Hello, my name is Carrie. I’m a mother of 4 crazy kids between the ages of 7 and 15. I’m also married to a wonderful man who has battled a stroke, thyroid cancer, and now stage 3 colorectal cancer, in just the last two years. The last couple years have been very stressful to be sure. God has been with me each step of each day. The times I want to fall apart and throw a huge temper tantrum, God’s overwhelming peace floods through me.
I never would have been able to get through these difficult times without God’s precious promise of peace. And I never would have claimed God’s promise of peace without the journey through anxiety He brought me through several years ago. I want to share my story with you, because I want you to know that I understand what you may be going through.
One beautiful spring morning I woke up feeling as though I had the stomach flu. Adrenaline rushes knocked me off my feet. My heart was palpitating, and I thought I was going to vomit. I felt better in bed, so I went back to bed. My husband stayed home to help with our kids getting to school and to take care of the baby. For several days I struggled. I would get up each day, try to eat, then go back to bed. Finally, after five days of this, I went to the doctor, thinking maybe it was my gallbladder or something.
“It sounds like you might have anxiety.”
“No, I’m a stay-at-home mom. I don’t have that much stress in my life. Besides, I’m a Christian. I don’t believe in anxiety.”
“Even stay-at-home moms can have stress in their lives. Even if you don’t believe in anxiety, I really believe this is what you have.”
Later that day, my husband took the kids to the park. I came along, even though I felt I was in a fog. I felt like I wasn’t even really there. Watching my kids play, I called my sister and sobbed on the phone. Terri is my rock. She not only listens well, but she has great wisdom and our common faith in Jesus Christ has made me very close to all of my sisters. Terri confided something to me that I had never known. She too, had struggled with anxiety before.
The next day, I got out of bed. I got dressed. I did my hair. I dry-heaved. I took my kids to school. I cried. I had panic attacks. I cried some more. I prayed and begged God to take this feeling of anxiety away.
Over the next year, I literally fought a battle with anxiety. I was stubborn. I wouldn’t take medication. Instead, I went to a local herbal and vitamin store and talked to the owner who guided me to many supplements and vitamins. I started exercising, and changed the way I was eating. I began drinking healthy green smoothies and eliminated caffeine. I had to take care of myself physically, so I could take care of my family. I realized, though, that healing from anxiety was not all physical.
Taking care of myself mentally was not something I even realized I was doing at the time. I had a friend who knew what I was going through, who remained in contact with me through it all. She didn’t judge me, she only encouraged me and gave helpful advice. She told me I was strong enough to get through this, and reminded me of God’s promises of peace. Looking back, I could not have gotten through that time in my life without my friend. I also began to realize I had to stop focusing on what I was feeling and the only way I knew to do that was to focus on other people. I began to write cards for sick church members, bake bread for neighbors. I made it a goal to do at least one thing for someone else every day.
The most important and effective change I made in my life during this time was to strengthen my relationship with the Lord. Being a second-generation Christian, I grew up memorizing the scripture and hearing it preached and taught from the pulpit. All those precious promises spread throughout the Word of God were only words to me. I had never had reason to claim these promises. Promises of unconditional love, bountiful peace, and endless joy.
Most mornings I woke very early, and very suddenly, with my heart pounding a million miles a minute. Reading my Bible was the only thing that could calm my heart, and it took on a different meaning in my life. I LIVED to read my Bible, and the peace that would flood through me as I read. In the beginning, I only read through Psalms. I read them over and over. I kept a notebook with my Bible and wrote out the verses that I felt God was giving me.
I would also take very early walks. This was my prayer time with God. Before the sun was up, I would begin my walk around my neighborhood, talking to Him. Usually crying and begging Him to heal me, or at least help me get through the day.
Physically, I was dealing with some serious symptoms of anxiety. Heart palpitations, shaky legs, dry mouth, headaches, severe nausea. I had lost 40 lbs in just a few months. I had separation anxiety issues. I would cry and throw myself into my husbands arms when he would come home from work. (My poor husband!!)
One day, I reached a pivotal moment. It had been 9 months, and I was still struggling. I was on my morning walk, and had ended my walk by going to my back porch. Our back yard is beautiful. The city made a sanctuary out of a piece of land behind our house that has a large pond on it. I can see it very clearly from my back porch, along with lots of tall grasses and beautiful trees. As the sun came up, it’s rays filtering through the tree branches, tears streamed down my face.
“Lord, if You want me to have anxiety the rest of my life, I accept it. Please just be with me to help me bear it. You are Good, You are God, and You are Holy and Just. I praise Your Name. Thank You for giving me this anxiety.”
After that day, I slowly began to get better. Then, one morning I woke up and realized it had been a few days since I had felt the anxiety. Soon the days turned into months.
I would like to say that my anxiety has never returned, but the truth is, there are still days it rears its ugly head head in my life. It’s different now, though. Now I know that it’s going to be OK. That God is on my side. That there is HOPE. I have PEACE. JOY is always within reach.
I have a new life verse.
Philippians 4:7 says “And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”
It is special to me because I learned through experience that God can and will “keep our minds” if we seek Him and trust Him.
The picture below was taken last summer when our family went camping at Lake Huron. I am in no way a photographer, but this sunset was so gorgeous and so beautiful. It is just an example to me of the great things God has done in my life, and how He has blessed my journey through anxiety.
The purpose of this blog is to help encourage other Christians who struggle with anxiety. God can bring you through to the other side, and you too can have peace.