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I could sense it’s arrival before it even pounced – anxiety. I knew it, even as I felt overwhelmed by it, the wave that was to come. Because I’ve been here before.

Do you know that feeling? You’re just out and about, minding you own business, when some thing or some one or some place will trigger a flash flood of emotion, often fear, alarm or adrenaline — and in the moment you feel completely incapable of stopping them.

This used to happen to me. A lot. It got to the point where I was living in fear more often than I was rising above it. At first it seemed like little things would just cause a sort of restlessness, or persistent concern, that I couldn’t shake. But, over time, these patterns of thinking and reacting to things that were or even things that hadn’t even happened yet, were deeply ingrained in my life. Starting to seriously affect decisions I was making. Stealing the joy and peace I believed I could enjoy through Jesus.

I knew I didn’t want to live this way forever.

Studying the nature of anxiety sort of became a project for me. I happened to be taking college courses at the time, so I actually took a few psychology classes. I read a lot of books. I met with a counsellor regularly {the LORD provided a wonderfully gifted, insightful, grounded woman, who had a passion for Jesus, for me during this time – she is one of my heroes!} I deeply desired to know what was going on with me {what felt so wrong with me}. I also longed to know if there was any freedom from it.

Good news is — there is!

Tough news is — it often requires a fair bit of work, a lot of learning, a discovery process of who you are and how God has intricately fashioned you. It stretches you to explore your triggers, what created them in the first place and what new story you want to write.

This means that change does not usually happen overnight {unless, by the LORD’s mercy He graciously sets you free in that way}. It also means that change doesn’t happen all by itself. You may spend a lifetime waiting for things to “just get better,” or for the next crisis to settle, or live in the shadowlands of “…. if only….”

No. The rub is it often requires an investment of time and energy. But. The amazing thing is…. it is so worth it! It may take time to untangle the knot of emotions and experiences, mingled with expectations, but the freedom is worth it!

It is a wonderfully freeing thing to live on the other side of anxiety. Every day, every moment, every second that I don’t linger in the shadowlands of anxiety, I say a prayer of thanksgiving. The LORD has not only redeemed me from my sin, but He is setting me free every single day!

Fact is, there’s a lot in this world of ours that isn’t the way it should be, the way it will be in heaven. For now, we encounter struggles of all sorts — and that, in part, is what will make heaven all the more beautiful. The amazing thing is that we don’t have to live in bondage to that.

But how do I get there from here? That is a very good question. Each situation is so precious, so unique, that the journey is not easily defined.

For myself, exploring my thought and feeling patterns through journaling, confiding in a safe person, creating a regular time of quiet and connecting with God, and coming up with new responses to old problems has been a great place to start. There have been a lot of setbacks along the way, and I have often grown discouraged when I’ve had to work through anxiety again… and again… and again. But, each time you work it through, you learn a little more, you value life a little more, you discover joy a little more.

You love a little more.

You live a little more.

Adaption mine

Adaptation mine