I wrote my first article on God setting me free from anxiety two weeks after my breakthrough. At that point, God tested me in the midst of my newfound freedom. I didn’t do so well at first. I wanted to write a follow-up article to encourage people who have had sustained victory in an area in their life, but then later experienced a discouraging struggle.
The immediate difference I noticed when the anxiety left was that all the little situations that would cause my heart to beat quicker didn’t bother me anymore. My heart was lighter and I felt generally joyous. At that point I hadn’t faced any legitimate issues that might cause me real stress. Then our gas went out. My husband’s attempts to keep me from freaking out fell flat. In my mind, I imagined no gas for the next month, needing to cook and shower at my in-law’s (who live, realistically, like four blocks away), and having my tight schedule and productivity routine seriously hampered by this unexpected inconvenience (which ended up only lasting about three days).
Around this time I had one of those *special* days where personal stuff with my family compounded with an extremely untimely diaper blowout and ended in me snapping at my husband, confirming my emotional failure for the day. All in all, for about five days, I lived almost as if God’s work in me had never happened. I knew I was still free, that the Holy Spirit had still blessed me, but this test I failed.
Honestly, it was a reality check. God had indeed done an amazing work in my life, but my freedom is a partnership. I can coast on the easier days, but if I’m not vigilant about my heart and my attitude, when things get hard, I can fall back into bad habits. After realizing, this, I determined to remain watchful every moment of every day. You know, it’s kind of silly, but when my kids are all screaming at me and I feel the urge to slip into panic mode, sometimes I just start singing loudly, Not for them. Probably just makes them more angry that they think I’m ignoring them. But it’s a pretty good way to focus me on truth. No, my kids aren’t dying. No, I’m not helpless to remedy the overdramatic situation. Yes, it will be over in a few minutes.
Another point that I conceded was that I needed to be constantly in prayer, as much as possible. My morning devotions are amazing, and do wonders for my day. But it needs to keep coming. My meditation focus is crucial. What am I thinking about, all day? It basically boils down to walking in the Spirit. If you want the fruit of the Spirit (love, joy peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control – things every mom needs desperately) you have to walk in the Spirit, which means you have to spend serious time in prayer. I know you don’t have time. But I guarantee you, if you lose sleep to spend time with God, He will make sure you have the energy to make it through the day. And pray while you’re in the shower (you know, those special days), washing the dishes, folding laundry, any time when your yappy child takes a break to rest her vocal chords (there are minutes here and there). This will transform you and help you walk in victory.
I’ve been doing short journal entries basically to keep track of how I’ve been managing my anxiety. After my last failed test, I had a few days to breathe where the sky didn’t cave in. Then my kids got sick and Jac got diagnosed with a double ear infection. I used to have serious dread of the ear infection. Jac had a six month stretch or so when he was younger where he had four or so. Every time he would get sick I would worry it was an ear infection, because those are the worst! The poor kids are absolutely miserable, it usually takes a few days until you realize what’s going on, and then several more days for the antibiotics to make a difference, and this whole time, no one’s sleeping, which, of course, has been one of my major anxieties. This time, I’m proud to say, I was so chill about it. Very calm, even though I had to wake him up from his nap to take him and his siblings to pick up his antibiotics. No big deal, right? The Holy Spirit and me, working together to produce the fruit of the Spirit in my life. You can do it. Even after you fail, remember “for the righteous falls seven times and rises again,” pick yourself up, spend time in God’s presence, discipline your mind and your habits, and emerge victorious again.