[Guest Post by Teri Antti] – Anxiety is a Gift?
I once read that true peace can only be sustained when what you say, what you believe and what you do are all the same thing.
At the time I read this anonymous quote, my thoughts, beliefs and actions were as far from being aligned as you could possible imagine. I was in a season during which my anxiety was at an all time high.
I could not leave my house.
Fear had found its way into every ounce of my being.
I was rapidly loosing the confidence to even parent my three daughters. I had a foster daughter at the time and I was even thinking that my own daughters should be in foster care!
I was a worship leader, a children’s ministry director, and a new wife battling within an incredibly unhappy remarriage.
To top it all off I was grieving over the loss of multiple loved ones that had never publicly accepted the Lord. My life was complicated and it was dark.
All I wanted was a simple path out.
An illuminated doorway, if you will, that I would walk through into peace itself.
I remember having a friend of mine drop me off in the desert at that time. I can still feel the warmth of the sun on my face as I took what seemed like the first deep breath I’d ever had. To hear the still, soft voice of God and at what price–I was desperate.
It was then that I may have taken my very first deep breath.
Having panic attacks is exhausting.
One sixty second panic attack seems equal to running a 5K but without any health benefits. Panic leaves you alone, depressed, vulnerable, and paralyzed. But listen closely–it only leaves you this way if you see it as a curse.
What if every time you had a panic or anxiety attack it actually built up some kind of strength within?
If you’d asked me three years ago what anxiety has done in my life I would have told you it has robbed me and my daughters of everything we had going; ministry opportunities, travelling, missionary work, foster parenting, musical performances, social engagements, friendships, and maybe even a stable family.
It took a fairly productive and blessed woman and mother (me), and transformed her into a wreck incapable of making one good decision.
I’m out of the darkness now.
Not healed but on my way.
I may never be completely healed til I see my Savior face to face. I now have a clear sense however that without my anxiety I would not be who I am today. Not even close.
Anxiety forced me to choose a different path in almost every area of my life.
Some would call this coping skills.
Cynics would call my choices cop outs.
I would call it choosing peace–the peace of God.
When I was a fairly well known musician in my local area–that is until I started blacking out during performances–I gave up music for awhile but eventually became so starved to express creative gift I began spending hour after hour just worshiping the Lord in my study.
I had never done that before.
I thought I was doing that before but I was merely practicing for a show or working out an arrangement under the facade of “worshiping for an audience of one.” I only learned how to worship one on one with the Savior when that was my only option. What an incredible gift I had just received.
My life has to be simple now.
Being too busy is not a choice for me anymore. Quality time with my daughters has to be calculated and planned for. Driving from point A to B cannot be taken for granted. Vacations have to be protected. Going up on a stage has to be saturated in prayer. Just my daily getting up in the morning to go to work has to begin on my knees.
My first words, each and everyday, are “Please help me Lord. I can’t do this without you. I’m terrified of the exhausting ending this day could hold. I don’t want to go through the drudging effort of pushing the anxiety envelope again. But I will if You want me to. The alternative is surely spiritual death. I have little ones depending on me. Pick me up, Lord–up off the floor–and set my feet upon the rock that is You and You alone. Make me steadfast. Give me this strange gift one more day of being completely dependent on You–utterly surrendered to Your will.
And finally, thank you, Lord, for allowing me to be in this position.
There may come a day when I feel strong again and I don’t need to beg You to get me out of bed. Do I dare say that I’m thankful for this season of desperation for You?
My weakness is made strong in You.
Teri is a mother of three daughters, 22, 19 and 13 years old. She is a professional pianist/vocalist and contemporary worship leader in the local San Diego area. She works full time at the Pine Valley Bible Conference Center as the Executive Operations Coordinator. She serves women and children as a Whole Nutrition Counselor and a Healing Touch Pracitioner. Hiking, children’s and women’s ministry and deep breathing are what fills her free time. Her daughter’s are first and her absolute passion is for the very presence of Jesus through His Word and His gently guiding touch.