anxiety - a heart issue

As many of you know, I am in seminary getting my masters in Biblical Counseling. The Lord has been so so kind to affirm my being here over and over. I am loving every little thing I am learning.

What has been challenging, though, is balancing the workload with a husband, a nanny job, and something as simple as rest or exercise. The Lord has wired me to be pretty efficient with my time, so I am incredibly grateful for that. But my circumstances became the setting that allowed what was in my heart to be revealed.... anxiety.

One of my friends told me early in the semester that a pastor had said something once that stuck with him:  "Anxiety is practical atheism." My initial reaction was, "WOW! That is so extreme, so intense. No way is that me. I would never fall into that category."

As the semester went on, the workload increased. The thought of a couple of 12-15 page papers freaked me out. I struggled to find time to actually work on all of my assignments. I forced myself to stay up past my bedtime [for those of you who know me well know how shocking this is!]. I grew more and more anxious. My thoughts never stopped. I would cling to scripture, reciting it all day long, and battle the anxiety constantly with prayer. I would voice this anxiety to others. I found the most common responses to be:  "You just gotta do it." or "It'll get done. It will all work out." These answers only served to frustrate me and make me more anxious, and I couldn't really figure out why.

After about two weeks filled with anxiety, restlessness, exhaustion, thoughts that wouldn't stop, tears that kept coming, the Lord gently led me into a place of brokenness in His Word. I finally took a deeper look into the roots of my anxiety instead of just asking Him to fix the symptoms - i.e., "help me find time, fix my thoughts on you, give me energy and focus, keep me from believing lies." I wanted to know why it wasn't going away. As I did this in the Lord's presence, the ugliness of my sin began to overwhelm me and make me feel sick. I confessed to struggling with fundamental atheism. Honestly, my flesh wants to give a disclaimer here so that you don't freak out, but the Spirit is keeping me from doing so. We must stop making our sin pretty and acceptable and not so bad. The fact is that when I grow anxious, I am believing either that God does not exist or if He does exist, that He is not good, not in control, not knowing and doing what's best for me, not enough.

This is why those responses frustrated me. They weren't enough. The responses didn't penetrate my heart. They [the responses] didn't seek to know me - know why I was so anxious. They didn't calm my distressed thoughts or restlessness. They only served to fix the situation...not my heart. 

It was in that moment of complete brokenness, complete acknowledgement of the offensiveness of my anxiety toward God, complete vulnerability that God used His Word [Psalm 100] to speak to me:

"Know ye that the LORD He is God: it is He that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are His people, and the sheep of His pasture." 

I functionally wanted to be god of my life. I wanted to depend on myself to be able to get my work done, get A's, be a great wife, a great nanny and a great friend. I wanted to control my life. My Lord reminded me that HE is God. He paid for my sin, so I must not belittle His crucifixion by refusing to call my anxiety what it is: sin. I am His. I am a sheep! A helpless, needy, dependent, slow, ignorant sheep. This life is not about me. It is about the Shepherd. The good Shepherd. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me besides still waters. 

He restores my soul. 

And He has. Seriously, a miracle has happened in my heart. He has healed me. I truly have not struggled with anxiety in the past two weeks since this time with my Lord. Not to say I haven't been tempted, but because my Lord has given me SUCH a vivid understanding of this truth, my heart does not want to find itself wrapped up in anxiety anymore. 

I pray that the Lord gives you a clear picture of your sin and what He has done and is doing for you that you might be freed, healed, and restored. He does not treat us as our sins deserve. He gave His life to be able to embrace us. He gave His life that we might be free.