“This is so stupid! Why am I being so ridiculous. It’s just babysitting! Why am I being such a baby about it?”
And with those words, I was swiftly kicking anxiety and sleeplessness and stomach-knots as far away from myself as possible. “Go away! I don’t want you. Stop it.”
The anxiety attacks began pretty quickly after I had agreed to babysit my friends’ five children (along with my three). But I said I’d do it because I wanted my friends to be able to get away and have some much needed time alone together. Sure I’d babysit a baby and a toddler and all the rest. No big. I’m a mom.
But it was big, in my stomach and my mind and my heart, because my body was reacting in what I perceived to be stupid ways.
Stupid maybe, but unrelenting.
So finally I did the thing I should have done right away; I asked God what was going on.
“Lord, why this constant anxiety over this situation?”
In the quiet of another sleepless night I sat with that question. I pushed away judgement of myself and just listened to my anxeity. And in the quiet, in the gentleness I gave myself, I realized that I wasn’t stupid or crazy or any other demeaning thing I wanted to say to myself.
My anxiety was real for a reason.
My body was experiencing what it used to feel when I had three little ones under five and felt so alone and so overwhelmed. My body remembered that place, and instead of being kind to myself, I was quick to judge myself and push the truth away. Which is so sad, because the truth sets us free.
The truth is that only God knows the deepest places of your heart. Only He knows the why’s and the wounds and the reasons. This is why Psalm 139:23-24 shows us to pray, “Search me, O God…”, not “Let me search myself.” He will reveal the tender truths we need to know and walk through in order to become free. But to see and hear we need to ask Him, listen to Him, and believe Him. He is the truth, and He shows us the truth if we tune our hearts to Him.
He will set us free.
But we have to be willing to say to our pain: Come here. Sit down next to me. What do you have to teach me?
God speaks in our pain, and He will show us what we need to know.
You can’t deal with something you won’t face. You have to acknowledge the thing before you can move through it.
Once I listened, I was able to see the truth of my anxiety. I was able to acknowledge that my body was reminding me, trying to protect me, but I could say back to it, “It’s okay. I’m not alone. I can do this.”
A counselor friend said to me, “Anxiety says, ‘you can’t handle this.’ But the truth is, you can.” With God and the power of His Holy Spirit, we are stronger than we think, because in our weakness, He is the strongest.
The truth, and facing the truth, set me free. I was able to go forth in my babysitting duties reminding myself that I could handle this, because I wasn’t alone. And I did handle it, and it was fine, and I’m fine. I am stronger than I think I am, because of God.
And so are you.
So that thing you’re facing or that pain you’re fearing, make some tea and invite it in. Listen.
The truth will set you free.
Love, Sarah Mae
Related: Don’t Throw the Ball Back (on Setting Healthy Boundaries & Getting Free)Leave a Comment
Bev @ Walking Well With God says
“Anxiety says, ‘You can handle this, but the TRUTH is you can'”…I love this. With God and the Holy Spirit working in us ALL things are possible. Having lived my whole life with OCD and anxiety/panic attacks – I know anxiety well. Sometimes it was my constant companion whispering its lies. Apart from God, the scriptures are right – I can do nothing – but WITH God I can do all things. I used to hate the OCD and the anxiety (in fact I have a love/hate relationship with it), but like how Paul had a thorn in his side that he asked the Lord to remove and the Lord said “No, my grace is sufficient.”, this is the lesson I’m learning…that God’s grace is sufficient and my weakness draws me into a deep reliance and dependence on Him that I might not have otherwise. So, in a weird way, my anxiety has made my walk with the Lord much closer than it would have been otherwise because I realize that without him, and faced with anxiety, I am toast. But, with God, I can do all things. Wonderful post….this touched me in the very deepest places in my soul. Thank you for sharing your trials and victories!
What a precious gift this is. Thank you and God for all He is
Sarah Mae says
Bev, you are such a constant well of encouragement. Thank you! 🙂
Clifford Moore says
Great thoughts. As a therapist I have written about and worked with people’s grief. One of my first clients was an individual who just needed to grieve. She said that everyone kept reminding her that her husband was in Heaven, well-meaning, but not giving her the space to grieve. “Weep with those who weep.” All sorts of emotional and physical problems can occur when we try and avoid or shut down our grief. When my Father died 7 years ago, I experienced first hand what was previously only academic. It was a horrible time but I treasure my grief now, they provide me with moments when I touch my Father’s impact upon my life in a powerful way. I grieve at every milestone that he is not a part of, I don’t fight it but allow myself to feel.
