Its crazy how the mind works, and how something that initially feels so wrong, when experienced repeatedly over time, can begin to feel normal. This was the case in my life. I've struggled with fear and anxiety ever since I can remember. Usually I wasn't aware of the struggle when I was actually in it, I just thought everyone looked at life the way I did... Questioning everything, keeping a routine, not getting involved in things that I couldn't control completely... I think the scope of my fear and anxiety grew over time and I never dealt with it head on until recently, when someone close to me helped me to realize just how paralyzing it had become.
My fear had begun to take on its own form in my life. My sister would refer to it as my "Best Friend" because I had become so dependent upon it. It was what I always turned to when things got uncomfortable.
Everything came to a head this last January as I began to deal with my long list of fears. The things that I feared were often irrational, crazy and really almost hypothetical. Because I knew many of them were irrational, I started to convince myself that they ALL were and that none of them would ever truly happen.
Over the last 8 months in order to deal with my fears, I began writing the big ones down. One of those was losing someone I loved. I had never experienced the death of a loved one and I SO, SO feared it. I didn't know how I would ever deal with such a loss.
In January of 2014, Tracy, one of my best friends since 6 grade, was in a car accident and 3 days later passed away. During those three days after his accident, I was in major denial. Everyone was telling me how severe it was but it was almost like my body physically couldn't handle it. I couldn't deal with that sort of pain, I didn't know how to. The day that my friend passed was one of the worst days of my entire life, leading into the worst month of my entire life.
My heart and my life began to fall apart at the seams. I began to question everything I had believed my entire life. If God is good, why would he do this? Why would he take such an AMAZING beautiful human being? Where is my best friend? I negotiated with God: I need to know he is okay, so God, give me a sign, show me he is with you and everything I believe about you is real... But I got no answer.
On top of questioning my beliefs, major guilt started to set in... I couldn't stop thinking things like "I could have been a better friend", "Why didn't I visit him?", "I am a horrible person for not being there", "How could I let my anxiety and fear stop me from visiting him?"... I began to beat myself down and the guilt, fear and anxiety made its way back in on full attack mode.
I was driving to work on a Sunday about a month after Tracy passed away and I was just sobbing. It had all become too much. I couldn't handle the amount of guilt I was feeling, I couldn't handle how much fear I was experiencing and I couldn't handle how debilitating the anxiety was. My mom called me and told me that I had to listen to my Dad's message that he had preached that day about identity. I knew I needed that message. I had so beaten myself down, I had no idea WHO I was anymore. Everything I had previously thought about myself was gone and what remained was everything that I wasn't and feelings about what I should be. I was confused, so I got home later that night and turned my Dad's message on.
That message was everything I needed to hear. I began to realize that I was identifying myself by my fear, guilt and shame and not by how God sees me. God FULLY knows me, and FULLY loves me. That means even through my shortcomings, through my sin, through the things I lack. He knows every part of it, and He loves every part of me. What do I know about God? I know that he is good and when I come to him, that I am forgiven, that I am delivered from false labels (even the ones that I have placed on myself) and now finally, I am at peace.
This didn't happen in just one day, but it happens EVERYday. I daily have to give him my struggles so in turn he can give me grace and remind me that I am FREE from my guilt and my shame and I am NOT identified by my fear and anxiety, and I can trust Him. I am identified in Him and His grace is big enough to overcome anything I give to Him.
I have made you. I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you. Isaiah 46:4
So I write today NOT perfect, but I will continue to hold on to God's truth and continually identify myself in Him.