A while back, the church I go to, Cross Point, did a series called “Over It”.
It was a-w-e-s-o-m-e and awful at the same time. But awful in a good way because it pulled some stuff up and out from deep within me.
The second sermon in the series was called “Over It: Work Through Worry“. It began with a young woman reading a letter she had written.
The letter began with, “Dear Anxiety”.
Those words had my attention.
You see, I had my first panic attack in 2nd grade. I was on the school bus and the school bus driver took a dramatically different route than usual and I panicked. Full blown panic attack. I remember my friends trying to calm me down and I think the school bus driver even had to stop to talk to me and try to calm me down too. By the time I got home, I was fine. “Fine”. I never said anything to my parents about what had happened.
I didn’t even know what anxiety was until college. Until my Psychology 101 class. My professor taught us about anxiety and listed the symptoms and side effects. I was shocked to realize, “Wow, I think I have anxiety.”
I had been struggling with anxiety for years but little did I know that my college and post-college years would end up being the worst. Knowing what anxiety was did little to help me overcome it.
I was so inspired to write a letter and really begin my fight to overcome anxiety, so later that week I went to a quiet place where I could be undisturbed and wrote that letter.
I recently found that letter and although it is not a letter written to God, I know he was with me then, just as he with me now. He was with me through it all.
This letter is a testament to just that.
You were there before I knew what you really were. I can remember my first anxiety attack when I was in 2nd grade. I’ve been at war with you ever since.
I’m writing to tell you what you are–fear and lies. You’ve been creating a deep-sense of fear, fear born from lies, for a very long time. I’m also writing to tell you what you are not–strength and truth. You are not me.
You made me believe I was unworthy.
You made me believe I was unlovable.
You made me believe that my track record is my present and future and there’s no point in hoping for better.
You made me believe that no one could ever really love me. That people only want to use me.
You made me believe that I’d never amount to anything.
You made me believe that in order to protect myself from pain as much as possible I’d have to try and control every situation.
You made me feel ugly.
You made me miss nights with friends and memories made with loved ones.
You made me eat too little and then too much.
You made me believe that God made a mistake when he made me.
You made me want to die just to make it stop.
I’m done with you anxiety. I’m taking my life back. I know the Truth now.
God is my rock, not you. He is my strength and I trust him to deliver me from you. He holds the Truth and he holds me. My God can do anything even when you tell me I can do nothing.
I’m going to raise my hands in worship, not cover my face in shame. My God calls me whole even when you call me broken.
My God is and always will be greater than you. I’d rather live a life believing that and believing him rather than believe you.
I’m ready to defeat you. I’m ready to win. I’m ready to feel more alive than I ever have before. I’m ready to let you go.
Friends, if any of these words resonate with you, please know you are not alone. You absolutely do have someone you can talk to, even when anxiety tells you that you don’t. You have someone that cares. You have someone that understands.
Please, please contact me and also please visit the Counseling page if you would like access to some available resources.