What Anxiety Is
Day 1 of Calm My Anxious Heart, Lord
“Save me, O God! For the waters have come up to my neck. I sink in deep mire, where there is no foothold; I have come into deep waters, and the flood sweeps over me. I am weary with my crying out; my throat is parched. My eyes grow dim with waiting for my God.” (Psalm 69:1-3, ESV)
“But as for me, my prayer is to you, O Lord. At an acceptable time, O God, in the abundance of your steadfast love answer me in your saving faithfulness. Deliver me from sinking in the mire; let me be delivered from my enemies and from the deep waters.” (Psalm 69:13-14)
“When the humble see it they will be glad; you who seek God, let your hearts revive. For the Lord hears the needy and does not despise his own people who are prisoners.” (Psalm 69:32-33)
Anxiety is a lie. Anxiety is feeling like you’re sinking to the depths of the sea when your feet are planted firmly on the ground. Anxiety is feeling like the world is crumbling around you as you lie silently in bed. Anxiety is feeling a sense of overwhelming fear and panic take over your body when you’re perfectly safe. Anxiety is a lie, but it is very real. It has become increasingly common, and yet many still do not understand it. The common misconception among believers (and even non-believers) is that anxiety and worry are the same thing. Just as a square is a rectangle, but a rectangle is not a square, so anxiety is worry, but worry is not anxiety—at least, not the anxiety I will be tackling in this study. I wish the English language had more than one word for anxiety so that I could pick the word that more clearly distinguishes an anxiety disorder from worry. But I will try my best to do that for you with the language I know.
Anxiety is anatomical. I was first diagnosed with an anxiety disorder at age 21. I hit a breaking point in which I found myself physically, mentally, and emotionally sick. My doctor recommended a book called The Anxiety Cure by Dr. Archibald D. Hart, which I highly recommend to anyone searching for information on anxiety. I learned that anxiety is a malfunction of the brain, an imbalance of chemicals. Our bodies function properly when the neurotransmitters (chemicals) are sending the correct messages to our brain. When you suffer from an anxiety disorder, your brain has a chemical imbalance between what we will call “happy messengers” (neurotransmitters) and “sad messengers.” This imbalance can be caused by many things, such as illness, genetics, and stress. Simply understanding the chemical process that was occurring in my brain gave me some peace, which is why I now share it with you. I am a firm believer that the more you understand something the less powerful the fear of it becomes. That being said, let me offer you comfort in the fact that you are not alone! I struggle with anxiety, and over 19% of adults in America struggle with some form of an anxiety disorder, too.
Anxiety is hard. Now that we have a clearer view of it, let me affirm you in saying that anxiety is so hard. I wouldn’t wish an anxiety disorder upon my worst enemy. The words of King David in Psalm 69 make very clear how truly somber it can be. If you struggle with anxiety, I know you can empathize with the pain he is expressing here. The truth is that confronting your anxiety is a difficult task, but with God all things are possible. So, my first piece of advice to you is to be like David and lay it all out on the table before God. Speak truthfully about your worries and your struggles and give them over to Him daily. The Lord hears your cries! Seek Him and you will find the truths that drown out the lies anxiety feeds you.
Truth. That is the most important thing in your journey to finding peace for your anxious heart. I hope you’ll join me on a search for truth this week.