on anxiety and other “less-than-spiritual” realities

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I’m jolted awake in the middle of the night. I don’t know exactly what woke me, but I do know my heart is pounding so fiercely that for a moment I wonder if it might collide with my chest wall hard enough to make it just… quit.

Is this a panic attack?

I’ve had a few mild ones in the past but none quite this intense. I don’t know if I’ve ever felt so fragile.

I lie quiet, trying to still my racing thoughts. I take deep breaths and will my heart rate back to normal. I pray silent 3- and 4-word prayers on repeat.

After a while, I’m calm enough to sleep again. But a couple hours later, it’s the same song, second verse.

The next morning I’m worn plumb out, which makes everything feel more acute. The kids’ scuffles and needs, my headaches, my to-do’s.

I’m way too easily overwhelmed. I think I’m “triggered.” Raw. Like, I’ve kind of been living in that zone the last few weeks.

Jesus works inside us in all these cyclical layers, and at the moment, he seems to be doing several layers’ worth of heart surgery all at once.

I’m intermittently flooded with memories from past abusive situations (to be clear, I’m talking emotional and spiritual abuse, not physical). I’m periodically overcome by regret, recalling countless decisions made out of fear (as opposed to following what I knew the Holy Spirit had put in my heart) while in said situations.

Years-old choices that have impacted my family. Impacted my soul.

I’m still discovering ways I lost my voice, lost the ability to listen to my gut, to take my discernment seriously. I’m realizing anew that so much of the time, the Spirit speaks through my intuition, and it’s not that I’m inerrant by any stretch of the imagination, but just that He lives inside me and, in His kindness, is perpetually redeeming my instincts.

I’m learning how to listen to His whispers again.

There were years — years — that I shoved the thoughts that made me uncomfortable, thoughts that might make others uncomfortable, thoughts I feared would rock the boat.

I’ve got to be wrong. I’m missing something. Stay quiet, Dana. They certainly know better than you do.

And all those years of ignoring my gut and shoving my intuition? They were costly. I’m realizing more and more that it will take years — and lots of gut-wrenching internal work with Jesus — to fully recover. To locate and integrate the lost pieces of my self.

{Interjection: Thanks for grace, my friends, while I once again write at a heart level without explaining external circumstances. I’m not ready to talk specifically about these pieces of my history in this space yet.}

I’m humbled these days, y’all. So, so acutely aware of my weakness. I’m laying my raw soul bare before Jesus, my husband, my close friends. I’m talking through memories. Praying through them. Sometimes weeping through them.

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*****

One of the most damaging mentalities I’ve seen here and there within the evangelical church is this implied (or sometimes even spoken outright) idea that if a person is experiencing anxiety or another emotion that we tend to deem negative, they’re “not in faith.” They must be in some type of sin, not trusting Jesus enough, not correctly applying the truth of scripture to their circumstances, etc.

Basically, their spirituality isn’t up to par, and in order to really follow Jesus, in order to not be ruled by our emotions, we must reject emotions that “don’t line up with truth.”

But here’s what I’m forever learning: these emotions that we tend to think of as “negative?” They are actually just human. God made us human. With vulnerability to being hurt. With susceptibility to fear. With emotional responses to pain.

And He made us this way, with all this vulnerability, because it’s in the painful, raw, weak places that we can most uniquely, deeply, tangibly encounter His heart and experience His strength.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. –1 Corinthians 12:9

Anxiety and trauma and regret have been so close to the surface for me lately, and in years past, my instinct might’ve been to pretend they didn’t exist, because they make me feel — or appear? — less spiritual.

But I’m finding that as I acknowledge my raw state before the Father, bringing all my trauma and grief before His throne as authentic pieces of my current reality, there is healing. There’s peace. There are restoration and integration and courage, a little bit at a time.

I’m finding wholeness in Him as I quit shoving and ignoring my emotions, and bring the entirety of my right-now self into His embrace. {Not just the parts of me that feel spiritual or faith-filled or presentable.}

And most of all? There’s His presence. He is close to the brokenhearted (Psalm 34:18), and of course He’s near all the time, but there’s a uniqueness to His nearness in seasons like these, and it is profoundly sweet. It’s balm to my soul.

