Sometimes, it's hard to admit that there's a struggle. Even with the staggering statistics on anxiety and depression, there is still a stigma. And sometimes things are the hardest when, from the outside, everything appears particularly shiny and good. But here is your reminder, if you need it, that it's okay to be having a hard time no matter how it looks.
If anyone is wondering why I haven't blogged in a while, this is your answer and hopefully some encouragement as well.
Over the last six months months, amid the surreal excitement and crushing vulnerability of launching a book, the rest of my life was blown into chaos. I moved house when I didn’t want to and had no say over any of the outcome. I stared blankly at my children, wondering how they could make the choices they were making and how I was going to miraculously make it stop. Relationships I spent years thinking I understood were thrown on their heads, and I was left realizing I had it all wrong the whole time. It got to a point where I was so gripped by depression, helplessness, and anxiety, I didn’t feel human anymore.
As an aside, and much to the chagrin of my go-to typewriter repairman, I’m one of those folks who likes to dig in and get stuff done myself. And, as Rick has so politely pointed out, I can make a mess of things doing that. Moreover, there are some things I simply don't have the tools or the parts to fix. And yes, this is also a metaphor.
In the chaos, I wanted to act, to fix, to speak, to do something, to MAKE IT STOP. But it was one of those unique situations where I couldn't do anything at all. Powerless frustration and hopelessness boiled in my mind, spilled over, and made a mess.
Still, every few days, I’d surface from the dark murky waters and whisper, “You got this.” Not to myself, I was too far under to think I had a handle on anything. Instead, I began realizing how desperately and consistently I needed to say it to God. As often as I could manage to steer my thoughts away from the refuse, there it was. "You got this."
I wasn’t saying it because the Most High needed a pep-talk. Rather, I needed it drilled into my mind that, while I couldn't change, help, or fix anything, that didn't mean nobody could.
It sounds easy in theory. I know many people who take the idea of “let go and let God” to a downright unhealthy extreme. But my struggle usually lies on the opposite end of the spectrum, where I know God can work but, in the dark waters of chaos, I wonder if he’s at all interested in reaching in to save me. At this point, I didn't have those doubts as an option. It was either have faith or fall apart. And, since my last meltdown, I've been practicing the art of remembering what God has done and what he might do.
Be anxious for nothing.
Philippians 4:6 has been weaponized against me ever since I got my first nervous tummy ache in the fourth grade. Turns out though, this verse is not a Band-Aid to slap on bullet wounds nor a litmus test for spiritual failure. Rather, in proper context, it’s a promise. And I've been clinging onto it for dear life.
The end of verse five (the beginning of the sentence continued in verse 6) states, The Lord is at hand. Not, “The church ladies are watching.” Not, “You need to try harder.” Just the simple reminder. God is here, beside you, close.
The Lord is at hand, do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
He is near and ready to listen. He cares. So, with thanksgiving—remembering what he has done and his character—let him know what you need.
And this is where my new mantra comes in. I repeat it a hundred times, as I practice breathing techniques and try to remind my body that it’s not being chased by a bear and can stop the adrenaline now, thanks.
“You got this.”
I remind myself that God is not some distant entity, hearing my pleas but can’t be bothered to act.
I recall experiences with my own frightened kiddos. No matter how unreasonable my son’s request may be, when he is anxious, crying out, asking for help, I don’t tell him there’s nothing to be afraid of and walk away. I wrap him in my arms, hold him close, hear him out, and dialogue with his doubts until he is confident in both my ability and my willingness to take care of him.
Side note, it sometimes takes a while. I don’t mind. Neither does God.
So, we land at verse Seven.
And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
I hope you've had that person in your life where the sky could be crumbling and, in their arms, everything is suddenly still. It’s how I want my boys to feel when I hold them. It’s how I feel in the arms of God.
So, I say again tonight, even if it may take all night.
You got this.
You got this. Whatever the outcome, you have proven yourself faithful. Whatever my feelings, you are close. Whatever my powerlessness, you are almighty.
I can’t guarantee publishing success. I can’t email my son into a good first year of kindergarten. I can’t reason relationship with someone who doesn’t want to reconcile. I can't go back to when my surroundings felt trustworthy and okay. But, like a typewriter with a wonky alignment, I can put down the screwdriver and hand over my helplessness to someone who holds all reality. Those are good hands to be in.
It's also important to remember that these struggles we have don't mean we are weak or lacking. Rather, if you're struggling, it means your fighting. That takes levels of strength and courage the people judging you likely can't understand. Be proud of yourself. Keep fighting. He's got this.