6 Things I Wish I Knew About My Relationship With God After My Anxiety Diagnosis
I grew up in a Christian household. For the longest time, I couldn’t understand why there was a disconnect between me and my Creator. I longed for the type of connection and faith my parents and siblings had. Though there was a distance due to the passing of my mother when I was 14 and the grief and anger from that, eventually I found I wanted to rekindle that relationship. What I found was that the invisible wall was still there.
It wasn’t until I was properly diagnosed with social anxiety disorder (SAD) at the beginning of 2014, and began treatment for it, that I finally felt like I was chipping through the wall. I now have the most authentic relationship I’ve ever had with God. The past two years haven’t been the easiest, but they have been the most rewarding.
Here are six things I wish someone would have told me right after my diagnosis about having anxiety and a relationship with God:
1. Going to therapy and taking medication for your disorder does not mean that you don’t have “enough” faith in the Lord and His plan for your life.
This is one I struggled with for a really long time. I felt like going to therapy or taking medication meant I wasn’t praying hard enough or spending enough time in my Bible. Needing to do one or both meant to me I wasn’t fully embracing all He has for me. What I eventually realized is there is no shame in either of these things.
I don’t berate myself for not having enough faith in God to provide air into my lungs when I take my daily asthma medication. So beating myself up when I take my anti-anxiety meds isn’t necessary. As for therapy, I found a Christian-based practice so prayer and the Bible are incorporated into my sessions. God desires to bring healing into your life. Therapy and medication can be amazing tools to help get you there.
2. You do not annoy God with your irrational worries.
I used to believe in prayer for the big stuff in life and all the irrational things I worried about weren’t worth speaking to God about. After all, why would He care about the stupid things my brain decides it needs to worry about, right?
Wrong! I’ve found the more I send up a prayer when those thoughts get to me, the less I have them. For the longest time, I thought when people would say, “Anxiety has no place in God’s presence,” that meant I had to get my anxiety in check before I came before Him. I came to learn what it truly means is when I get in His presence, all anxiety falls away and He gives me peace that surpasses all understanding.
3. I believe he loves you and nothing could ever change that.
I remember the exact moment the light bulb went off and I finally got this. It was during one of the women’s nights events my church holds every few months. My pastor’s wife was speaking and she stated, ”God has never loved you more than He loves you right now, but He’s also never loved you any less.” Another point she made was to “let God, who is love, love you.”
4. He doesn’t see you as a burden.
I believe He created everything. Everything. The moon. The sun. The stars. Oceans and mountains majestic enough to take your breath away. You may be hardwired a little differently from the norm, but I believe He doesn’t see you as less. He sees you as His beloved creation, fearfully and wonderfully made. It’s taken me a long time to come to terms with the fact that throughout all of the lows my anxiety and depression have dragged me through, I believe He has been there every single step, just waiting for me to reach out to Him. I believe He doesn’t see you as something to handle, deal with or tolerate. He loves you on the good days and He loves you on the bad.
5. You can start speaking God’s truth over your anxiety and the lies it tells.
One of the biggest weapons I have against the lies my anxiety often tries to throw at me is being able to combat it with God’s truth. When it tells me the worst case, and often times completely outlandish, scenario is going to happen, I remind it that I live for the One who can overcome anything.
6. You should be able to talk about it.
We aren’t made to do life alone. I am incredibly thankful the people who attend my church and the pastors who lead it have never made me feel like I should be ashamed of having a mental illness. I know this is not the experience for every Christian and my heart breaks for you.
You need to know there is nothing shameful about your disorder. You need to know you should never be afraid to talk about it and it should never be treated as a dirty secret. It doesn’t define you and it doesn’t diminish your ability to let God work through you.
I am involved in two life groups and I am very blessed that they have always been open and loving when I have spoken about struggling with my anxiety. You deserve and I believe God wants you to have people who will love on you and pray for and with you during your rough patches!