Anxiety churns deep within the body in an unexplainable way. Rising emotional temperatures cause stomachs to bubble – not with excitement, but with angst. Tension travels through various passageways making it hard to breathe. It finds a resting place in the heart and hunkers down for a day, a week, a month, or two. One or both legs often bounce like jackhammers while hands tremble under an overwhelming blanket of dread.
When was the last time you experienced a crippling amount of anxiety? Mine was last August.
The months leading up to August had been tough. Satan had thrown down his gauntlet in February and declared war on my soul as soon as I stepped off the stage at a women’s conference. In the backstage stairwell of that venue, anxiety took my breath away – literally. I had been sick before the event, and I prayed that God would bless me with enough voice to get my message out. It squeaked out, just barely. As I stepped offstage, Satan met me with a heaping helping of anxiety. I couldn’t catch my breath. He whispered lies in my ear that set off a whirlwind of doubt that not only affected my speaking ability, but also contaminated every area of my life. He got nasty!
Then in August, a friend of mine decided to celebrate her birthday by inviting a few friends to meet her for lunch. We’d not been friends long enough for me to realize it was her birthday celebration, but what a great idea! She gave us a card telling us what we mean to her and also included a Kennedy half dollar in the envelope. By the way, she also bought our lunch. 🙂
What turned into a most meaningful day didn’t begin that way for me. My friend and her guests were impressive women of God. They each had amazing hearts that inspired me to lean in closer in hopes some of their goodness would rub off on me. I believe that old axiom; show me your friends, and I’ll show you your future. But, Satan had spent months reminding me of all my mistakes, awkward friendships, shortcomings, and insecurities. Anxiety about that lunch had me tied in so many knots that I almost called in my regrets, but my sweet husband urged me to go.
By the time I arrived at the restaurant, I was a mess. As everyone arrived one at a time, I just kept praying my anxiousness wasn’t showing. As expected, conversation was cheerful and actually relaxing. Everyone else’s ease finally put me at ease. I stopped my fidgeting and turned down Satan’s volume. I came to the table thinking I didn’t belong, but left knowing that these people really loved me. The friendship they showed me that day helped turn my anxiety around. I wasn’t completely cured that day, but my feet began stepping toward a new level of freedom that excited me.
Today, six months later, whenever I feel anxious about meeting new people, or having a hard conversation with someone, or I’m just simply insecure, I put the coin given to me that day in my pocket and take it with me. Just holding it reminds me that God loves the me He created. He loves me so much that He sent friends to love me, inspire me, and walk beside me. It also reminds me that Satan is a liar who only threatens those who threaten him. I like knowing I give Satan fits, don’t you?
Lately, a small cross given to me by my grandfather also accompanies the coin in my pocket. It reminds me that Jesus joins me at every table. His presence calms my mind and emotions so that anxiety no longer threatens me. When I am calm I can return the favor that my friends bestowed on me; I can speak words of encouragement and good cheer.
Trust God. Let go of your anxiety. You were made for so much more!