You Are Not A Burden | Rivers and Roads

6.26.2019

You Are Not A Burden

I saw this image from Morgan Harper Nichols a few weeks ago and immediately started crying because it was a truth I needed to hear. For a very long time I struggled with feeling like a burden to everyone around me because of the burdens I lived with. I am still working on believing the truth of this statement, but it helps to repeat it to myself. I wish someone had said these words to me sooner, so I wanted to share them with you in case they are the words you need to set you free.

Today we're chatting about anxiety because it's real, it's pretty terrible, it doesn't fight fair, and people don't talk about it or acknowledge it enough.

Why is that? Maybe because struggling with anxiety makes us feel weak. Or we feel like our problems are "too much" for someone else to know about. Or we don't think anyone else will understand.

I get it. It's an incredibly vulnerable thing to open up about personal struggles. You're scared of what people might say or think. You wonder if they'll treat you differently once they know. And if people walk away from you...honey, you didn't need those kinds of people in your life anyway. Find people who stay, even if the only person is your therapist. But if I know anything about Jesus, I know He's going to give you the exact people you need to walk through this with you.

Everyone's anxiety presents itself in different ways. Some experience it mentally and some physically. I know letting the anxiety build up inside of me makes me physically ill. I can't eat and eventually, I also can't sleep, and I definitely can't think straight. So you might say when it comes to anxiety, I really hit the jackpot getting both the mental and physical aspects.😉I know, I'm such an overachiever.

Two years ago, this started to kill me, although we didn't know what "this" was for a while. It happened so slowly that I didn't realize it, but I lost a ton of weight and my body started shutting down over the course of a year. Once I finally got to the point where I realized my need for help, I had to move back to TN for what ended up being 3 long months. After a month or two of tests and procedures, I was finally diagnosed with chronic stress and anxiety, which had caused actual medical conditions in my body that needed to be addressed. (Isn't it CRAZY what something like stress/anxiety can do to our bodies??) My doctors told me I had to find a new job as soon as possible as well as make a couple of other drastic life changes. I spent those months in TN fighting for my physical health, my mental health, and my life as I began being able to give my body the nourishment it so desperately needed.

Now I've been in counseling for over a year learning how to cope with anxiety in a healthier way. Notice I didn't say I've learned how to get rid of anxiety. I don't know if that will ever happen. I pray that it does, but I also know Jesus never promised this life would be easy. But I am learning more practical ways for me to deal with it.

One | I start praying. I usually like to pray out loud and sometimes very loud (Ha!) as soon as I start feeling anxious. I typically feel a lot of spiritual attack during seasons of anxiety, and for me, prayer is my most powerful weapon. I'll pray in the car on my way to work, I'll go on a walk so I can pray alone, or I'll ask my husband to pray for me.

Two | I talk to a trusted friend as soon as the anxiety starts. Talking doesn't always make it go away, but it brings your fears out of the darkness and into the light. It strips the anxiety's power over you. You guys, satan preys on us by whispering our worst fears and lies we've chosen to believe. And he wants us to feel isolated. To feel alone. To feel helpless. Speaking the fear out loud helps get it out of my mind, slowing the spiral my brain had begun. So find a friend, call a parent, talk to your spouse, and no matter how "crazy" or irrational your fear seems, say it out loud, and let your person (whoever they are) speak truth to you and pray over you.

Three | I turn on some music. This might seem silly, but if you turn on some worship music and sing along, your brain doesn't have a lot of time to think about all the dark and scary things trying to bring you down. It seriously does calm my mind and slows my heartbeat in moments of panic.

Thankfully, I have been given an incredible husband, parents, and friends who listen to me and pray for me when anxiety settles in. I don't think most of them understand all parts of it, and that's okay. They would have to experience it to fully know it, and I wouldn't wish that on anyone. But they still show up and offer help when I need it most. That's all I can ask for.

Remember that the burdens you carry do not make you a burden to others. As believers, we are called to bear one another's burdens. And we are also told to cast our anxieties on Jesus. You are fully known and fully loved by a God who gave everything for you. So don't you dare sit there and think He's left you when you're in the midst of a panic attack or barely able to sleep or eat for weeks on end. He is sitting right next to you, holding your hand, rubbing your back, and reminding you that He will never leave you or forsake you.

You are valuable and worthy of love no matter what you are dealing with. We live in a broken world, guys. Every single one of us carries many burdens, and it will be that way until Jesus comes back to fulfill the promise He made to make all things new -- that includes you.