Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The Battle No One Talks About

I've been meaning to blog this for a while, but can I be really honest with you? Sometimes, okay often, I feel as though I don't even have enough of a grip on my own anxiety to share how to breakthrough, let alone give advice on it.
But, let me tell you something. 
If there is anything that I have learned through this season of my life, it's that the devil really is a liar, and he really does come to steal, kill, and destroy every good thing in my life-- especially those things that are a threat to him when it comes to building God's kingdom. 

For years I have slowly built an anxiety in my mind, but it never festered into anything until this last year. One day I woke up, and I let my anxiety spiral out of control, and have been battling it ever since.
My stomach would ache, I would lose sleep, I would throw up, and I would have a constant knot of anxiety inside. The devil was attacking my future marriage, my career dreams, and clouded my thoughts to the point I felt I wasn't good enough for anything or anyone. 
I used to blame it on myself thinking I was going mentally insane, I used to blame it on my long-distance relationship, and recently I've been blaming it on the fact that my past, my present, and even my future are not perfect.
Silly, right?
You would be surprised to hear how many others blame their anxiety on themselves, but the only thing I can recognize as being the cause (and you should too after this blog) is satan himself trying to press you down.
 The worst part about it all was that I believed I was a (self diagnosed) mentally crazy person and NO ONE else was going through what I was going through. 
I know people hate list blogs, but I love them, and it's my blog, so here we go. 

Here are 4 things that I believe are crucial for you to know in order to overcome your anxiety.

1. Be honest with your emotions.

I recently heard a sermon about how humans (myself included) are so incredibly scared to be transparent, open, and honest with other people. The pastor used a perfect example of how people go to movies to feel something, yet they are choking back tears because crying makes them feel as if they are over emotional or weak. It just doesn't make sense!
Here's the thing. Humans are emotional beings.
Some may not be as emotional as others, and that's okay.
For example, my fiancé is the least emotional person I've ever met, and I am full of emotion.
Dating him, sometimes I would suppress my emotions because I didn't want to come off as the overly emotional girlfriend or the crazy girl, but guess what? All that did to me was hurt myself and catapult me into anxiety and emotional torment.
Hiding your emotions isn't healthy.
Not once in the Bible do you see a verse about how Jesus choked back his tears or suppressed his anger.
No. In fact it was the opposite- Jesus wept (John 11:35), He grieved (John 11:33), and Jesus even got angry (John 2:15-16).
Jesus was human just like us.
He was emotional, and that was normal.
Like I said, my fiancé isn't very emotional, however, when something does make him angry or need to cry, he doesn't hide them or pretend he's fine.
He feels. Just as Jesus did.
I think seeing the examples of Jesus and my fiancé really opened my eyes to how it's completely normal to feel your emotions.
I'll say it again- to different, unique degrees, we are emotional beings.

My first bit of advice would be this:
Simply, be honest with your emotions.
Don't be afraid to feel something.

2. The devil wants to isolate you.

Many more people battle with anxiety and depression than you would think. Heck, I will tell you, I am  outgoing, fun-loving, and bubbly, but sometimes I would literally be dying inside with anxiety and sadness, and no one could tell. 
That's what I wanted-- or so I thought. 
The devil can trick you so easily.
He will do anything to get you alone, scared, and weak.
If you are feeling the weight of anxiety, call out!
Call out to those who love you and those you can trust.
Tell them how you are feeling, and try to get to the root of your anxiety.
This leads me to my next piece of advice

3. Trust the process

For me, my anxiety came from all different angles, but the root of my problem was that I didn't trust in Jesus, nor did I look to him in every aspect of my life.
For example, I would often give him areas of my life, not my whole life. The areas I wanted to control, the things I wanted to keep hidden or my reputation, were the areas I didn't let God have.
One day, I remember journaling for God to take control of every area of my life- and poof! My anxiety was gone! .....just kidding. It was almost the opposite.
The devil hated that I asked God to take control, and I've never felt so tormented by him in my life.
It was a struggle. It was a process.
I had to deal with things in my past, get counseling, and ask for prayer from my fiancé and pastors.
THEN, I had to believe God was doing something greater than myself inside of me.
One of my best friends told me one day after talking to him about some of my fears, he said,
"You know, sometimes you just have to trust the process."
That resonated with me.
But that was hard.
That was challenging.
I had a choice to stay isolated, or share my deepest wounds and expose my whole self.
Choosing to un-isolate myself and share my fears, anxieties, and be honest with where I was at emotionally was the best decision I could have made.
It will be for you too, but you have to trust the process- for me, it took a long hard month that I am just now coming out of. It may take a longer or shorter time for you, but you have to keep your eyes on Jesus, and trust the process.

My final piece of advice is this,

4. Train your brain.

In the process of getting over anxiety and battling my thoughts, I picked up a life-changing book that I would recommend to anyone in this position.
If you feel stuck and struggling even after being honest and open with others about your feelings and emotions, pick up this book.
Battlefield Of The Mind

This book has opened my mind and heart to experiencing victory over sadness, anxiety, and all around negative thoughts.
Grab a highlighter and a pen, and mark up and write down everything that helps you and speaks to you.
I can tell you this has helped me understand why I feel the way I do, and it constantly reminds me of the truths I need to hear.
Get this book!

No matter what you are going through, have gone through, or what you need to deal with, know that you are NOT alone and you are NOT the only one who is going through your situation.
 In fact, the Bible clearly states that you aren't the only one battling or suffering.
1 Peter 5: 7-10 says this:

7: Casting all your anxieties on Him, because He cares for you

8: Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.

9: Resist him [the devil], firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood [other people/other Christians] throughout the world.

10: And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will Himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.

If you ever need anything or help battling what you're going through, I pray that you wouldn't be fearful to share your thoughts or fears with people you trust. If you need someone to pray with you, talk you through this season of your life, or to just listen, feel free to contact me and I would love to be that person for you.