
A few days later, I am hiking with Rosie, watching her tail wag as she chases a lizard into the rocks. The wind picks up but the sun is still warm on my skin. I don’t care if I look crazy, I throw my arms up and laugh. I sigh a “Thank you.” Gratitude and joy overwhelm me. And not just because I got what I wanted, because she’s still not fully well and we’re still trying to figure out what’s wrong.
It’s because He is near.
Feeling all that pain allowed me to feel this pleasure.
The thing about grief is you can’t stuff it, you can’t numb it, you can’t push it aside. It finds you. And for a long while, it sucks. It sucks hard.
But numbing or avoiding are the cowardice paths of bypassing growth.
Somehow letting the tears flow, journaling out the fears, grieving the losses, make room for our souls to contain joy again.
It’s not perfect, but somehow letting Him bear our brokenness opens a tiny crevice of light in our souls.
*If you’re struggling with anxiety please don’t struggle alone. Seek out someone who can listen. I also provide coaching and pastoral counseling to missionaries and those in ministry or transition. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org today.