Call it resistance, name it fear, claim it a matter of the heart, anxiety is known by many names and it is a manifestation that presents itself as false truth. Anxiety is the toothless dragon, possessing the ability to scare us, but without the power to actually harm us. It is the shadow casted upon a heart meant to live lightly, it is the halter of dreams, joy and freedom. Anxiety has the ability to halt feet that were meant to run free and convince us that the purposes planned for us in this life are fallacies told to us for comfort, not solid truths that we can hold to, casting out the certainty of purpose held for each heart.
Anxiety is the lie that cuts off our ability to trust in the connection we hold with that which is higher than us. Anxiety poisons intuition as it holds a deathly grip on the subconscious reason applied to unconscious decision-making, as it drowns out the small inner voice in a wave of doubt.
Anxiety is the shadow that darkens hearts made to feel, as you once again numb yourself to feeling, leaving it incapable of joy, freedom and love, unable to feel that which is true in an attempt to evade all feeling which is not. The avoidance of anxiety is a fight for comfort that forces you to fuel the numbness, and the more you attempt to apply logic the more hardened your heart becomes.
Anxiety is the cement that holds your feet as you fail again to decide, incapable of breathing as you look to an unknown future.
Anxiety is at best a fickle friend. It knows my most intimate dreams and it knows my deepest fears, the guardian of my sleepless nights and all the words I’ve let go unsaid. It’s a friend I never wanted, and it’s a friend I have watched attempt to befriend the people with whom I lay a fiercely protective claim.
It is important to think of anxiety as an entity outside of you — it is. You are not your anxiety and your anxiety is not you. It is wholly outside of you. It is not your heart, your heart is much too tender, too precious to possess an attribute so cruel. You do not have an anxious heart. You have a heart attacked by anxiety.
I have spent years avoiding the topic of anxiety, the fact that I struggle with it, that it has a debilitating effect on my being, because in my limited understanding, my pride, my rampant perfectionism, I convinced myself the struggle made me weak and I attributed that weakness to shame for not being strong enough to stand up against it. So I set out to talk about vulnerability, passion, purpose; but failed to speak up against the one thing that is an actual inhibitor of the things I stand for so heavily, and ironically, the one thing that makes me the most vulnerable. For if a lack of passion is fatal, than the presence of anxiety is it’s dark inverse, for it’s presence is the great fatality of spirit.
The more I didn’t talk about it the heavier the pain grew, with each flippant attempt to brush it aside, the harder it became to allow my heart to feel, the more ominous the call to trust grew, and then it won. In a season of continual unknowns, I halted, incapable of growth beyond the fear held in my heart and the gnawing pain in my stomach. A resilient spirit crumbled under the weight of a fight she was never meant to attempt alone.
I like growth, learning, the manifestation of human personality, the whole bit fascinates an incredibly idiosyncratic mind. I am an active observer of my own evolution. I quietly, gently, began to approach the anxiety with an air of curiosity; but, without the pointed childlike fascination with which I approach the other attributes of the human heart. This thing, anxiety, had taken away the things I value most — joy, freedom, rest, the ability to laugh, to love the people around me and to live outwardly. It began the journey I am still on, as I began to examine the roots of the constriction around my heart with the honest apprehension of pain and the fierce anger of a severely tired heart.
What I found was that you are stronger than you know, and that’s the one thing that anxiety doesn’t want you to know. It wants to see you remain fearful, stagnant, unable to move towards whatever it is actively attempting to keep you from, it is not a friend with your interests at heart, and in that case it is not a friend, I suppose, but an ever-present acquaintance at best. As you listen to the small anxious voice that speaks
you realize it’s cadence is off, it’s an alien voice that has spent years learning to mimic your own, but with a tenor that’s slightly foreign. It is a voice void of the tenderness of mercy.
Ultimately, anxiety doesn’t make you half a human, a fearful human or a human incapable of having a great impact on this world, it simply makes you a human that anxiety occasionally visits. If you host then you know that you have the choice to decide whether or not you allow visitors to take residence, to begin a co-habitation on your couch, or if you grant the visitor only the invitation to stay for dinner, to hear them out, acknowledge their presence and then very graciously tell them you disagree with their point of view.
The power to not let anxiety run you is one of the hardest undertakings you will take, and to undertake it means you may have to let it be an occasional guest, but it also means you grant yourself the power of discernment, to understand it’s voice holds no power, it is a mere opinion in your psyche’s choir.
At it’s root anxiety is a projection. It’s a shadow function. It is a hologram that looks like your heart, but lacks the depth characteristic to the wiring of a human heart; it is nothing more than an image reflected onto your heart from a projector held between the hands of an incredibly cruel voice. Anxiety possesses not the strength, compassion, will, empathy or truth held within your heart, and those things together have the ability to withstand it’s attacks, if you will allow yourself to not give in to it’s lies and own the truth that you are stronger than you know, I actually believe that. Why? Strength, compassion, will, empathy and truth are all attributes of grace, and grace is infinitely stronger than your anxiety, and the hope held in grace is it’s great subduer. If you choose to allow grace to narrate your future you will know rest.
I write these words as a human whose heart skips a subtle beat off this morning. Anxiety quickens the stream of consciousness in the back of my mind as it attempts to walk my heart through days that have not yet been met with grace. This is anxiety’s greatest strength: it walks you through future narratives that have not yet been met in the comfort of grace, it paints plans void of mercy.
Mercy is the strength you have that anxiety lacks. You have the assurance of a future held tightly, securely in the tender hands of mercy. You can choose to talk that through with your anxiety; in my experience it is the fatal blow every time. Anxiety is a gifted narrator, but an unkind author, and we have a choice as to whether or not we allow our present to be impacted by the narratives it writes for our futures. Mercy grants us the ability to choose grace as the narrator of our futures, and we can choose to continually receive it; the beauty found is that is doesn’t run out. If there is one thing I believe for anyone who suffers, it is this, your days to come are more merciful, more grounded in truth and laced with more kindness than any plot twist anxiety has painted upon the canvas of your future days, and from one heart to another you have the deepest empathy for the lies it has let you believe.