I had a conversation with a friend the other day who was experiencing anxiety more in this season than any other. Hesitantly, this friend shared that they were struggling to understand what this fear said about their faith. I have worked to overcome anxiety for most of my life, and while each person who faces anxiety has their own unique experience, there is one commonality that is widely associated with this mental health disorder among Christians. Shame.
Because we are ashamed of what the fear we feel says about our faith, we often stay silent about what we face. Rather than shout, “Help! I need help over here! Something’s not right. I need my people to surround me!” we wander through the dark forest of fear alone, unaware that there are so many other Christians experiencing the same emotions.
The forest of fear can be one of the loneliest places for a Christian because only those who have made it out want to admit they are familiar with the woods of worry. We hear things like, “Oh, I used to have anxiety.” “I went through a season of anxiety.” “I know someone who faced anxiety, and then the Lord healed him.” While those testimonies are tremendously life giving and it helps to know there are others who have made it to the other side, what about a community for those who are still walking through the dark? Why do we feel so much shame in admitting we haven’t made it out of this place yet?
I believe Christians especially struggle to admit when they are experiencing anxiety because for so long the church has spoken from the position that anxiety is primarily a spiritual thought battle. The truth is, anxiety isn’t just a spiritual attack. It can stem from emotional trauma. Or it could be some form of physical brokenness where a process in your body doesn’t work the way it was designed to. There’s so much more to anxiety than many of us realize, and we must gain a fuller understanding of what we are dealing with if we are going to find hope and healing.
Those who struggle with anxiety have a problem, but they are not the problem. They need Jesus to heal them, but they need to know that there isn’t something broken with their faith as they journey toward wholeness. In Scripture, Jesus healed multiple blind men. In one instance, He touched the blind men and they received their sight. In another instance, he made mud, put it on the man’s eyes and told him to go wash in a certain pool. As the man obediently did as the Lord directed, he received his sight. Many of us who are struggling with anxiety in this season need to remember we are each on personalized pathways to peace.
Jesus is always the answer, but He uses multiple methods to bring about our wholeness. For some, healing might come with just a touch. For others, He might use doctors and therapists and counselors and pastors and others who will be instrumental in our healing process. The good news is Jesus still heals today, and He doesn’t fault us for the healing we require. There’s hope in the Holy Spirit, who doesn’t leave us. There’s healing available as we acknowledge the many ways to become whole. And there’s a host of other Christians all holding up their lights, all showing that they aren’t afraid of being afraid anymore, all making this dark forest a lot less scary, all on our walk toward Peace.
Say this with me: The Lord doesn't fault me for the anxiety I face. He wants to free me. Therefore, I won’t shame myself for needing His help!
Copyright © 2020 Becky Thompson, used with permission. In PEACE: Hope and Healing for the Anxious Momma’s Heart (September 8, 2020 WaterBrook), Thompson offers spiritual, mental, emotional, physical, and practical steps to lead readers to find hope and healing.
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