(If you didn’t read part 1, it’s here.)
“When the storm clouds rise
And the sky is dark
And I’m pressed with anxious care
I’ve a safe retreat in the strong, high tower
For no ill can harm me there”
We all have normal levels of anxiety. A certain amount of stress is healthy. For me, in middle school mine was my crush finding out I liked him. In high school, it was being embarrassed in front of peers, or realizing I forgot to do my homework. Now, it might be that I’m running late to lunch plans or not getting my charting done at work in time.
But for the past year and a half, my response to certain situations in my life has been a little less than normal. A heavier, more impactful level of anxiety has made quite a presence in my life, shifting my relationships, my thought processes, and overall well-being.
“When the lightnings flash
And the thunders roar
And the storms in fury be
When they seem so sure to engulf my soul
Then I’ll hide in Your safe retreat”
Sometimes I worry about small things, like having to prepare a bible study lesson and having no clue what to talk about. And sometimes they’re bigger, like having family members who aren’t talking to each other, or not being able to explain to a doctor what’s going on with my patient. But no matter what it is, big or small, I freak out. I set really high expectations for myself. When it comes to my knowledge, my capabilities, my friendship — I want to be the best at all of it. But when I can’t be, and when I don’t meet those same expectations for other people, I panic. My thoughts race all day, my heartbeat quickens, and I become at a loss for words. I make excuses and back out of plans, I forget important information, and sweat through all my clothes… I lose my appetite, or I overeat. Sometimes, I don’t want to leave my bed. These things feel so sure to engulf my soul.
Often, I feel so silly for the way I feel. I think about the dilemmas of our universe and measure up my tiny grains of anxiety to those huge grains, hoping it would make me feel better. But invalidating my feelings only makes it worse. Brushing it off and not talking about it with people has only proven to be the worst medicine.
“Soon the storms will pass
And the sky will clear
And my rest be calm and sweet
I will trust and wait with no anxious fear
For I’ll hide in Your safe retreat”
To know that God is in the midst of it all brings an indescribable peace. When life is throwing curve balls and heavy storms, He’s right there with me. He doesn’t watch me struggle and say “Alright, enough with the water works. Move on already”. His heart breaks when I’m sad. He meets me where I’m at, and gives me enough grace to bring me through it. And He gets pumped when I’m joyful.
Skies may not always be clear, and rest may not always be restful, but He is a safe haven where anxiety and fear can be eradicated. Even though camping out in this little tent of safety feels uncertain, it’s the best deal from the best Source. So I will trust and wait.
(Song lyrics from “Safe Retreat” by King’s Kaleidoscope.)