My journey with anxiety has been just that. A journey. I have no doubt it stems from inherited trauma. That means events I was not even around for or had any hand in creating still affected and molded my thought-life and belief systems. That, and the immediate example I had in the home that bred a survival mentality.When you’re in a space of survival, your behavior and decisions are based solely on fear. Click To Tweet
Fear you won’t be able to pay your bills. Fear you won’t have money for gas to get to work. Fear your child will be taken from you if you can’t care for them.
I remember dropping to my knees at 10 years old and praying my mother would be able to find work. I was told if she didn’t find a job, she would have to enlist in the army to provide for us. Looking back, I now understand that as a 10-year-old, I was taking on an emotional and even spiritual burden that I shouldn’t have been in a position to carry. My mother didn’t intend to stress me out, she was just being honest about our situation and trying to prepare me for what could happen next.
I remember being sad and scared. I didn’t want my mom away from me. I didn’t want to lose her. I needed my mother.
Though our family went through hard times, I’m one of the lucky ones. I can confidently say all of my physical needs were met by my primary caregivers. I never went hungry (thank God for free lunch in suburban schools.) I always had clothes that fit (perks of being an only child). I always had a warm place to sleep (even if I slept on the floor in the living room.) But because there was fear attached to the fight to acquire those things to meet my needs, I developed a heightened sense of fear and a fragile sense of security. Growing up, there was a lingering awareness that “I must work hard to ensure my needs are always met.” That mindset was ironclad, and only God could shake it.
Well, shake He did. (Hebrews 12:27)
Our society typically rewards hard work. It pretty much bends to the driven, Type-A, Achievers of the world. You study for x amount of hours, you get an A on your test. You work 40 hours in a pay period, you get a check at the end of the pay cycle. That kind of input/output institution personally gives me a sense of inner peace. It puts me at ease. I put in x, I get out y, the world keeps turning. But this way of living doesn’t heal the inner trauma lurking beneath our successful endeavors. The trauma that induces a rat-race type of behavior rooted in a fear of survival.
My very first experience of God highlighting this anxious outlook was after graduation. I couldn’t find work. I was so stressed that I ended up working at a fast food spot. All I knew was fast food then, so I went back to what I knew, even with a Bachelor of Science degree in business. And though I had a place to live and a car, and my physical needs met, it drove me nuts that I was depending on my mother to meet them. Independence has always been a high value for me and our relationship was rocky, so it was doubly humbling to be in this situation.
Fast forward a few years later, I was unemployed again and still living with my mom. I was told my old employer was blocking me from working at my new job due to a non-compete agreement I had naively signed. I was heartbroken and so stressed that my hair started falling out. I looked at my future, and all I saw was darkness.
But it was in this space that God was teaching me dependence on Him.
He was teaching me to “Be anxious for nothing.”
This was a new lesson. I had been learning my whole life to be anxious, and now, all of a sudden, I’m not supposed to be? My parents had unintentionally taught me that I needed to be afraid and work hard, or my needs would not be met. Now, I was being taught to not work and instead, trust God to provide. As you can imagine, it was a slow unwinding of my previous belief system. One I am still experiencing.
Years later, I found myself unemployed, again, after working for my employer for 8 ½ years. I was down and out, to say the least. I fell into depression and had so much anxiety that my mind felt like rats were ravishing it. I was frantic because I could not find a job, and my lease was ending. The severance pay I received was running out. All I could think was that I would camp on my mother’s couch and succumb to my depression.
When I went to tell my landlord my situation, that it had been 6 whole months since I was laid off and I still couldn’t find work, he didn’t blink an eye. He offered me a position at his architectural firm, where I received my first job as a bookkeeper.
There have been so many times in my journey where I freak out and allow anxiety to rule me, specifically in my career and romantic relationships. But recently, in taking this attachment style quiz I found that even though I still struggle with anxiety and insecurity in these areas, I scored “secure.” In fact, I scored “secure “the other 3x’s I took the test. I even switched the test and did a different one just because I thought something was wrong with the test! But what I knew to be true was that God was showing me how far I’ve come. The path of life He put me on at 19 years old resulted in great healing, maturity, and wholeness some 20 years later.
It is not about perfection but about progress.
We are all on a journey and can struggle daily, but rest in how far you’ve come. If you’re like me and value self-growth, wholeness, and healing, I’m sure you can look back and see the evolution that is you.
And even when I look back at 10-year-old me, I beam with pride. God answered that little girl’s prayer to provide a job for her mom, and that job ended up being a position at a company where her mother worked for 25 years. Talk about job security. Not only that, but that company brought forth the provision for me that I needed these 5 years in entrepreneurship.
I can honestly say that God has always met me and provided my needs.
He is my security.
Phil 4:19 “And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.”
In other news, did you know that I just dropped the pre-sale for my debut novel When Love Wins? You can check out more here! This time around there is an audiobook in addition to the eBook and paperback versions. Make sure you are subscribed to my email list to catch special offers, discounts, insider information, and more!
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