There is no end to the amount of things to worry and fret about every day. They just don’t stop. I lie awake at night, knowing full well I really should be sleeping. They crash through my mind, relentless as the waves on a seashore, and I feel powerless to shut them off – to shut my mind off.
The darkness of life in this broken world consumes me.
I worry about the small things like catching the flu from someone out in public.
I worry about the petty things like whether I said something stupid in that conversation yesterday.
I worry about the big things like what we’re going to do when it’s time for RJ to go to school.
I worry about the monumental things like what if someone tries to hurt us or a tornado destroys us or something terrible happens to our child or a gunman takes the life of someone we love or communism becomes the law of our land or one of us gets cancer and dies.
There really is no end – nothing is off limits.
Somehow, some way – my mid-twenties became a breeding ground for anxiety and fear.
I got older and somehow, the world was terrible and dark and horrifying and so broken, and it was going to swallow me and everyone I loved right on up.
This place is so tragic.
And anxiety had its hands clenched tightly around my neck like a rope.
I used to be so happy all the time.
Suddenly I couldn’t remember what it felt like to be at peace. I knew that I had been in that place before, when I was young. But now? I had woken up. I’d awakened to reality.
That peace and happiness I lived in back then? Turns out it wasn’t real, because this place is actually terrible. Life is awful. Living here is heartbreaking. I was just so naive.
Since my “awakening”, anxiety and fear have gripped me every day of my life. It wasn’t sudden – it was slow. I barely noticed it was happening, until the panic attacks started, until I’d lie awake for hours and hours, paralyzed with fear and what-if scenarios.
But yesterday I sat outside in the sun, looking out at the green grass in my yard and the newly budded leaves on the trees, and a different voice spoke to me.
Life is terrible, but it isn’t only terrible.
This world is dark, but it isn’t only dark.
I’d been giving myself over to only one truth – that life was tragic.
I’d denied the other truth – that life is also beautiful.
I’d been living in the darkness of it all, while there was an entirely different place also available.
See, it’s dark and dangerous and scary here, but it’s also warm and safe and beautiful here.
There are a million what-ifs that want to keep me up at night and haunt me every moment of the day with their terrifying projections, but there’s a whole other set of what-ifs that want me to entertain them instead.
What if it’s not as bad as I think? What if we don’t get sick? What if someone blesses us with a chunk of money for no reason? What if RJ thrives? What if we get a promotion? What if people are really nice?
See – we can’t deny either reality, because both of them are real, both of them are true.
Yet, we can choose which one gets the most of our attention. We can choose which one speaks to us every day and whispers to us at night. We can choose which one we let into our hearts. We can choose which one we become close friends with – and honestly, I’m breaking up my friendship with anxiety.
I’m done being close and snuggling up with the dark reality. I’m done listening to the life is terrible talk. I’m done with the conversation I’ve been having with fear. I’m done living in the anxious realm.
I’m coming into the light. I’m snuggling up next to the beautiful reality. Life is joyous and amazing and wonderful and warm and beautiful. It’s not a false reality – all of that is true. I’m going to listen to this reality. I’m going to live in this reality, from this reality. I’m not denying the dark side, but I’m no longer going to be friends with it, and I’m no longer going to be merely acquaintances with the beautiful side.
I’m fed up with fear, not at peace with it.
I’ve had it with anxiety.
So today I’m moving forward to face them head-on and watch them shrivel away into a pathetic nothing with a flip of that light switch.
Fear, do you hear me?
Anxiety, are you listening?
YOU BOTH CAN SUCK IT.
*This post was inspired by John Mark McMillan’s Monsters Talk commentary, which can be found on The Borderland Sessions. JMM, if you ever end up reading this, thank you for saying what you did. It really brought healing to my heart.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Philippians 4:6-8