Some weeks ago my husband and I posted on social media that we are “expecting” a new book on managing anxiety. The post included a fun picture of my husband signing our book contract with me holding a sign beside him that said, “It’s a Book!” The post was a bit tongue-in-cheek as far as book contract announcements go. It was as if we were winking at the camera to remind you this moment came after we dressed nicely for the picture and fixed our hair and got our daughter to take multiple shots of us so we could pick the photo that was just right.
Because you see that photo was not our reality.
If we had posted a photo of the actual moment we signed the contract, you would have seen me with bead-head and wearing my nightgown, bracing the contract on the ironing board to sign. It being the only clean surface I could find.
You might have also noticed the bags under my eyes and creases on my forehead for I did not sleep well the night before and I woke up anxious. Not because I was nervous about the book. No, I was concerned about having to drive through Atlanta rush hour traffic that day with my two teenagers and without my husband. You see our cousin was getting married in North Georgia and I was bringing the kids up after school for a weekend of wedding fun. But not before suffering through an evening of rush hour madness.
The contrast of signing a contract for a book called When Anxiety Strikes on a day when anxiety struck is not lost on me. Part of me wondered if people publishing a book on anxiety should have it more together.
But then the better part of me knew I was right where I should be.
Our upcoming book does not promise you will wake up every morning looking like roses with your anxiety magically gone. No, there are no quick fixes here.
What we do offer in our book is a slow, steady journey of healing. Healing that takes some work and some changes and some different ways of thinking. Healing that takes practice and time. Healing that lasts because once it is finished you are not the same person anymore.
You see I may still wake up anxious about driving through Atlanta rush hour traffic on a Friday evening, but now, now I can muster up the tools to actually manage my anxiety enough to do what I once could not do.
At some points in my life I would have been too anxious to even go to a weekend wedding of a cousin-in-law. At many points in my life I would have melted down in the midst of the anxiety trigger (traffic) and had to cut bait and go home.
But now when anxiety strikes I remind myself to move into deep breathing to settle my body down. I hear those thoughts of “I will never be able to make it through this” and switch my thinking to “This will pass, I will make it through.” And if all else fails to quell the anxiety, I start breathing the Jesus prayer, “Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me” until the worst is over. And the worst is over far sooner than it used to be.
So yes, I was anxious about driving through rush hour traffic in Atlanta. But now my anxiety does not stop me from living a full, rich life. Now I have the ability to manage my anxiety enough to push through to the good stuff.
When we finally arrived in Dahlonega, I stepped out of my car and took a big breath of mountain air. After my kids went inside the cabin, I sat outside for a while listening to the nearby stream and counting the stars in the sky. I soaked in all the goodness and beauty and gave thanks because for many years I would have missed this moment.
And that day, even though I got anxious at points, I didn’t miss anything.
If you are looking for a way to take back your life from the storms of anxiety, I would love to walk with you for a while through the pages of this blog and our upcoming book. The first steps we take together can be small ones, simple ones. I won’t promise that the road to healing will always be easy, but I can promise it is worth it.
Please know God does not wish for anxiety to run your life. God desires for you to experience love and life abundantly. And I do too. If you wish, we can all walk into that abundance together.