The other day I began to share my store. My real story. (If you missed it, read here.) During my weakest moments of anxiety I’m often met with feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness and my least favorite of all, I feel like my joy has been sucked out. For me that’s a big deal, because I’ve always been told I have a contagious smile and an infectious laugh. I’ve even been asked at times if I’m ever unhappy. The truth is, when anxiety strikes, Satan has taken control of my joy, and it’s just… gone. I’m at my lowest of low, and I often feel like there is no way out.
You see, for me, anxiety is almost 100% a spiritual battle where Satan’s main focus is blowing whatever I’m worried about way out of proportion. In the moment, I can see only what I think I’m fighting for – the ridiculous list of things I’m worried about running through my head that don’t matter. But what I’m really fighting for is joy. The joy that Satan steals. Satan will do everything in his power to make me feel completely alone and completely hopeless, when in reality, God is sitting right there; taking Satan on full force to win me back my joy.
When I shared the story of my latest attack, I purposely left most of that spiritual battle out. Because for a long time, I left God out of my anxiety telling myself that I could win the battle without Him. And the truth is… I can’t. I need Him to win. When I add the spiritual battle portion back into my attack, I find joy in the fact that God is with me, and He is using me in ways far bigger than I can imagine.
This attack took quite a few days to brew to its maximum strength. And I know that God was preparing me for so much in the days before the worst occurred. For my daily devotions I’ve begun the annual attempt to read through the entire Bible. Just a day before the worst occurred I was reading in Genesis about Joseph. I reflected on the reading by journaling this:
I love the “story” of Joseph and Gods providence in his life. Every time I reflect on this I’m overwhelmed with the meaning of Gods grace and love. I’m often frustrated with not knowing Gods plan for my life – and Joseph is a great example of that – hated and abused by his brothers, sold as a slave, wrongly accused, sentenced to prison – and yet God used EVERY SINGLE one of those instances to prepare him for a greater purpose. I’m yet again attempting to read through the bible and yesterday’s short devotion to go along with the reading said this “For some of us, the fulfillment of this plan [Gods Plan] might be easy and joyous, requiring only that we live in the grace of God and share His great love with those around us. For others, refinement and preparation will be required. Obstacles must be over come and trials endured, so that in the end we, like Joseph, can emerge mature in our faith and ready to serve confident in our God-given abilities to act in the fulfillment of His plan.” Joseph was a wise man, and he completely put his trust in the One True God. Today’s world would say that Joseph’s brothers deserved to be mistreated in the same way they had treated Joseph – but Joesph knew grace! “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.” (Genesis 50:20) What a beautiful picture of Gods grace for us, as total, complete, and undeserving sinners!
If God is using my anxiety as a means to purify me, mature me, or even use my story to help others, how can I not embrace that. Struggling with anxiety is obviously part of God’s plan for me. So I embrace the fact that He is with me as I struggle.
If you remember from that last post I quoted two verses that I say over and over again to attempt to focus solely on Jesus and win back my joy. A few years ago I got a tattoo on my arm. It simply says “Be Still.” I took this directly from Psalm 46:10 which says “Be still and know that I am God.” This psalm I have claimed as mine; my direct promise from God that I am not alone, and I don’t need to conquer anxiety on my own. “God is [my] refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” (Psalm 46:1).
There were prayer warriors all over the east coast surrendering me to Jesus in prayer that day. And I loved seeing how God brought about an answer. Her name was Melanie. She sat next to me on the plane and held my hand as we landed in Albany. God was holding my hand too, but He knew my need for someone tangible.