Picture yourself, standing at a train station. It’s crowded, loud, busy, and yet it’s a lonely place. Although many are surrounding you, loneliness still encapsulates you. The train stops and it looks familiar. Although you have taken this train too many times, and dread the course, you still get on, because it’s familiar territory. On the train you go, taking your same old seat, next to the same old people. One’s name is Fear, the other Worry. Across the aisle from you is Doubt, and Doubt’s friend Defeat. You lift your chin to see who is in front of you, and once again Anxiety is dressed in the brightest, most deafening of attire. Depression sits next to him, sulking in the shadows. You turn and look out the window, ready for the trip. Knowing it leads into a darkening spiral that seems to never end. During your trip, your fellow passengers ask you the same questions, “How can you go on living like this,” “Who do you think you are,” and the all covering question, “What if…..”.
Fear asks you, “What if you die from this? What if you will never be free of this trip?” He looks at Worry who asks, “What if you cannot afford your bills when you get off? I have heard you aren’t quite making enough these days. Not to mention, what if you never lose the baby weight? Surely you are worried if your husband will still find you attractive?” Doubt walks over, interested in the conversation, and asks, “Yeah, what if God never answers your prayer for healing, and what if God does not even hear your prayers? Surely if He heard your prayers you would be off of this ride. What if God does not even love you?” You take a deep breath, ready because Anxiety and Depression walk up. Anxiety says, “What if you always take this trip? What if you never get off this ride? What if you never achieve anything in life?” And Depression adds in, “What if life is not worth the hassle? What if you never find hope for joy again? What if… what if… what if…. “
This ride seems to take a lifetime, and your reserves are emptying. Exhaustion, weakness, loneliness, isolation, hopelessness, darkness. You feel as though there is no end in sight, yet at the same time the end is all you hope for. I have been in that place. I have taken that train ride way too many times. The train stops, and relieved, you get off, hoping to be delivered from the heavy presence of Fear, Worry, Doubt, Anxiety, and Depression. You take a step off the train watching your feet so that you do not stumble and look up. It is the same station you left from. Busy, crowded, lonely. The train leaves and you walk around seeing steps ahead that you aren’t sure where they lead. Behind you arrives the next train, that takes the same route, to the same destination. Will you get on again?
Above is an excerpt from a book I am writing. You see fear and anxiety controlled my life for a very long time. I had automatic returns to fear. When something happened, fear was my companion. When there was unknown, anxiety was my answer. I was so smothered with the never-ending cycle. Until I became free.
You see I read all kinds of stories about people dealing with fear and anxiety. And my heart breaks because there never seems to be any hope present in them. When I was going through it, I couldn’t find anyone to tell me, “I made it through.” And that is what I craved!
I promised that when I made it through, I would tell the world so that they could have hope! It was a slow process, but God freed me from fear and anxiety. It took everyday renewal of my mind; every day taking captive every single thought that came against the knowledge of Christ. Every day making sure I didn’t let a single negative thought go through my mind without telling it to go away and answering it with the truth.
It was a lot of hard work. I wish there had been an easy way out. But it took understanding the roots of my fears, the fruits of my fears, and the answer to my fears. There are 3 things I would tell you to do today if you want to begin freedom towards peace.
1. Understand the Roots
Fear and anxiety are not overnight processes, they are thought patterns and behaviors that take years to form! So it won’t be an overnight process to be free from that way of thinking either. Anxiety is not a character trait; it is a thought process.
So first you have to understand what it is that is causing you anxiety. At first I believed there wasn’t a clear reason, I just felt anxious. But as I continuously listened to triggering thoughts I realized my root of fear was a wrong view of God; I was so afraid to fail Him and that He would punish me if I messed up, that I was afraid to take any steps in life. It wasn’t until I understood this root, that I was able to start my healing process.
2. Understand the Fruits
Roots always grow fruit. Anxiety, depression, and fear are all fruits of something. Whether it’s wrong thinking, believing, trauma, you name it, there is something that has led to your mind believing that anxiety, fear, and depression are it’s answer.
I was in my undergraduate studies, studying abnormal psychology at the height of my anxiety. I was so terrified I was mentally unstable; that because I was dealing with anxiety I was somehow a bad Christian and something was wrong with me. I thought I was broken.
I was not broken but my thinking was broken. Joyce Meyer calls it “Stinking Thinking”. Our brains filter our experiences; what we think, we do and feel. Understanding that my anxiety was a fruit of wrong thinking helped me to know how to fix it.
3. Know the Truth, and You Can be Free
John 8:31-32 says, “If you abide in my Word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” Even though I have my degree in psychology and counseling, I actually didn’t go to one counseling session during this time. Not that it is wrong to, it just wasn’t on my path to freedom.
I truly became free through the Word of God. Even when physically looking at the Word gave me fear and anxiety, I still read it. Because I knew that it held Truth and that Truth was my answer.
The day it all clicked was the day I read 1 John 4:18: “There is no fear in love [dread does not exist]. But perfect (complete, full-grown) love drives out fear, because fear involves [the expectation of divine] punishment, so the one who is afraid [of God’s judgement] is not perfected in love [has not grown into a sufficient understanding of God’s love].”
You see, my fear came from expecting punishment from God and not being perfected in His love. When I realized how much He loved me, that He had good plans for me and not plans of destruction, I realized there was nothing to fear. Sounds real easy right? I still battled anxiety after initially reading this scripture, but it gave me my answer. I sought God’s love and Truth, and renewed my mind daily.
If What if showed up with a negative present, I answered it with a positive what if. What if you never get married, it said. I answered with, What if my husband is waiting on me tomorrow. What if you are never free of anxiety? What if my God delivers me and uses my story to heal others!
Your mind is a battlefield so don’t allow it to flippantly think and feel whatever without realizing that it is going to affect you.
So I hope that this testimony brings you hope. That it lets you know freedom is available to you!