A battle plan for when anxiety attacks

May 24, 2013 | creativity, God-centered | 4 comments

There was nothing out of the ordinary this past Sunday night.

boysdinner

A beautiful dinner at a fun new restaurant, a bath full of four joyful boys, and bedtime reading snuggles. Once the light was turned off I leaned across Price to whisper a prayer in Quade's ear.

"Dear Lord, Thank you for Quade. Thank you for how you have gifted him. May he continue to seek after you and know you. May you reveal the plans you have for Him. May he honor you, using his gifts for your glory. Thank you for this past year and all that he has learned. Bless this last week of school and his time with his friends. Amen."

Somehow in the middle of that prayer fear set in.

Price started begging, "My turn mommy, my turn. Pray for me now." But my mind was distracted and filled with a horrible thought...

I started to pray for Price but it was one of those times my lips moved but I was unsure what I said because my thoughts were consumed elsewhere.

I felt my chest tighten at the thought of sending Quade to school the next day. For some unknown reason I feared he wouldn't come home Monday night if I sent him to school Monday morning.

It sounds silly but I couldn't shake it. Feeling the weight of losing my first born son...the loss of all I felt God had for him to become. Wasn't my last post on feelings? How they reveal what we truly believe about God? How can a Christian feel anxious? Doesn't God say over and over "Do not be afraid"?

And yet I couldn't deny the fear. It was a real feeling, but I wouldn't let it just take over. I decided to fight back.

the battle plan:

{tell someone}

Bruce sat on the couch waiting for our usual post-boys-in-bed-catch-up time. I fell onto the couch and spilled out all my unwarranted concerns. How strongly I felt Quade was in danger. My words must have been convincing because he asked if maybe we should keep Quade home all week. Of course, hearing Bruce worry made me aware of how ridiculous my fear was and I dismissed his suggestion.

It was the last week of school, after all  How could Quade miss the last week? His teacher speaks in Scripture and pours out truth...he couldn't miss any moment in her presence.

Having to express my anxiety in words started to help release some of it's hold...but there was still this nudging. Was it a mother's intuition?

{pray}

I didn't know what else to do but pray. I sent out emails for prayer. I posted my concern on a private Facebook page.

Lying in bed still unsettled I read a devotional email from Zondervan...they send one every night. But this one caught my eye. The Spirit revealed this familiar verse in a new way to me:

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7, emphasis added)

In every situation includes--> "when you are scared to send your son to school". So I fell asleep with a peace that passes all understanding as I prayed thanksgiving.

{read His word}

The next morning Bruce had to leave the house early so I was on kid duty (normally he feeds the boys breakfast so I can have my quiet time). But  on this particular day I didn't mind losing my "break". Because each interaction with Quade I froze in my mind just in case it would be the last (sounds ridiculous now...). Each exchange of laughter between he and Price.  Each sweet smile he flashed across the table...

Then I opened up my Bible to continue my reading in John (for our HelloMornings Bible study). These were the words I read:

Jesus said to him, “Go; your son will live.” The man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him and went on his way.  (John 4:50)

A story I've read many times before about an officier begging Jesus to heal his son...had new meaning for me that Monday morning. I just sat there and cried. Yes, Lord. You see my fear and you remind me it will be okay. He is your child.

Thankfully my fears were not realized...Quade came home safely Monday afternoon.

*It wasn't until Bruce came home from work I learned about the tragedies in Oklahoma. That Monday night I attended the taping of  "Life Today" with James Robison. Between interviews they announced 20 children had died when an elementary school had been destroyed by the tornado and we stopped to pray. I couldn't help but think perhaps my "feeling" Sunday night of anxiety and fear wasn't given by the Spirit as a warning for my son, but as a prompt to pray for all those children in Oklahoma who wouldn't come home from school Monday afternoon... and for their families. 

{journal}

I have to tell you one more story (with her full permission). My dear friend Michelle shared with me how last Thursday she woke up feeling completely overwhelmed with anxiety.  Too much stress, too much on her to-do list, too many things that she didn't have control over.  Here was her battle plan (encouraged by her friend's early morning Instagram post about art journaling):

"I sat down with a small paper, opened my mini-journal and flipped through some of the wisdom God has given me during previous quiet time... Out fell a card that said: "Look at what you've got and make the best of it. It's better to light a candle than to curse the darkness."

artjournalingI let go of the need to make pretty art (that's a hard one) and decided to let all the ugly anxiety spill out onto the paper. The art is ugly.  But the beauty in those moments, the truth that God spoke to me?  Priceless.  Those 10 minutes were a complete day changer.  The anxiety disappeared, and in it's place was this truth:

You have all the tools you need already (to deal with life, anxiety, worry). The 'extra' things you like to do, LOVE to do, the things that bring you JOY, but always fall away first when you are stressed or overwhelmed? They aren't meant to be 'extra'.  They ARE the tools you were given to deal with everything else.

When I heard Michelle's story it thrilled me...she worshipped God through making art. God met her and she got back in rhythm with His truth instead of riding her feelings.

What is your "battle plan" when anxiety attacks? Have you ever tried art journaling or another tool to get in rhythm with God?

4 Comments

  1. Erin

    I needed this today. My husband and I are leaving to go out of the country tomorrow for 8 days and I have had all kinds of anxiety about leaving my 2 boys. I finally voiced it to a friend last night. I don’t feel like it is gone yet, but I am fighting and praying against my fears. I have to trust that God is in control.

    • Heather MacFadyen

      thankful to get your comment…for you to even verbalize your fears in this space hopefully helped relieve them. I remember struggling to leave my kiddos with my parents and then I thought, “I’m assuming bad things can only happen when my children aren’t with me.”…That there entire safety and well-being is up to me. What a heavy load to bear! May you enjoy your 8 days away with your husband and feel peace and calm while you are away. I promise the memories you make with your husband will outlast any fear or anxiety you felt in leaving. blessings.

  2. Melanie

    I have struggled with severe anxiety for over 2 decades… I have been medication free for about 3 years now (was on every diff, always changing, anti anxiety medicine out there for over 10 yrs, on & off)… Now that I have maturely and more understandingly drawn closer to God I find my anxiety getting a bit smaller… But the key is daily for me… If I get confident in my healing upward movement and give less of myself to God, I feel the troubles and anxiety creep it’s way back… For me, it’s listening to God for a change, being positive & thankful, in all situations… Looking for the rainbows through the storms… I am a mother of three small children and of course it’s not my first reaction, haha, but it does help me to be at peace & let positivity & confidence run through me. Life is but a few breaths in comparison to what we will experience in eternity. I refuse to let the devil succeed in bringing me fear and anxiety as a lifetime of struggle, holding me back while here on earth,but rather battle back & give my gifts & talents to serve God and my family

    • Heather MacFadyen

      thanks for sharing your story Melanie. what an encouragement to others who may be still in the midst of severe anxiety. way to stand your ground against the enemy’s lies and focus on God’s plan for you in His kingdom business. Go team!!

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