What I Need to Hear Instead of 'Give It to God' as an Anxious Christian
I remember being a kid and being scared to go to the water park. “I just feel like something bad is going to happen,” I would say. I thought I might break my arm or lose my mom or step on a bee or be kidnapped or misplace my towel or be locked in the park or fall and scrape my knee while my mom was lost and then I might die.
When I was 10, my dad took me to an amusement park. I refused to ride even one ride. It wasn’t worth the risk as all the possibilities of what could happen ran through my mind.
My parents took me to the doctor in sixth grade because I felt like I couldn’t get a deep breath. I thought I maybe had asthma like the other kids. “It’s stress,” the doctor said.
I had a reoccurring vision when my anxiety sprung up — I was a tiny ant wandering, looking up at the giant foot of a rhino that hovered me. No matter where I moved, there was no escape.
Oftentimes this feeling still happens. I’m driving by admiring houses when all of a sudden there it is — I’m terrified of having children because what if they run in the street and what if they get hit by a car or don’t learn how to look both ways and I’m a terrible mother.
When I share my anxieties as a Christian, I am often met with, “give God your worries.” These intrusive thoughts aren’t just something I can hand over. My brain doesn’t work like yours and if I could not worry, I wouldn’t. Although these things may seem trivial, they are intrusive. The best way I can describe an anxiety attack is all of the voices in your head, every thought and word you think, is being screamed at you. You feel confused and scared and embarrassed because you wish you didn’t think like you did. It feels like your own brain is fighting a war against you, and it’s winning.
When someone with anxiety shares with you, remember it was probably really hard for them to share their thoughts with you. For me much of the time, I know my thoughts are irrational and I am embarrassed of them. And although irrational and unrealistic at times, this is my reality. The guilt of consumes me in the vicious cycle of anxiety.
Maybe what you could do is to remind me of God’s love and care for me and how he has provided for me in the past instead of insisting that I simply stop, because it isn’t that simple. And please remember that if we could not worry, we would love that too. Remind me God is near to me in my worries and loves me with all that I am, anxiety disorder included.
Unsplash photo via Christian Ferrer