Out of Water

By Sarah Stonier

fish out of waterI recently saw a commercial for childhood Asthma; it pictures a gold fish flopping around, his little body seizing without water, his mouth opening and closing in its constriction. My first thought was HOW were “no animals harmed in the making of this picture?!” My second thought was how closely the images captured what it’s like for me when I have a panic attack; the moments when I allow anxiety and nerves to control my emotions.

During panic attacks my fingers tense up with adrenaline, my breathing increases rapidly almost to a point of having to gasp for air. I have never been diagnosed with clinical anxiety or take medication- but what I experience is very much the physical descriptors listed in this helpful article by Stephen Altrogge. I experience violent shudders and am unable to catch my breath at all and it’s as if adrenaline has taken over my body. Though I have never been diagnosed,  I’ve just always called them panic attacks.

I get anxious over just about anything. In fact my anxiety is starting to trickle hotly down my spine as I think of what my friends who read this will think of they  know that I’m not always calm, cool and collected. I’m not always a powerhouse of confidence and more often than not I feel very vulnerable. I used to think I was the only weak one because I grappled with anxiety and fear of man, but as I’ve grown older I’ve learned that it’s something many women come toe-to-toe with in their varying walks of life.

I learned the words “Be anxious of nothing” almost as soon as I learned “For God so loved the world” and “Jesus wept.” It’s a verse I’ve repeated to myself time and time again. It’s the truth I’ve used to calm myself down when the worry wears me down.

Panic attacks for me are not daily occurrences, in fact there are many incredibly bold things I can do without anxiety; for instance I can speak to a group of CEO’s and Vice Presidents or work in an orphanage in the slums of Cambodia completely and utterly alone. Yet in high school I would become nervous about raising my hand in class even though I knew the right answer, I become anxious over whether or not I did enough at my job on a daily basis or I worry and stress over my younger brother Samuel becoming independent.

Seeking out the root of my anxiety underneath the veil of the specific circumstances has been helpful for cultivating peace about those circumstances. Why am I anxious? Why do I worry? The two answers for me would be:  the fear or man and doubting God.

 

Anxiety from Fear

In the past I have allowed myself to place my  worth and confidence in the opinions of others! Preposterous. The Son of Man has an opinion of me, and it is redeemed, chosen, set apart, and created!  If I rest in the assurance of who Christ tells me I am in Him then the molds other people create for me break apart. In Colossians it tells me that in Christ, I have been made anew and complete. That newness and completeness brings with it a confidence that I have no reason to fear what I am lacking in the worlds eyes.

Worry from Doubt

When I worry about circumstances and various situations, in truth I doubt God. Though my brows are furrowed in tension, I am actually throwing my head back and laughing like Sarah in the Old Testament. There are so many scriptures that defy the logic that says that I am in control and I must fret over and manage the specifics of every detail of my life. Does my Father not say to me “Look at the birds of the air….” And does he not care and provide even for them?

I think for all of us worrying woman we know “Be anxious of nothing” but we are quick to forget the rest of the passage;

“Be anxious of nothing, BUT through everything, in prayer and supplication make your requests known to God, so that the peace of God may guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus” (Phil 4: 6-7 emphasis mine).

 Instead of simply telling ourselves not to be anxious we should listen to how God tells us we don’t have to be anxious; PRAY! How often do I not pray about what I’m worrying about and how much energy must I expend in giving myself over to panic when I could be hitting my knees and surrendering to the Alpha and the Omega?

I have made a point to state the whole verse that follows be anxious of nothing, I have transformed it into the gateway of my prayers. I start with His words and follow with my own. In addition, I think that it is so important that I not limit myself to one standard verse of encouragement; the Bible is teeming with the peace of the Master and if I dive in headfirst, letting the living water flow over me, I will have more than one arrow to pierce through my fear and my doubt.

Just like a small fish struggling without the water, so too am I going to struggle if I am not drinking of the water I was given, that water intended for me to drink of deeply, that I might never thirst again.

 

 

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