My Story of Overcoming Anxiety
I know what it’s like to struggle with anxiety.
Before I dive into my story, I want to share a few, likely familiar, verses to remind us all what God’s Word says about this topic.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:6-7).
Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you (1 Peter 5:6-7).
If we truly believed and practiced these verses, our anxiety should melt away. But even though I could quote these verses, it just didn’t seem to help my feelings of anxiety. Can you relate?
My anxiety struggle started shortly after college. I majored in English education, and after graduation I was hired to teach freshmen in high school. I could not have been more excited to embark on the journey ahead!
But after the first day of school, something inside my mind snapped. I was completely overcome with anxiety. As the teacher, I was now in charge; all the students looked at me. I had to maintain control and always be expected to have the right answer. The pressure I felt proved overwhelming. I threw up every morning for two weeks and barely slept. After an extremely fervent prayer from my mom and family, I was able to stop vomiting and get myself together enough to function. However, I didn’t want to just function; I wanted to thrive.
The months passed, and I was still plagued with anxious feelings. I began to wonder if I would have to quit the job I knew I was called to do in order to have a “good,” anxiety-free life again.
Our Kingdom Authority
Divinely, I was invited to attend church with a college friend in Georgia.
Her pastor was teaching about the authority Christians have in Christ. He reminded us that through the Holy Spirit, we have the power within us to face any situation head-on and that wherever we go as Christians, we have “kingdom authority.”
In 2 Peter 1:3-4, Paul preaches a similar sermon stating:
His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.
My friend’s pastor went on to list many times and situations in which people feel powerless. At one point, he said, “When you walk into that classroom, you have kingdom authority.”
Maybe he was saying this for the students in the room, but I immediately related it to being a teacher. In that moment, something changed. It was as though I suddenly believed I could overcome my feelings. I thought, I have the power of God within me. Why am I afraid? I went to the altar and prayed that I could always walk in the authority I have as a child of God.
The next day I went to work, took a deep breath, and began anew. The anxiety didn’t go away completely for a few months, but I knew that I was going to make it. When I felt anxiety creep up, I would say to myself that I had the authority from God wherever I went, and those anxious feelings would fade.
The Freedom Is Real
I tell you this story in hopes that it will help someone who reads it overcome anxiety. I believe that Satan would love nothing more than for you to continue to suffer. The freedom you have in God is as real as the feelings of panic that may be so familiar for you.
Galatians 5:1 says, “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.”
Christ set us free so that we could live free. Yes, free from sin and punishment, but also free from the anxiety He commands us to cast upon Him.
I pray that if anyone reading this suffers with anxiety, that my story will soon be your story about how you left it behind and walked in the power of God. In fact, I invite you to see the end of this post as a virtual altar of sorts. You are free to pray like I did—that you can walk in the kingdom authority granted to you as a child of God.
Do you struggle with anxiety? Do you believe God’s promise that freedom is possible?
By Sarah Garrett