What Anxiety & Depression Taught Me about Myself, The World, and God (Part 1 of 3)
Friends, I’ve missed you! It’s been quite a while since I’ve posted a blog, I know. I thought about coming back strong with a series or a new amazing download but, since I consider you a dear friend, I’d rather share honestly the real reason I’ve taken a blogging hiatus…
The truth is, the past year has been one of the hardest of my life. Anxiety and depression have stolen my joy and wrecked my body in a very tangible way. Together, they nearly broke me. But instead, they forced me to fight. Through the battle, I’ve learned more about my God and myself than I have during any other season of my life. I’ve grown to more deeply appreciate my family and friends—the dear ones who stand bravely beside me, reminding of what is true.
Finally, I feel strong enough to share myself with you again. Maybe, for the first time.
I share this story only because I want to encourage you. I share because, perhaps, one of you is sitting where I was 6 months ago. Maybe one of you needs to know someone else understands. Maybe you need to know someone else is standing beside you, fighting the very same battle.
I plan to share the full story with you over the next 3 weeks, so stay tuned.
In order to tell you what really happened, it’s necessary to start from the beginning.
When I was a little girl I had a voice like Minnie Mouse and wore bows as big as my head. I talked a mile-a-minute and never met a stranger. I made up elaborate games for my little sister, choreographed Christmas pageants for my cousins, and led the neighborhood kids in excursions through the creek behind our house.
I watched admiringly as my mom played soccer at age 40, cheered us on at every sporting event, and then turned around to host elaborate dinner parties at our home. I wanted to be just like her. If my mom was Wonder Woman, my daddy was Superman. I’ve adored him ever since I can remember. We laughed until our bellies hurt and blasted the radio together in the car.
I met God as a tiny kid, in second grade at church. I loved Him and trusted Him. I grew a sweet relationship with my heavenly Father and a genuine desire to learn more about Him.
Childhood was pure joy. I was a little girl with big ideas, too much to say, and abounding energy.
Then, somewhere along the way I learned the World had Rules for little girls like me.
The Rules of the World
I started school and quickly discovered that it’s always better to measure your words. Be careful what you say out loud. You never know what people might think. The popular little girls—the ones that were always praised by the teachers—said the right things. So, I learned to share only the ideas I knew the grown-ups would like and add phrases like “yes ma’am” and “no, thank you” for extra points.
I learned that little girls with strong opinions aren’t liked very much. So in high school, I was quiet and really good at laughing at the cool boy’s jokes. I still said “yes ma’am” and “no thank you” and followed all the rules the grown-ups set—no drinking, no cussing, no sex. I mastered the skills of observation and assimilation. I learned to act and say what would gain the approval of those around me—whether they were grown-ups or kids at school.
I was smart, but I learned that smart girls with big dreams are weird. So I learned how to say just enough to make the boys like me, but not enough to intimidate them. The World taught me that young ladies must always be presentable and happy because serious, thoughtful girls are “bitchy.” So I wore lipstick and smiled, even when I didn’t feel like it. I was prom queen and cheer captain and popular, but I wasn’t very good at being myself—only I didn’t know it.
I thought I was being my natural self. Until recently, I believed I was born quiet and measured, peppy and polite, a perfectionist with a burning drive to succeed.
But now I know, I was mostly faking.
Your story might be different than mine. But I wonder—are there false Rules you’ve accepted as law too? I wonder if those Rules taught you to pretend you are someone other than who you were created to be?
One of the most important lessons I’ve learned lately it that it is critical to sift The Rules of the World through the Truth in God’s Word.
Who does He say I am?
In case you need a refresher, too, this is who I believe we are:
Not God. (Thank God!) He is trustworthy and in control. When things feel out of control, He is our shield and our comforter. (Psalm 46)
Chosen & Forgiven. If we’ve accepted the incredible gift of salvation through Jesus, we have no reason to live in guilt or shame. We are free to be ourselves, not embarrassed by what others think of us. The approval of God is worth more than the acceptance of our bosses, the other moms waiting in the carpool line, or those girls who only wear sports bras in the front row at spin class. (Eph. 1:11)
A Masterpiece. We are God’s workmanship, created with a purpose. Our talents and quirks, freckles and, even, the hair on our upper lip—they are not mistakes. (Eph. 2:10)
Weirdos. As Christ followers, we are not meant to be accepted by the World. We are ambassadors and aliens here on Earth. While we are called to respect authority and follow the laws of the land, The Rules of the World shouldn’t scare us. We are allowed to say things the World thinks are crazy. We are called to love others in big ways—even if it makes people a bit uncomfortable. (John 17:16, Phil. 3:20)
Conquerors. Regardless of the trials, we are walking through, His love is our victory. We have hope and security because of the great love of Christ Jesus. (Romans 8:35-39)
What is God teaching you about who you truly are? What is He teaching you about who He is?
To read on to Part 2, click here.