For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers,
against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Ephesians 6:12 KJV
Before I share the details of my spiritual battle with anxiety, I have to make something as clear as I possibly can. In doing so, I hesitate to use words like “never” or “always” because there (always) seems to be one or two exceptions to the rule. Instead, I will say ALMOST NEVER is there a situation in a person’s life that is entirely mental or completely emotional or only physical. There is ALMOST ALWAYS a component of something spiritual at work as well. The opposite is true as well. There is ALMOST NEVER a situation in a person’s life that is purely spiritual but will also consist of something mental, emotional or physical occurring at the same time. God made us to operate that way, as a multi-faceted human being made in His image. So, whenever we are dealing with people in any context, we have to keep in mind their whole being—mental, emotional, physical and spiritual. It is also true with anxiety. Anxiety is not just about renewing the mind and developing a new belief system. Anxiety is not just an emotional issue to overcome. Anxiety is not just about releasing energy through exercise and learning to control your breathing. Anxiety is not just a spiritual issue to somehow work out in your quiet time. It is all of those things being brought into submission and surrender before the Lord, seeking Him for the healing and freedom that is needed in every facet of our lives. With that in mind, let me begin sharing the spiritual aspect of my battle against anxiety.
As I’ve stated before, I have dealt with an underlying anxiety my whole life, with several major flare-ups occurring after our son Nathan died. Eventually, I had enough experience with it, that when it would flare, I would use the same tools discussed previously to battle it. Several times, I was not able to get it under control on my own and needed to seek counsel and go back on medication, but with each flare-up, I would eventually be able to rein it in and put it behind me. That is, until my last major bout with anxiety.
When the nibbles of anxiety began that last time, I admit I was perhaps a bit overly confident. I had battled anxiety so many times and for so long, and with eventual success, I honestly figured I would just do it again. However, the tools I had practiced and used so effectively in the past had minimal, if any, affect. I then decided it was time to go back on medication. I had one particular drug of choice that had worked great for me in the past. I started taking it and it did nothing for the anxiety. I was rather surprised and more than a little disappointed but the doctor explained since I had used it a number of times in the past, maybe it was no longer effective for me. He simply prescribed something else. I started taking the new med and my anxiety got worse. We then tried yet another drug. I took it just before bedtime and, as I lay in the bed, I literally felt like I had flames shooting out of my head. I don’t know how else to describe it. I felt as if I were coming undone and going to fly into a million pieces! I had no choice but to ride it out. Needless to say, I didn’t take that pill again! If you know anything about anxiety, as you might have guessed, I then became anxious about taking medication and just could not bring myself to try anything else for fear of what it would do to my anxiety. Clearly, I was still very much living in a stronghold of anxiety and was only experiencing reprieves. I wanted it gone! I was doing everything I knew to do. I had to be missing something.
I had certainly included many spiritual components as I focused on the emotional, mental and physical aspects of my anxiety. God, His Word, prayer and renewing my mind were instrumental in the success I had experienced previously in battling my anxiety. But it kept coming back. Success was only temporary. What was I missing? This is where I learned some of my greatest lessons in battling anxiety. Yes, I would need to continue implementing the tools I had learned to use in my previous battles with anxiety. However, with this bout, I would learn anxiety was not my real enemy. My real enemy is satan and if I want to be truly free from the stronghold of anxiety (or any other stronghold, for that matter), I was going to need to learn how to engage in the battle with him and fight back. I could not…would not continue to allow myself to live in continual defeat. It was big talk. I had no idea what I was up against. Praise God, I had Someone Who did!!!!