I’m Aware: How To Cure Anxiety Now
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:6-9
I have been anxious all my life. I remember my squad leader in Young Marines yelling at me, “Do not anticipate my call!” And I often replay my acting coach, Susan Batson, yelling at me, “Don’t Push!” Something has always had me on edge and rushing from one moment to the next without pause. The first time I can recall sitting still, and accepting the moment as is, was the night I labored to birth our stillborn son, Joshua. Theo had fallen into a deep sleep to deal with his pain, and I was up suffering contractions. I had no choice. I had to sit still, endure the pain, and live in my present moment. In my mind, I had lost everything, and I had no future to rush to now.
The opposite of anxiousness is being present. If you are not thinking about the past or the future, you are fully aware of the present moment. This is a very powerful seat to have. All of our power in life resides in the present. Everything we can do to impact our lives, good or bad, happens NOW. But why do we run away from now? Why are we always thinking about the past or worrying about our future? How do we find peace now?
Growing up I was always thinking about tomorrow. I was obsessed with the day I would graduate high school and go to college. I hated sitting still. I hated being alone, unless I was writing, and I hated waiting for anything. I use to be very impatient. I walk fast, I talk fast, I do everything fast. Reflecting on my upbringing. I realize now that my obsession with tomorrow was my defense against feelings of abandonment and neglect.
I had a beautiful childhood. My great-grandmother raised me very well. I wore the best clothes, I ate the best food, I went to the best academic programs public school offered. I had the best of the best, lots of love, joy, and fun. That’s how I perceived my life. I thought about only good things.
But alone in my room at night where I could not offend anyone, I wondered where my mother was. Where was my father? Why did they not care about how I was doing? Was I okay? What did I eat for dinner? What did I wear to school? No one knows, but God and me, the questions I asked about my worthiness alone at night as a child.
Anxiousness, or we could call it hope and vision for my future saved me from a childhood of depression, grief, and heartache. I was like the little orphan Annie always singing “Tomorrow, Tomorrow, I’ll love you, Tomorrow. You are only a day away.”
But what happened to the anxious little girl who developed a habit of constantly thinking about tomorrow? She became paranoid and unable to deal with any present, good or bad. Living for tomorrow was her addiction. Then one day, her future died and she hit rock bottom. Tomorrow could no longer get her high.
Motherhood taught me how to stop being anxious. When we believe we can no longer fix our problems, we either hope or we fall into despair. The moment the doctor said, “No heart beat. I knew there was nothing I could do. I had to trust God.” That night I labored with Joshua, and I kept repeating over and over Jeremiah 29:11 and Romans 8:28. I said “God, you have plans not to harm me, but to keep me and prosper me. You said ALL things work for my good.” That night I began my practice of elevating my thoughts from what the world said to God’s thoughts. My practice has helped me make peace with life and the present moment. Now anytime time I feel uneasy, I immediately reference God’s Word about my situation. If God’s Word could lead me to victory after losing a child, I cannot imagine what HE will do with my every day surrender.
I am now learning to be patient, focused, and enjoy each day. How ironic? The very thing that I lacked growing up, the thing which caused me the most pain and inspired my anxious psychosis, is the very mechanism by which God is healing me. Motherhood forces me to be present and aware of NOW.
Through being a wife, a mother, and a homemaker, I have grown a deeper understanding of God. I relate my unconditional love for my family with how God loves us, humanity. God is so patient with us. HE enjoys us. HE is hands on and intimate with us when we revere HIS dwelling in our atmosphere. HE does not punish us, but corrects us when we are out of HIS will. HE loves us back into perfect alignment with HIM.
When I become anxious and paranoid for no apparent reason, but lingering thoughts from 26 years of brokenness, I breathe and I think about what is good in my life. What is good right now? What am I grateful for? My practice transforms my thinking from seeing things in my own negative light to seeing things through God’s Word.
I still get distracted every day. I still battle old thoughts in my mind. I still have moments of rage, sadness, or confusion. I am still human. The only difference is they are short moments that do not dictate how I choose to be in this world. I am no longer running from my life or the present moment. I do not believe that my peace is in tomorrow or some distant land. I know I can have love, joy, peace, and prosperity right here, right now by choice. I am healed by the Word of God.