I have struggled with anxiety most of my life. The story of anxiety in my life begins probably somewhere between 1981 and 1986. Those were the years my mother battled breast cancer, eventually dying in 1986 when I was 11 years old. As best as I can remember, the onset of anxiety for me began two weeks after her death when I returned to school and was no longer capable of reading out loud in class…only stuttering. That was the day that I began to live in fear as anxiety gripped my life, but more than likely it had already begun it’s work in those previous years with the ups and downs of my mom’s struggle with breast cancer.
My anxiety has its roots in those early experiences, and like me, you probably have recollections of when anxiety began in your life. Often it can begin in childhood, especially if we have a parent who is highly anxious, or we encounter some experience to provoke anxiety. Whatever your story, anxiety may be a part of yours. Most of the research I come across these days is that anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the United States and about 18% of the U.S. population, 18 and over, suffers from some type of anxiety disorder. And more than likely the numbers are much higher than this, as that 18% probably only represents those who have gotten help.
But what I have discovered in my own journey with anxiety is that anxiety has actually become the greatest opportunity for growth for me. Rather than view it as an enemy trying to crush me, I have come to see it as a faithful friend who informs me of what is going on in the deepest recesses of my heart, soul and mind. Anxiety cues me in to when things have gone wrong and need to be corrected; anxiety often leads me to face my fears and take risks; and it often informs me of what should be of ultimate concerns in my life. In my book The Anxious Christian I explore this idea, and how God led me to see that anxiety was something he used to help me grow, to keep me moving forward and taking risks, rather than settle for a life of comfort or numbed out from what I was feeling.
In this episode:
- I share my story of anxiety and where it began for me.
- I explore the idea that anxiety can be used as a catalyst for growth in your life.
- I help you think through your own story of anxiety.
- I talk about how you can listen to your own anxiety, and how that can lead you.
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