I’m really, really happy right now.
I have been for a while now. 2014 has been incredible so far. I have made plans for the summer, made tough decisions, written kick-butt college essays, and started rehearsals for Beauty & the Beast, which means my extraverted heart is feeling well-fed with social interaction. Honestly, I have felt truly full, perhaps for the first time since last May.
Back then, somewhere around the middle of the month, I cracked. I shattered under the IB Diploma program workload, the SOLs, the friendship problems and loneliness during Hairspray rehearsals, the impending doom of my brother graduating and leaving. One minor emergency sent me over the edge and into the Pit of Despair, otherwise known as one horrible week of anxiety attacks. I eventually figured out how to curb those (never underestimate the power of counting backwards from 100 by threes), but the general anxiety remained.
It followed me all over the country that summer – to California, to Colorado, to Michigan, even to West Virginia. I tried talking about it to some people, but none of my friends truly knew how to relate. I cried all the time. I was exhausted of it; I was angry and bitter that I had to live in this state of constant fear while the people around me could simply go about life as normal and not be full of those terrifying questions: Who am I? Am I a Christian? Is God there? Does he love me? Is He going to heal me? Am I going to die? What if I go crazy? What if I am already crazy?
It was the worst summer, and started out as an equally bad school year, but then…I got better. And better, and better still. And I had my ups and downs, but was on an upward climb. And now I’m really, really happy.
It was horrible. Anxiety is horrible. But sometimes I miss it.
I find it a bit hilarious when non-believing people say things like, “If God is so good, then why does He allow bad things to happen?”
Because firstly, it is we who cause the bad things to happen, not God. He loved us enough to give us a free will so we could choose to love Him and do good, not just be God-loving robots. And, since the beginning of time itself, we have made choices to turn away from God and allow evil to come into the world through us. It’s an abusive relationship, the one between us and God. We wreck His creation and we use God as an arguing tool instead of worshiping Him, and because of all the sin we’ve caused Satan has some realm on the earth. Satan can whisper temptations and lies into our minds and we can choose to believe them. It’s us. Not God.
And secondly, and more importantly to my point, God takes the badness in the world and redeems it. He is good because He takes our brokenness and makes it beautiful.
Those 4-ish months I struggled against the spiritual attacks of anxiety and depression on my mind were interesting ones. I was fighting. I didn’t give up initially, solely because I still wanted to go to college (Super dumb reason, I know, but whatever works…), and in my efforts not to give up, I…paid attention to God. Perhaps for the first time ever. It was the first time that I truly recognized how much I needed Him to even survive, let alone experience happiness again.
My relationship with Him thrived. It really did. Every time I started feeling the weight of anxiety on me, I’d go straight into Psalms and circle God’s promises to me. Over and over and over. He would save me. He would keep me in perfect peace. He would hear me when I called. He would be my portion, He would be my shield. So many promises that I so desperately needed to hear. I tested the idea that praise beats pain and would sing worship songs to myself when I started feeling depressed. Sometimes, on days home alone where the evil seemed to abound in me, I would go down to the piano and bang out the chords to Amazing Grace until I drowned out the negativity in my mind.
I don’t do those things anymore, because there are no more depressive thoughts guiding my days at this point in my life. It is both happy and sad. I don’t want to be anxious ever again. But I do look back on those days when I hung on to God because I needed Him so badly, when my pride didn’t get in the way of my aching need for His love in my life.
In moments like this when I remember how things used to be, I will remember to keep reading His Words and keep singing His praises, because He deserves it whether we recognize it or not, whether we are happy or sad. And He is always there for us, no matter how much or how little we understand our need for Him.
He is good.