I remember the time I was on a mission trip to Latvia with two of my, then favorite college students, now very dear friends. We were teaching ESL on a farm in unseasonably warm 96 degree weather. There was a pretty little lake to swim in. During a break one day, we got our bathing suits on, slathered on some sunscreen, grabbed a beach towel, and headed to the lake.
The water was refreshing, although surprisingly murky, which is how we found out a tiny bit too late that the lake was also the habitat for thousands of leeches.
I about lost my stuff.
I had the closest thing to a panic attack I’ve ever experienced. My breath stopped mid-swim. I was sinking. I was powerless to move my arms or my legs, yet somehow I was still chopping, still kicking at the water in a hopeless, full-on flail. My eyes were wide open, but I could see nothing as I went under in those murky waters, aware of only those little black slithering creatures that I was sure were out to get me.
Then, strength and power reached down.
I felt two hands grab under my arms. There were legs kicking me to shore and the familiar voice of my friend David assuring me it was going to be okay,
“It’ll be alright. I have you. I’ve got you.”
Anything God develops for good, Satan will overdevelop for his purposes. While fear wasn’t there at Creation, God certainly gave each of us an innate sense of danger, which kicked in full throttle for me that day at the lake.
This makes fear, anxiety, and worry messy things within themselves. Add that to the murky waters of a messy life and it gets complicated quickly.
Today starts the I Love My Shepherd podcast series –
The Truth About Mental Health: Anxiety
Look for four episodes in the coming weeks:
Today, Episode 42 – Distinguishing Fear, Worry, and Anxiety
Episode 43 – Defining Anxiety: A Recontextualization
Episode 44 – Developing a Theology of Anxiety
Episode 45 – Practical Tools for Anxiety
Whether you deal with anxiety yourself, care for those who experience anxiety in your family or as a professional, or you want to be more aware of how to speak encouragement and life to people in your church and in your neighborhood, know that we are in this walk together.
God is the greater, stronger, perfect version of my friend at the lake. He reaches in and picks us up from the murky waters of life. Sometimes He rescues us from the lake, and sometimes he chooses to help us swim through the mud, but He is at work.
“I have you. I’ve got you.”
Please share your experiences with me. Tell me what you have learned on your own journey with anxiety or helping another. Again, this podcast series is not a substitute for counseling and local resources, but there is always something new to learn and I’d like to at least open a conversation.
The Truth about Mental Health –
Anxiety = the murky waters of a messy life
We will feel the intensity of this broken world at times, all of us in different ways. It’s so much better with God in the midst of it all.