Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Stephany Allen

When I was asked to write on here, I thought of a lot of things I could write about, but I figured I would write about the thing that is most recent in my life.

Since I was very young, I have struggled with anxiety. It has come and gone in different phases. At some points in my life, it sits on the back burner, there every now but not overwhelming, not something that consumes me. Then, sometimes it’s so obvious in my life that I am ridden with anxiety, it affects all aspects of my life, my relationships, my sleep, everything.

About 4 years ago, something significant occurred and to say that anxiety was overwhelming me would be an understatement. After a lot of thought and prayer I decided to get on anxiety medication. It helped a lot. I had taken it pretty consistently, trying every now and then to wean off of it. I would get off for a couple of weeks and end up back on it, realizing it was necessary for me.

Well last year when my husband and I decided we wanted to have a baby, I knew that taking the anxiety medicine wouldn’t be an option for me. So, I got off of the medication and took the plunge. I have always known that my anxiety was a battle of spiritual warfare. So, I decided I would just pray through it, cling to the Lord and hope for the best. Things were great for a while. My anxiety was on the back burner and I was handling everything well. About three months ago, it slowly became stronger. I could easily say that it felt very much out of my control.

The crazy thing about anxiety is that it can be present even during the best circumstances of life. I have
literally never been happier in all of my life. I am living the dream that I have always prayed and hoped
for. My husband, Samuel, has the job he had been wanting, I get to stay at home to take care of him, our home and just be a wife. And to top it off, we are welcoming our first baby so soon! Anyone that knows me knows that since I was very young, the thing I’ve wanted more than anything is to be a mom. So to say that life is good would also be an understatement, I really have nothing to complain about. And yet, somehow among all of this, anxiety had its grip on me.

Now let me say this. It is really hard to explain what anxiety is like to someone who has never
experienced it. Depression and anxiety are very different, though they are often coupled together
because a lot of people suffer from both, not just one or the other. I however, haven’t ever really
struggled with depression. I say this to say that, it is possible to be very happy, not the least bit sad, and
still be very anxious.

Anxiety can stem from a lot of different things. Some people get social anxiety, some people get anxious about certain situations, and some people have anxiety that stem from fears of the unknown.
For me personally, my anxiety has always been fear of something horrible happening to me or to
someone I care deeply for. When I was a child it was my mom, now that I am married it is my husband
and even my unborn child. Fear that something or someone will take them away from me and I will
be cut short of my time with them. My husband has tried many times to understand, he is always very
sweet and sensitive to the situation. But, he always tells me that I just need to “not think like that”.
I’ve told him several times, it’s not a rational fear it’s irrational. But as irrational as it is, it very real, for
me. I wish so much that I could just NOT think thoughts like this. I wish I had the power to squash every thought and every fear that comes to mind. But I don’t.

About a month ago, my doctor wanted to put me back on medication for anxiety. Samuel had
mentioned that he had never seen my anxiety “this bad” and was very concerned for me and for our
child. I prayed and prayed for a few days asking the Lord to show me what to do. I knew that medication wasn’t the answer, I felt like taking medicine that could harm my baby was selfish and definitely not the answer. At the same time, I knew I couldn’t keep going on living so anxious, being paralyzed by fear of the unknown. One morning my sister in law, Gretchen, said she had been praying for me, and that when she did God kept revealing the word “fast” to her. She encouraged me to fast. Realizing quickly that fasting food wasn’t an option for me, being pregnant, I asked the Lord what he wanted me to fast. I immediately told God, I’m not going to fast food and I’m not going to fast TV. TV is what gets me through the day when Samuel’s not here, the noise helps stifle the fear in my mind and noise that comes with the quietness of an empty house.Well, God said, "you’re wrong. I do want you to fast from TV. I want you to turn it off, and trust me. Every time you get scared that something bad is about to happen, every time the enemy plants an evil thought in your mind, I want you to read the Word and pray."

At this point in life, I wasn’t praying much about my anxiety, because it almost felt like a lost cause, I had kind of just let it take over. But, I obeyed. Well, about 45 seconds after I turned off the television, I was scared. So, I opened the bible to Psalm 91. A passage I had read many many times before. When I got to this part I got very emotional:

V11 “For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone. You will tread on the lion and the
cobra; you will trample the great lion and serpent. “Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue
him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call on me, and I will answer him. V16
With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.”

As I was reading this, a peace came over me that I had not felt in a very long time. My muscles loosened, my heart settled, my mind felt at peace and I felt safe. It was such a reminder to me that even when I struggle with something as constant as anxiety the Lord is ALWAYS there to rescue me, help me and lift me up. I love the part that says “He will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways”.

I wish that I could say I am completely free from all anxiety and it has no place in my life what so ever.
Well I can’t do that, but I can say this. That moment was a turning point for me. I am moving forward
knowing that the Lord is with me and he will protect me and the people that I love. The Lord’s plans are not to harm me, but to give me a future and a hope. And even though I personally do not have the power to squash every thought and every fear that comes to mind, God does. I need
Him. I think he has let me walk through this little valley, to realize how much I need him. There are
always going to be moments of the unknown in my life where I have to trust the Lord. Moments when I don’t have the answers and I can’t see the future, so I literally have no other choice than to trust Him.
My cling to verse is:

“For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”

2 Corinthians 10:3-5

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