dealing with anxiety

The Color of Anxiety

If Anxiety was a color it would be orange.

Jolting, abrasive, in-your-face, caution-cone orange. Orange like the fire that burns in my belly or, more often lately, shoots fiery bolts of pain from somewhere under my arm up across my collarbone to my chest, down around my forearm into my fingers and back up over my shoulder ending somewhere between my trapezoid and deltoid. Sharp, electric jolts from some bundle of nerves that are pinched tight, ready to explode in a thousand little needle-pricks at the barest provocation.

Anxiety is flamboyant, it waves a flag and shouts and refuses to be ignored, but it has a subtle side as well. iI can hide itself in shadows. It tucks itself into corners and lurks behind closed doors just waiting for the smallest opening. You go about your life without giving it much thought. Then it slips in like light seeping through a gap in the curtain and pools inside faster than you can imagine. Almost instantly it invades the whole room.

Anxiety knows how to shout louder than reason. It knows how to push aside what is true, what is rational, and what is comforting and stoke fear.

Anxiety knows how to isolate. It knows how to make you feel that you carry a burden you can never really share – because it weighs too heavily on others or because they never really understand. You try to explain but they can’t hear what you’re saying. You say, “Anxiety” and they hear, “Stressed. Worry-wart. Over-dramatic.”

“You’re being ridiculous.” “You need to let things go.” “You should stop worrying.” “You need to trust God more.” And they are right. And they are wrong. And either way and both ways they make you feel more alone.

Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

I don’t know how to choose peace. When my chest gets tight and my heart races and I feel like I can’t breathe, I don’t know how to choose peace over fear. I don’t know how to find peace when a sudden, unexpected burst of panic hits me. I don’t even know if I can.

Instead, I find myself praying for Peace to find me.

“Give peace, O Lord, in our days because there is no one else who will fight for us If not You, our God.”