He is tender and kind in all of my past, all of my present, and all of my future. He works all things together for the good of those who love Him, even when we make decisions we later regret. He is faithful to continue the work He’s begun. His processes inside us are gentle, trustworthy, thorough.

He’s a God of extravagant healing and redemption. So while I’m still in process, while I still have quite a distance to go toward wholeness in all these broken places, I can sit quietly here today and declare it, and believe it to my very core:

So, so great is His faithfulness.

The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases;

his mercies never come to an end;

they are new every morning;

great is your faithfulness.

-Lamentations 3:22-23

Thanks, my friends, for being with me, for bearing witness to my journey, for loving Him alongside me. I love you guys.

This entry was posted in anxiety, Attending to His Presence, Encountering God in the Messy, Learning Authenticity, misc. walking with Jesus. Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to on anxiety and other “less-than-spiritual” realities

  1. Larry Pambianco says:

    Yo my lovely sister in the Lord, Dana. So clear, cut to the bone, exact and precise, your words. Every word pregnant with another message. This is a voice that needs to be heard loud and clear for so many of your generation, for so many women. May God use you to slay the dragons you are speaking of. Such condemnation people put up with regarding faith and these “negative” emotions. Thanks for being authentically vocal about your journey. Love this sharing here. :)

  2. Becky Daye says:

    Can we just stop with the less spiritual/more spiritual thing? I just think of Jesus before he faced the cross asking that the cup be taken from him, yet we know he was without sin. Why in the world do we judge one another? Drives me nuts.
    Rant over.
    So grateful for your beautiful words and your faithfulness in sharing your heart, Dana! And I know that you might have people who think you are being overly dramatic (because I heard that when I shared my heart after what I now consider spiritually abusive situations) and I want to tell you that the only voices that truly matter are the ones who are willing to FULLY listen and to seek God’s glory WITH you. You are so loved!!
    Praying for you!!
    Becky Daye recently posted…What is Success?My Profile

    • danalynnb says:

      Becky, thank you so, so much for this. YES… He was without sin. Wholly surrendered to the Father, yet wholly *honest* with Himself and His Father about His emotions. Thanks, too, for what you said about having been accused of being overly dramatic. I hate that for you. And yup, I’ve been there. I think that’s a lot of where my fear comes from in even saying any of this stuff out loud here. Am I really just seeking attention? Blowing things out of proportion? I’m learning… slowly, in layers… that I’m not. That this stuff is real, that I’m not crazy to need to wrap words around it, etc. It’s a process.

      Anyway…. just thank you, friend. And thank you for your prayers. And just for your presence here. Much love. <3
      danalynnb recently posted…on anxiety and other “less-than-spiritual” realitiesMy Profile

  3. Tara says:

    Love you too friend! So much THIS: “They are actually just human. God made us human. With vulnerability to being hurt. With susceptibility to fear. With emotional responses to pain.” Amen. Your words are always such a gift. Praying with and for you friend.
    Tara recently posted…A Day to RememberMy Profile

  4. Dana,
    Emotions, feelings — they inform us. We get to feel our big feelings. I like what you are saying here and affirm the work you are doing.
    Carol Longenecker Hiestand recently posted…Thanksgiving 2015 – Shout to the Lord!My Profile

  5. Dawn says:

    Dana,

    This is a piece of grace you are offering, a peace branch that will lead another closer to the release and let go of those things that have kept them behind a mirror of glimpses. I know. I know this place your writing from and I love how you are wearing brave like a mantle here. I pray for grace to blanket your heart and for His love to constantly shield you as He brings you to the place where hope is active and healing takes place. Thank you for being real with your words.
    Blessings,
    Dawn
    Dawn recently posted…Soul Stop Sundays~ Isaiah 43My Profile

  6. Amber C. says:

    Dana, I continue to love and appreciate how you risk peeling back these layers of raw humanity. You write these moments with clarity, grace and courage. I am so proud of you, friend, of these hard places you keep sitting with, listening to, getting back in touch with, as you experience deeper healing with God. I love you so, so much.
    Amber C. recently posted…Bringing on thirty-fiveMy Profile

  7. Brenda says:

    Friend, I am hearing this echo in my own heart–this EXACT SAME THING– and in so many around me. I love how you remind me that we are human and God created us human with emotions and needing process in our heads and hearts!! Thank you for your words! ❤️

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