Life with anxiety is a pretty common phenomenon these days. It took me more than 6 years to admit to myself that I had a problem. That’s 2160 days; 52,560 hours. Some of those hours were better than others, but if I am honest most of those hours were filled with what I liked to call an underlying despair.
I couldn’t admit to myself that anxiety was an issue. That anxiety was my issue. It seemed so antithetical to the faith that was the foundation of my life. See, in 2010, I had to admit that depression was a real issue in my life. An issue that rocked this idea that my faith was supposed to be unshakable and held by God.
Depression itself almost pulled me from Christianity. Now anxiety was striving to do this very thing again.
Anxiety was too much. Anxiety is too much. And for 52,560 hours anxiety was incompatible with the reality of my Christian faith. If only I cast my cares on Jesus enough, I would be relieved from this crippling mental weakness.
If only my faith was made stronger, if only I could find a place where I was made perfect in the weakness with which I was suffering. After all, with great blessing comes great cost right? This is probably just a thorn in my side.
So, instead of identifying and working against my medical struggle, I looked to it as a pathway to greater spirituality. I was filling up in my body the suffering of Jesus, after all.
Hours slipped into days - days where getting out of bed began with the insurmountable challenge to push past the rock in my stomach. Anxiety didn’t only snatch my normal days but even vacations.
The vacations that I had spent month after month anticipating saving for, only served to cripple me because I didn’t have my normal coping mechanisms available. I didn’t have my patterns to follow. I couldn’t straighten up my house or go on a run.
I only had time and new experiences before me, and so I bit my lip and made it through the day. As many could imagine, sleep quickly became my greatest friend.
All of this was my predestined reality handed down from God in the most sovereign fashion; trying my soul until it found its end.
Away from Christian noise
But then something miraculous happened. Quietly and persistently, a Godly friend began to steer my attention away from the Christian noise and toward what would ultimately bring the first steps of healing.
He began to tell me that this was not a punishment from God. He reminded me to see my anxiety as an illness that is not solved by determination and faith.
He spoke life into a corner of my heart that had long given up on hope of God’s intervention and slowly, after many sessions with a therapist, I turned to medicine. This medicine changed my life, and the thing is: God is still in my medication as much as he was in my prayers and desperation.
I share this as an attempt to speak to those of you who may have given up hope in the midst of your mental anguish. I want to speak to those of you in the church who after years and years of being told that you just didn’t have enough hope or faith in God, that God is in your prayers and in medication.
You don’t have to suffer any more. Jesus took even this on himself when he was among us. He felt the weight of anxiety until blood fell from his face. It won’t make your faith less if you choose the pathway of medication.
If you have suffered under the mind-numbing weight of anxiety, please speak to your doctor, the healing of the Lord could still be found.
Dan Peterson (25) lives near Chicago, Illinois, USA where he works in refugee resettlement with World Relief. He enjoys discovering old books, new places, and good coffees. His dream is to summit a mountain on every continent and have a pet pygmy marmoset.
Dan Peterson's previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/dan-peterson.html
Dan Peterson is an American young writer from Chicago, ministering in the refugee arena. Dan is a musician and personal fitness trainer.Dan Peterson's previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/dan-peterson.html