Living with Anxiety: How Anxiety Has Shaped Me and Brought Me Closer to God – Guest Post – Jessi Schafer

We all experience anxiety in some way or another at some point in our lives. I think I’ve struggled with it since I can remember, but after I had my first son, it really started to negatively impact my life. It had gotten so bad that I was in the doctors office one day because I thought I was having a heart attack. It’s crazy what you can convince yourself of.

I’d like to say right now–on this day–that I have overcome my anxiety, but that’s not the case. I have learned to live with it, and I can say with confidence that I’m thankful for my struggle because it’s brought me closer to God and continues to do so on a daily basis.

I wanted to share a little bit about how I got to this place. After being saved, I kept reaching for God more and more because it was the only thing that made sense to me for a really long time. That was two years ago. Two years building a relationship with God, and this is what I’ve learned regarding my anxiety.

Each time I get anxiety and it heightens and I begin to worry, panic, or feel depressed, I try to acknowledge it as soon as I can. Then I ask God, “Why am I feeling this way? What is causing me this anxiety?” Then, I pray right then and there. Sometimes out loud when I’m home alone with my kids. Sometimes I pray to myself in my head; I just talk with God. I have notepads full of prayers. The notepad on my phone is full of prayers.

Over these past two years, the only thing that’s worked for me to get rid of my anxieties is building a one on one relationship with God.My anxiety has also helped me grow my faith in Him and to trust Him because He’s ALWAYS there. In these past two years, He has never left my side. As I have continued to build this relationship, I have seen so many answered prayers. He always helps me clear my head. When I feel unsure or uneasy, He points me back in the right direction.

I get anxiety about a lot of things. Sometimes, I get anxiety about having anxiety. But instead of trying to run from it, I run to God and each time I do something changes in me. It’s like he’s using my anxiety to help me grow more and more into the image of Christ. It’s a beautiful thing when you look at it this way.What you are doing right NOW matters. God has placed you here for a reason. Even the smallest moments that spark anxiety can be a lesson to be learned. Embrace it. You can let it control you or you can have the control.

Just remember you are okay. Nothing is wrong with you. God knows your struggles, and He can help you through them. There are times when anxiety can take you to a place where you feel weak and vulnerable and like you are breaking down, but in those moments, YOU can choose to be strong. Choose God.

Say what you are feeling even if you don’t understand it. There are so many times when my husband asks me what’s wrong, and I truly can’t always put my finger on it. I overthink EVERYTHING. Usually when he notices something is up is when I’m being quiet and I had to tell him I’m too upset right now to talk. I don’t want to say something I don’t mean. I use that quiet time to talk with the Lord.

Let Him help you through your daily struggles, not just the big ones.

I feel like I could write a book just talking about anxiety. There is so much more to my story… the big experiences and the small. Everyday I experience some sort of anxiety, and although sometimes it’s a struggle, I know my heart is changing. I can say today that I have more peace than I ever have before. Its only been a few years, and I’m at a completely different place than I was, but I know I am nowhere near where God is trying to take me.

Embrace your mess. We are not perfect, but our God is, and He has a plan. Trust it. Have faith. Take it one day at a time.

Looking for answers? Look to Jesus. 

Here are some of my favorite verses:

“Cast your anxieties on Him because He cares for you.”

1 Peter 5:7

“Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

Mathew 6:34

– Jessi

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