This post is going to be transparent, which is something I have been terrified of being for as long as I can remember. If you are looking for feel good and fluff, you might want to look elsewhere for awhile. There's your warning. :) I thought my childhood was a pretty decent one when I was young. My parents were divorced, that part stunk, but I got to see my Dad for 24 hours every weekend, except for one a month. We didn't have much, but I don't have any terrible memories as a young child.
Then my Mom met my stepdad and my world changed. We never knew what kind of mood he was going to be in that day or even that minute. It seemed like every thing that I said was wrong, so I stopped speaking unless I was spoken to and had no other choice. When they got married, we went to a Justice of the Peace and I objected. At 8 years old, of course the judge told me that not liking the man wasn't a good enough reason to object. That was one of the very last times I remember voicing my opinion about anything growing up. If we stopped for a burger, even though I hated the veggies, it could not be made to order, because that would take too long. Or if my stepdad was cooking steaks, everyone had to accept a medium steak because that's how he liked his. In my mind, that was saying that my preferences did not matter at all. I was not worth waiting 5 more minutes for my steak to be cooked the way I liked it. The first time my husband's(then boyfriend) Dad asked how I liked my steak cooked, I had no idea how to answer. I was fifteen and had no idea that the way I preferred my steak was well done. All I knew was I didn't want it pink. I was almost in tears at that one simple question, because that made me feel like someone cared. Since losing my Dad at 13, I had not felt like another adult man had cared for me.
So, I closed down. I hid by reading in my room all of the time, only coming out when I had no other choice. I spent a lot of time in the bathroom sick and worried that something was wrong with me, because I had so many stomach problems.
Going to school became terrifying. If I was not allowed to share my thoughts and feelings at home, where I should be safe, how could I share them with people at school? I think I spent more time in the bathroom sick in junior high and high school than in the classroom and it was all because of anxiety. College was much of the same. I was terrified of just being me and no one liking me.
Then we had children and I put my first child in preschool. I mapped out every restroom between our house and his preschool and don't know how many mornings I would have to stop and get him out of his car seat and run into the store, hoping to make it before I got sick.
I have always hated this side of me. I hate talking about anxiety. I will never forget mentioning needing to see a doctor about depression and anxiety to my mother in law and she told me that I just needed to have more faith. That was all my problem was. I needed to read and study the Bible more and pray more. All I needed to do was trust God. That's easy to say, but my stomach does not hear those words.
Then we moved to Texas last July. My anxiety was out of control when I thought about finding a new church, a new doctor for me and most of all a new pediatrician for my children. I found a physician's assistant that I absolutely love. I explained to her that I did not feel like I had enough faith and that was why I was dealing with so much anxiety. It had progressed from stomach craziness to severe chest pains to feeling incapable of leaving my house some days. I will never forget my PA, Kellie, telling me that it's the opposite. It's not that I am facing anxiety because of not having enough faith, it is because God has a great plan for my life and the devil is trying to prevent those plans from coming to fruition.
A few weeks ago, I received Emily Freeman's newsletter in my inbox. I was just giving it a quick glance and saw a book mentioned by a name I had never heard of, Rhett Smith. I clicked on the link because it mentioned a book The Anxious Christian. All of my life, I have viewed myself as unworthy, not a good enough Christian and honestly disliked who I was, simply because of my anxiety. The tag line of the book says, Can God Use Your Anxiety for Good? When I saw those words, my first thought was no way! My anxiety paralyzes me. It keeps me from going and doing many activities, because of fear. What if I'm stuck in the bathroom sick and miss the whole concert or field trip or whatever I want to enjoy? How can God use that for His good? We don't open up our house and invite community in as often as we should, because of my anxiety. We were created to live in community and enjoy community, so how can my anxiety be something good?
Part of the back of the book cover says: "In our journey of faith there are particular moments that produce a certain amount of anxiety. Often anxiety and/or worry has been looked upon as an "un-Christian" feeling to have. But The Anxious Christian conveys the message that anxiety can actually be helpful in our spiritual formation, and that God can use anxiety as a catalyst to move people forward in their life of faith. In that movement, anxiety's gift is that it allows us to face our resistance and fears, understand where those fears come from, and then make intentional choices about important issues such as career, marriage, money, and our sprititual lives. It's time to get unstuck."
I have got to tell you that this book might have been one of the most life changing books I have ever read in my life. I have no idea how many books I have read, but I promise you, it is many. Just reading the foreword had me hooked. The first chapter had me in tears. I love that Rhett includes quotes from different authors in the book, also. It gave me some ideas of other books that I might enjoy reading. The best thing that I got out of this book is that I am NOT alone! The enemy wants to isolate us and make us ashamed of things like our anxiety and depression. No one likes admitting that they have issues with anxiety or depression, because some people do not believe they are that big of a deal. My mother in law likes to just say I'm a worrier and I just need to trust God. I do trust God. I know that He knows everything I am going to face. I know that He knows about my anxiety. I have a whole new outlook on anxiety after reading this book. I do believe that God can use it for my good. I do believe that that might just be the way that he is choosing to mold me and shape me into the person He wants me to be.
This entire book just felt like it was full of hope and encouragement. It was an easy read and I am a fast reader, but I found myself wanting to read this book slowly and really think and pray on each chapter of the book. I feel like God pointed me to this book during this season of my life. Anxiety is something I have seriously feared for at least 25 years. Chest pains have sent me to the ER, thinking I was having a heart attack. This book has taught me that anxiety is not something to be feared. God could very well be using it to call me closer to Him and to show me my calling.
I would strongly recommend this book to anyone that has ever worried or faced anxiety in any form. It is very helpful and might be just what you need. I purchased the Kindle version, but I will also purchase the print version, because I want this book in my hands to go through again and highlight and write in the margins.