Here we are on our last post of the series “Life with Generalized Anxiety.” We’ve talked previously about how GAD affects one socially, physically, mentally, and emotionally. In this post I’ll describe how GAD affects one spiritually.
Let me begin by saying that GAD is a mental illness. It is not a demon attachment, not always a side effect from drugs and alcohol, and it is not something that can be pushed aside as “easily fixed.” GAD is a side effect of the need to be in control because one feels like the only person they can trust to keep them safe are themselves. People with GAD feel worse when someone says “just pray about it” or “you’re just thinking of yourself too much” or get over it and you’ll be fine.” Both Christians and non-Christians can be very assuming or judgmental when it comes to mental illnesses, which is strange because Christians should be the ones to help and support others the most. (1 Pet. 4:8; John 15:12).
I overthink almost everything and each time question why I’m overthinking because there is no need to overthink things. It’s a cycle in my brain that I don’t know will ever stop. I’m constantly wondering if I’m doing the right thing. In the past, this made me doubt God’s love for me because I felt like I couldn’t hear Him or that He wasn’t speaking to me. I often feel like I’m a broken wind-up toy that won’t stop worrying. I’m always asking God for clarification, if I’m good enough, if I’m working hard enough. It’s extremely difficult to know God’s response because I’m always second guessing if what I heard was really Him or not. This really damaged my relationship with God.
I’ve heard that the Bible states, “do not worry” at least 365 times, so “God is telling me not to worry every day.” I pray it was that easy, just choosing not to worry. I cannot put into words how hard that is to do. I try to act normal or like nothing is stressing me out, but when I fail to do so I question God why He made me this way. “Why can’t I be just as positive and calm like everyone else seems to be? Why do I have this? Did You give me GAD or did I do this to myself and it’s up to me to figure it out?” I try to be productive. I try to trust God. I try to find my joy in Christ. My heart is in the right place, but I don’t function like the rest of the world and sometimes people don’t get that.
One of the ways I know I’m not in this alone and that God is helping me heal is who my friends are. I will be struggling silently and they will give me a hug. When I don’t want to be alone we hang out in the same room even if we’re not doing the same things. My friends will go with me on random trips to get ice cream when nothing but Jesus and some frozen sugar can help. When I’ve asked for alone time and need to be alone with my thoughts in order not to have my feelings effect anyone else, they let me have my alone time. When they think I’ve had too much alone time they intervene and make me come out of my shell. They tell me, “We don’t look at you differently because of your diagnosis. You’re still you and we love you.”
The devil knows our weak spots. He knows where to hit me in order for my knees to crumble. One of the exposed spots in my armor for the enemy to strike is my GAD. I throw Scripture at him and declare that I am not what my feelings tell me. But in the end, I’m still in a battle with the devil trying to survive. His sword slices me under my arm with the words “But God made you this way, didn’t He? It’s all His fault.” Then he throws sand in my eyes so I won’t see clearly and am unable to retaliate. I look around me and my vision of other people letting me down is blurry and I doubt that God actually loves me and sees past my anxiety.
But there is hope. My armor isn’t easily damaged. My armor is made from a special kind of Power. So much so, that it throws the devil off. I wear the Helmet of Salvation so I know who I am and Whose I am. I wear a Breastplate of Righteousness with my godly character as my defense. I hold the Shield of Faith that blocks attacks from the enemy. I wear the Belt of Truth that makes God’s Word available at a moments notice. My feet are ready for combat with the shoes of the Gospel of Peace so my safety in the Lord’s Word keeping going and is always with me.
But the greatest piece of armor I have is the Sword of the Spirit. When the enemy goes in for the kill, little does he know that I have the ability to scare him away. God’s Word, the Holy Spirit, and prayer are all in this bad boy. Yielding a sword like that comes with great strength given with grace by the Holy Spirit. When the spears of lies are thrown my way, not only can I block them with my shield of faith, but I can destroy then with one swipe of my sword. God’s Word and prayer are the ultimate weapons I’ve been given.
And you can have this armor, too.
Do I sometimes neglect to put on my armor? Yes. At times I even forget it’s hanging up in my closet. Despite how I sometimes feel, God has not abandoned me because of my worrying, confusion, or doubts. If He had, He wouldn’t have left me with protection.
I know there will be struggles and I know that life is anything but easy, but I have little victories every time I get out of bed in the morning and my feet hit the floor. GAD not only affects people socially, physically, mentally, and emotionally. It affects people spiritually and that is where it can do the most damage. My point is that I have GAD. Plain and simple. But that’s not where my identity comes from.
I hope that this series has shed some light on GAD. I encourage y’all if you know anyone who is struggling with GAD or any time of mental illness to comfort them. They want to know they’re not alone in this. Let God’s love flow through you in the Name of Jesus.