Living with anxiety and Jesus? Is it possible to live your life with both? Let’s answer that question with a scene from a child’s movie. Weird place to begin? I know. Just hang in there with me, there’s a point to this, I promise:
The scene is epic, an edge-of-your-seat thriller…for a 5-year-old.
Let me paint the picture for you if you’ve never seen Finding Nemo. (Or possibly only once and not 100 times like I have with my kids.)
Dory and Marlin are in the mouth of a whale, after Dory spoke a little whalenese (yes, that’s a word) (no, it’s really not, but I like to keep you on your toes) to a whale for help, they end up sucked into its mouth. Anyway, they’re holding on for dear life to the tongue of the whale as it’s lifting it up to swallow.
Dory hears the whale give her the ok to go because, remember, she speaks whalenese. So, she let’s go.
Marlin panics and grabs hold of Dory with one fin and the whales’ tongue with the other.
(Edge. Of. Your. Seat.)
“It’s time to let go, everything is going to be alright,” declares Dory.
Marlin shouts in reply, eyes wide, “How do you know?” “How do you know something bad isn’t going to happen?”
“I don’t,” Dory says with a shake of her little fishy head.
That Dory—she’s got some wisdom, am I right?
I have watched this movie so many times with my boys and something stands out to me every single time I watch this.
I’m a lot like Marlin. A lot. We’re pretty much pals, buds; *Fist/fin bump.
Both Marlin and I want to stay safe at all cost. We want assurance that absolutely nothing bad will happen before we choose to do it. We want control.
You see, if you’re anything like ol’ Marlin and me, anxiety and fear can tend to dictate our every choice. This is especially true when it comes to situations where we have little to no control. We
like LOVE control.
Let me give you an example.
I don’t enjoy flying. Okay, actually, I hate flying. I mean, come on, it’s just not natural. We’re not meant to be 30,000 feet up in the air. With our loved ones. In a tin can. With a seat belt (like that’s going to help.)
In this situation I am Marlin, sweating bullets, waiting to board and asking, “How do you know nothing bad is going to happen?” My best buddy, anxiety, is always so eager to whisper, “Let’s just stay local and save yourself the possible bad outcome. ”
Aw, isn’t that just thoughtful, he’s really looking out for me.
With anxiety and fear comes an intense need to control. If I could just see the future and that plane landing safely than we’d be good! Hand me my ticket and I’ll be skipping down the ramp, whistlin’ Dixie.
But when I don’t know the outcome? Well, I better just stay back where I’m safe and nothing bad can happen. Let’s not go bursting our little comfort bubble that anxiety has carefully put in place.
The funny thing about anxiety is that it promises you freedom, but in reality, your world grows a little smaller each time you listen to it. There have been so many times I’ve been so terrified of the outcome that I’ve simply walked away.
And I’ve regretted it. Every. Single. Time.
Living with Anxiety and Jesus
Where do you seek to control?
Maybe for you, it’s not a plane, maybe you’re fine with heights… (weirdo.) I’m totally kidding. I’m just jealous you can get on a plane without a panic attack.
All kidding aside because I know how awful it feels to have anxiety control you.
Maybe for you, it’s allowing your kids to go somewhere without you, sending them to a friends’ house or camp. Something bad could happen to them and how would you handle that? Worse yet, it’d be your fault. Better to keep them home where it’s safe.
Maybe it’s taking a job or moving, what if you make the wrong choice? Better to stay where you are.
What about that desire that you’ve had tucked in your heart for years to go out and try? But what if you fail? Better to not try at all.
Or quite possibly you’re like I was years ago when even the everyday things were a challenge. Maybe you’re so caught in anxiety that it feels scary to even go outside or to socialize…or to be alone. Maybe every day is just terrifying.
If this is the case, can I just say, I’m sorry. Please hear me when I say this;
It does get better.
It really does.
I have lived with debilitating anxiety, panic, and depression. I have learned to fight it one lie at a time and because of this, I stand before you a different woman today. But it did not happen overnight.
Let me tell you one little thing that I have learned that has helped me with this controlling, anxious nature that seems to cling to me.
I do it anyway. And I do it afraid.
There are literally countless stories in the bible of people who “did it afraid.” I don’t have time to share all of them here, but let me give you one little snippet from the life of Paul the Apostle.
“For even when we came into Macedonia our flesh had no rest, but we were afflicted on every side: conflicts without and fears within..” 2 Cor. 7:5
Did you catch that? “Fears within.” Paul was not immune to the feelings that we feel. He had fears within. But did he stop? No, he didn’t. He did it afraid.
We may do it afraid, but we don’t do it alone.
There’s no guarantee that nothing bad will happen and that is a scary place to be when you know the whole control thing is really just an illusion. In fact, Jesus said bad things will happen. But you know what else he said
“..in Me you have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
When I find myself in a situation that frightens me, I look at it as a fork in the road. Anxiety calls me in one direction and Jesus calls me in the other.
I have a choice…
It might look scary walking in the direction Jesus is calling me, but I can tell you this, I have never once regretted it. Not once.
I can say confidently that neither will you. If you trust Him with who he says he is, then you can trust that he is in control. We may not know the future and every possible outcome, but He does.
This world is scary and uncertain, there’s just no way around it. Bad, scary things happen. But Jesus overcame it.
Believing in Jesus is being in Jesus.
That my friend makes you an overcomer. He overcame it, so you have overcome it.
That is true control.
Take some time to think about this. He wants you to know the peace that He bought with His life. It’s yours, just like that. You don’t have to do a single thing. Just believe.
You will feel afraid. Anxiety isn’t going to just up and walk away. But when you know who you are and whose you are, life just doesn’t look as scary anymore. The more you believe and the more you choose Him over the anxiety, the more you will feel the peace He promises.
Bottom line, the more you face the fear, the more it backs down.
That’s what I mean by doing it anyway and doing it afraid. Let Him prove himself to you. Choose the scary and He’ll meet you there. I promise.
But more importantly, He promises.
Thankfully, for us anxious folks, we don’t have to do it alone. We don’t have to “jump” and just chance it. We can jump and know with certainty that He has a plan and it is perfect, no matter what.
I long to be like Dory, when Jesus says, “it’s time to let go.”
I want to reply with a leap.
My greatest goal is to trust beyond my fear and all the, “what if’s” and “worst case scenarios.” When I’m wanting to control, I strive to look to the one that is in control. To simply trust Him enough with my very being that I just jump.
He is faithful, you know. He is.
I’ve seen it first hand.
Let’s hold fins, trust Him, and jump. What do ya say?
As always, friend, thank you for stopping by,
What frightens you? What situation is causing you to fear and want to back out because you don’t have control?