“There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are the messengers of overwhelming grief, of deep contrition, and of unspeakable love.” Washington Irving
Wendy Munsell says
For too long I thought that anxiety defined me. I was shamed by the visible signs that proclaimed my weakness. My most recent bout with it landed me in the hospital for three days while doctors tried to figure out what was causing my symptoms. Jesus taught me the wisdom of facing my pain and acknowledging it by bringing it to Him instead of trying to ignore it. It’s one more step in a lifelong process of learning to face the truth, with Jesus, instead of running from it, to hide.
Michele Morin says
And all the “church ladies” said, “Amen!”
We’ve been told all kinds of things that we should do with our feelings — everything except FEEL them!
Thanks for sharing your journey and especially the way you have allowed your faith to inform your feelings so that you find freedom in the end.
Sarah Mae says
Isn’t that such a funny thing, ignoring the the very things God gives us to show us what’s going on? Yes, we must FEEL them and see them and touch them and listen with our heart and our mind and His Word.
Thank you so very much for sharing this with us. I really needed to hear it!! I have not been dealing well with pain, but your words show me a much better way to deal with it. Even your choice of analogy–having tea with it–speaks to me. Thank you and God bless you, Sarah Mae!
Sarah Mae says
You should probably have some chocolate with that tea. 😉
Amen! I am encouraged by the reminder that God will show us what we need to hear and know to be set free in Him. I have a tendency to over analyze and be overly introspective, but that just makes me confused. I find myself trying to be the Holy Spirit, trying to be in charge of my own conviction of sin, direction in life, and a lot of other things that are not my role,but the Holy Spirit’s role. We can and must trust Him and His strength, not lean on our own understanding! So thankful we can do this by His great power, and we can know that He is a good GOOD Father!
Wow. I am right in the middle of this, right now. I was never really an anxious person until I became an adult, and over the years my anxiety has slowly built, and when i had kids it exploded. I’ve known deep down that there is a reason under there, waiting to be discovered, but having small kids (one being autistic) I haven’t had the time or energy. They’re 4 and 6 now, so I’ve been finally exploring it, and it’s all linked to my dysfunctional childhood. So now, how to deal with it. Thank you Sarah Mae, I’m really looking forward to your book.
Lisa Appelo says
Sarah Mae, this is so profound. To be able to look underneath the anxiety and ask God what He wants to teach us. One of my favorite Tim Keller quotes is “Trials reveal my motivations: am I serving God or do I want God to serve me?” Pain has so much to teach if we will go to God with it. I’ll be sharing this!
Sarah Mae says
Love that quote, thank you Lisa!
Thank-you for sharing your very real emotions, and how you reached to God for help to learn from them.
Have a blessed day,
Pearl Allard says
Sarah Mae, your opening grabbed me! Thank you for writing about a “small” deal that is really a big deal in our lives. Having permission to feel the fear but then do it–whatever the anxiety-provoking activity is–anyway, in God’s strength and with His peace, seems to be a theme lately. Really appreciate this, thank you.
This is so good, and just what I needed to read tonight as I am finally processing through a lot of grief. Thank you ❤
It’s beautiful Sarah. The idea that we should sit down with our pain and have tea . . . get to know it so it doesn’t bully us around. But, rather to let God minister to us through it. Thank you & Amen Sarah.
Yes, I’ve found pain/anxiety/etc./etc. so much more manageable, even (dare I say it) friendlier, when I allow it to take up space, to welcome it in.
I’m a true hunch back…. it happened about 8 years ago. And yes after my spin totally turned & collapsed I wondered if I would ever be able to do anything “normal” again. But my faith grew & as my love for Jesus became stronger & I began depending on his strength, not my own, everything became not only possible but life was brighter than ever before. I’ve learned how to do all kinds of things I never dreamed I could do. I started a Bible Study that is growing & I’ve learned so much over the last few years. I teach scrapbooking & other craft classes to seniors. Things I never dreamed I could or would do. And it’s al because of Jesus. My glorious wonderful savior. I owe it all to Him.
Beth Williams says
I’ve never been an anxious person. Over the last few years I have had plenty of stress and anxiety over jobs & my aging dad. When facing new trials with my dad’s dementia I would cry to God. “How long O Lord?” “What must I learn from this?” I know that God uses trials to teach and draw us closer to Him. Through my trials I found that I am strong than I think and can have patience. Yes. Pain come sit with me and teach me.