In the Fall of 2006, during a night of prayer and worship, I sensed God’s voice loud and clear: “Are you all in?” I was on my knees, shaking, trying my hardest not to weep uncontrollably. I was overwhelmed. I knew something was about to go wrong. You see, a few days prior, my mom’s doctor told us that he was concerned about suspicious cells in her body and he wanted her to come in for a few more tests. My anxiety — which I thought was kept at bay — was back. Not too long after, my mom’s lab results confirmed what we feared most: cancer. The serious kind. The kind that wasn’t curable.
When God asked me if I was all in, my answer was immediate: “Jesus, you are the Truth. You are the source of life. To whom else shall I go?” At the time, I didn’t quite fathom the extent of how my trust was going to be tested. My mom passed away only 14 months later.
Since my mom’s illness and death, I’ve become increasingly anxious about everything. I’m a worrywart. One time, I got so scared about a meeting with my boss that I had a very difficult time breathing and could barely make out a sentence. I’ve spent too many hours on Google self-diagnosing anything that felt abnormal. I’ve had my share of debilitating moments, complete with sharp pangs in my chest. (I was convinced it was a heart attack, of course.) Every time my phone rings, my immediate thought is that someone has died or something bad has happened. The list goes on and on.
I like to organize and schedule things to compensate for my fear of the future. I overthink everything, so for me, all decisions (big or small) take time. I am terrified that I will disappoint people, so I do not like taking risks. I often turn down invitations to social gatherings because I tend to be anxious around other people, especially ones I haven’t met. When I am feeling especially anxious, I’ve sometimes intentionally tried to fill my mind with any kind of noise so I don’t have to sit in silence, in case God had something scary to say. If you browse through my journal, you’ll commonly see the same prayer: “I’m scared to hear from you, God. I know you’re calling. But I’m terrified of what you’re going to say.” A devotional I frequently read captured my anxiety well: “Fear was the language I understood and spoke most fluently.”
It doesn’t come as a surprise that God chose to reveal his sovereignty to me by addressing my fear. Don’t get me wrong. My commitment to Christ, and the many Scripture verses about anxiety, do not automatically make me invincible and impenetrable. I’m no Iron (Wo)man. My unrelenting mind and my overactive imagination show no signs of slowing down. I’m still constantly worried and anxious about many things. However, my fluency in the language of fear is met perfectly by God’s courage. Without fail, when my knees start to falter, I hear God’s gentle but strong whisper: “I’m with you.”
I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world (John 16:33).
I wasn’t super prepared when I spoke at my mom’s funeral service. To be honest, my mind was too busy to put two thoughts together. After mumbling a few thanks to people who have loved us generously, the one thing I do remember saying were my favorite lines from a Matt Maher song: “Declare victory. For from you, and through you, and for you are all things. To you be all glory, all honor, all blessing.”
Every day, I need to constantly remind myself to hang in there and boldly declare victory over the fear that is trying to knock me off my feet. If you feel as if you’re living in a world of “what ifs,” as if you’re backed into a corner with nowhere else to turn, talk to us about it.
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