Here I am, sitting in the sacred sanctuary of a church, and I can feel it in the back of my throat, this anxiety, and I can’t explain it or point to one thing that’s causing it; I can only feel how it’s making it hard to breathe, every moment.
All those pieces of life just kept piling, this thing and that passion and all these boys, and suddenly I couldn’t breathe.
So much anxiety, too much anxiety, about what must be done and how to balance work and dream and family, and why, why, why can’t I just let it go?
I sit here, writing, and I wonder how many there are like me, walking with their “I’m-fine” masks, but there, underneath, gasping for air.
There is no shame here, these words float all around me, in the music and the praying and even the silence.
I’ve felt the shame, the way their eyes say God should be enough, the way they say God would never give us more than we could handle, the way we must work, work, work to break free of the dark.
“Cast your cares upon me,” those are God’s words, and so we try, try, try, but they come back in that chest burn and that throat rock and those full-body flushes, and we wonder what could be wrong with us, why God is not enough here.
“He works all things for good,” those are His words, too, and this is supposed to give us hope, and maybe it does, for a time, until that heart starts fluttering and that chest starts clenching, and we wonder what kind of faith this is that can’t believe enough or do enough or be enough.
We will walk through ashes and fire and raging waters, and we will never be overcome, but how do we do it in the thick of it all, when all those weights and walls and cages we can’t even see are pressing in on us, and what is wrong with us that we cannot choose joy in this life?
How do we break free?
How I want to do it on my own because I am stronger than this, because I cannot accept failure here, because what will they all think?
That whisper moves again, soft and gentle. There is no shame here.
There is no shame in getting help.
There is no shame in seeing we can’t do it alone anymore.
There is no shame in saying, I need a new heart.
Sometimes the dark of anxiety, the way it leads us to surrender and give-up and help, is the only way to a new heart, the only way back to joy.
“I will plant a new heart and a new spirit inside of you. I will take your stubborn, stony heart and give you a willing, tender heart of flesh,” Ezekiel says (36:26).
So tonight I let that music cover me and I offer all the anxiety of my heart and I seal it with one word.
And then more:
And if not, help.
Because there is no shame here.