I grew up going to church on Sundays and religion classes on Wednesday. My entire family was Catholic. I knew who God was, but I didn't have an intimate relationship with him. In fact, I was sure that as long as I was a "good person" I would go to heaven. God was a compartment of my life, but He wasn't my whole life, He wasn't the reason for my existence. God, to me, was the almighty judge who I apologized to when I did something wrong and prayed to when things weren't going my way.
My view of God remained the same until high school, when I transferred schools and got involved in an organization called Younglife. Younglife opened my eyes to a loving, gracious God. As a freshman in high school, I dedicated my life to Christ. God was more than a chapter of my life; He became the author. I would love to say that from that point on it was happily ever after for me... but it wasn't. My relationship with God looked more like a roller coaster throughout high school. I battled emotional instability, generalized anxiety disorder, and depression, all while being homecoming queen and captain of the cheerleading squad with a spotless reputation. On the outside I seemed as if I had it all together, but no one knew that on the inside I was crumbling. I battled with these disorders weekly until college, where my disorder became a daily struggle.
God was the author of my life, but I wouldn't let Him have all of my life. I tried to fix my emotions and my thoughts on my own. I found ways to cope and control my negative thoughts and my anxiety attacks. Eventually it was so crippling that I couldn't leave my dorm, I couldn't go to events with friends or try new things, out of fear. Fear that someone would find out, that I would look weak, that people wouldn't want to be my friend, or fear that someone would see me in my weakest moments (an anxiety attack). I tried everything; counselors, psychologists, breathing routines, until the only option was medicine. I was angry at God many nights, asking Him... Why am I like this? Will I be like this forever? What's the point of life if I am going to deal with this every single day?
I questioned my life until one night I was so caught up in my anxiety that it led me into a spiraling panic attack, so crippling it landed me in the hospital. It started in my fingertips, my toes, and spread throughout my whole body; I was having a heart attack I thought... blacking out, hyperventilating, vomiting. That's when I knew it had gone too far. "I can't live like this, God, what do I do?"
So there I was a freshman in college, at a turning point in my life. I could choose to let go, give God control and allow Him to be my savior in every aspect of my life and let Him be the solution to my problem... Or I could continue trying to "fix" myself, continue to search for solutions other than Him and keep holding on to the bondage. Unfortunately it took me until I was at the end of my rope, until I had exhausted all other options, sitting in the ER, before I realized that God sent His only son to die for me, my fears, my failures, my anxiety, ALL of me.
I wish I could say that I don't continue to struggle with anxiety and depression, because I do. But God gave me a new life with freedom and purpose. God never said that following Him would be easy, but He does say that it is worth it. And it's worth it. I chose to say no to Satan's lies and say yes to God and His truths. Without God I am nothing; He restored my life, and breaks all of my chains. "Christ alone is my cornerstone, in my weakness, He makes me strong. Through the storm, He is Lord, Lord of ALL." God is bigger than my anxiety and God is bigger than my fears. I choose God. I memorize and cling to verses like these to help me remember God’s truth about me and fight back when Satan feeds me lies.
Psalm 23, Psalm 46:10, Exodus 10:10, Psalm 139:24, Ephesians 4:6, Hebrews 12:1-2