“Imagine your life, wholly untouched by angst. What if faith, not fear, was your default reaction to threats? If you could hover a fear magnet over your heart and extract every last shaving of dread, insecurity, or doubt, what would remain? Envision a day, just one day, where you could trust more and fear less.
“Can you imagine your life without fear?”
For many years, my answer to this questions has been, “no”.
If there were an Olympic sport for worrying, I would be a Gold Medalist… just ask my family. “Oh my gosh Mom, if I don’t check in with you within 5 minutes of when I’m supposed to, you immediately think there’s been an accident.” “Honey, just go to sleep. It’s going to be fine. You worry all the time.”
In fact, last spring was really tough. I was taking some prescription medicine to help me sleep at night and come to find out, one of the side effects was: anxiety. I was having chest pains and my heart was thumping out of my chest. Should I go to the ER?
(Having had these same symptoms a few years ago – and now realizing I was on Ambien then, too –I did go to the hospital and they said I was having an anxiety attack.) So I was pretty confident that these symptoms were history repeating itself. But it was still scary.
I prayed a lot. “Please Lord, take these feelings and symptoms away. My head knows you’re in control of all things, but my body is feeling otherwise!”
After I stopped taking the medication, although I didn’t get much sleep, the anxiety decreased dramatically.
Still, the worrying plagues me.
Just for the sake of brevity, I’m going to cut to the chase and tell you two things that have helped me.
First, my friend Mike Hyatt wrote an excellent blogpost called Worry and Imagination: Two Sides of the Same Coin?
After reading it, I began to be able to not get sucked into the anxiety provoking image that was in my head, but step back from it a bit and look at it as an “imaginative scene”. Then I could be more objective about it and evaluate the likelihood of its occurrence.
Then, I just finished Max Lucado’s new book, Fearless.
Now, I was hoping that Max would just lay out the simple formula on how “not to be anxious for anything” and I would be “cured”.
But actually what he gave me was much more valuable.
He took me to a place, where I could wrestle honestly with my core questions… if God loves me, and He loves the world, why do bad things still happen? And do I really trust God with my life and the lives of those I love? Is there really a plan where “all things will work together for good?”
Yes, I knew there wasn’t a simple formula to make it all better. But, particularly in the discussion guide, Max gave me tools to make my worries “concrete.” He helped me focus on the One who says to the wind, rain and thunder, “Peace. Be still.” and all is quiet.
Does it mean that bad things won’t happen? Of course not.
But it does mean that I can trust the God of the universe with my life, my worries and my imagination.