I want to confess to you that I have had an unhealthy relationship in my life. It was one of those things where I knew something was off, but I had some trouble breaking the cycle of hurt and pain. By the time I understood just how unhealthy the situation was, it seemed easier to stay than go.
When we met, it was as if we had known one another for ages! I felt understood, you know? I mean, I guess there were signs (there are always signs) that something was amiss, but they didn’t seem like a big deal. I was only twisting my hair and biting my lip.
Over time, however, the things got worse. I had constant tension in my back and knots the size of marbles. I wore my shoulders like they were earrings. My tummy would do that flip-flop thing like when you’re excited, but it's actually dread. I over analyzed just about everything and couldn’t turn off the negative thought invaders. I found it impossible to truly relax, even in a hot bath with Epsom salt, a good book, pretty candles, and a glass of wine. It was pretty bad.
I’ve tried quitting this relationship before. I make this resolve that I can be strong and stand up for myself. Inevitably, though, I end up staying, feeling powerless to change my circumstance. If this sounds abusive, you are right on the money. It is. But my abuser isn’t a person. What beats me up regularly and hurts me repeatedly is anxiety. Which, let’s be clear, is a fancy word for worry.
I only recently understood the abuse cycle that had been happening for more years than I can remember. I mean, I knew anxiety wasn’t a good thing, but I had gotten used to it in my life. There was even a time when I felt like it was a form of protection. If I pre-worried about something, I could make a plan and therefore handle any situation, right? What could go wrong?
A lot went wrong. It turns out no matter how much you worry and plan, you can’t anticipate everything, so your planning goes out the window, and you’re still in a situation you can’t control. Or, if you worry and plan for something and it happens the way you thought, you reinforce your stress strategy. Can we all just agree this endless cycle is exhausting?
The absurdity of anxiety clicked for me while watching Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them with the fam. Newt Scamander, the lead character, remarks, “My philosophy is that worrying means you suffer twice.” That truth knocked me upside the head. Yes! You suffer when you worry, and then you suffer again if the thing you’re worried about happens. It’s all suffer, suffer, suffer! And it’s ridiculous. So I quit worrying just like that. Done.
Haha. Just kidding. If it were that easy, no one would ever struggle with anxiety. I’ll be honest, this one is a bear to beat. That’s why I call it an abusive relationship. Anxiety seems to have all the power, whispering junk like, “not good enough,” or “they’ll be disappointed in you…again.” Ugh! I just want to punch it in the face!
The struggle is real, but I learned something interesting a few months ago that has turned the tables for me. To be clear, I had previously tried an innumerable amount of things that didn’t work. So I was excited when I tried this, it helped, and it wasn't yoga.
In Matthew 4: 10-11, Jesus had been hanging out in the desert with the devil for over a month. The devil tried every trick in the book and finally, fed up, Jesus told him, “Get out of here, Satan.” So the devil left. He didn’t even put up a fight, he just obeyed and exited stage right. Could it be that easy?
Track with me for a minute. If you are a believer, you have the power of Jesus inside you. Anxiety is not from God so we can assume it’s from the devil. So if Jesus can tell him to get out, why can’t we?
I tried it. I'm not talking about a puny test run, however. Circumstances in my life started to cause melt-down anxiety one day. I felt the ‘I can’t function’ feeling come over me and before it could grip me, I took a deep breath and told it to get out. (Full confession, I may have chewed it out using a variety of colorful words and some righteous anger.) I claimed the power of Jesus and basically kicked anxiety’s *bleep.*
And it went away! It tried to come back later but, bolstered by the success of my new approach, I once again claimed the power of Jesus and told it where to go. Again, off it went. To where I neither know nor care. This new power felt great and was even a little fun.
Listen, if worry or fear or anxiety or stress seem to be the master’s of your life, or even if they just show up occasionally like a random uncle during the holiday’s, as a believer, you are stronger than you think. You, too, can kick anxiety's…well, you know. Personally, I recommend being forceful as you banish the offender from your life and body.
Try this and let me know if it’s working for you! I’ve been amazed by the results, and I hope you will be, too. The time has come for anxiety to take a long walk off a short pier. For good.
I've finally traded the most abusive, unhealthy relationship in my life for freedom. Now I’ve got to get to work undoing some of the bad habits I accrued along the way. But that’s another post for another time.