Last night driving home my heartbeat was tap-tap-tapping against my chest like a crazed woodpecker. I rolled my eyes and thought, “Hello, anxiety, my old friend.”
And the truth is, anxiety is a long-time companion of mine. As a child it gave me inexplicable stomach aches. The doctors ran tests and finally chalked it up to stress. I used to hide out in the bathroom because being alone and quiet made my anxiety better. I have two small dimples on the inside of my cheeks where I’ve bitten down on them for years when I get nervous. I sweat when I have intense conversations–positive or negative. I own several books on social anxiety. Yep.
Those who know me personally would probably be surprised to hear me say all of this. I sometimes get told, “You seem so calm and like you’ve got it all together.” That always makes me want to burst into laughter (or tears) and never ceases to shock the living daylights out of me.
Through the years my anxiety has gotten a lot better. And, recently, I’ve begun to even see it as an essential part of who I am.
BEING IN “ALERT” MODE
My anxiety may make it hard to walk into a party sometimes…but it also tunes me into everyone there. I’ve got an emotional thermometer inside me that detects even the slightest shift in mood. That makes me sensitive. It helps me write and counsel. If a big part of anxiety is really just our bodies being in “alert” mode, then I would miss a lot if I never struggled with it.
I’m starting to see that my strengths are very closely tied to what I might label as “weaknesses.” For example, sensitivity = strength, anxiety = weakness. But I wouldn’t have one without ever having the other. Perhaps it’s really just about focusing on the parts that are helpful and letting the other stuff go.
Scripture says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” Philippians 4:6. To me that means I’m not supposed to let anxiety win. I’m to hand it over to God and say, “Please take care of this and turn it into something useful.” In other words, redeem this part of me I wish was different.
BEAUTIFUL IN HIS SIGHT
This has been on my mind a lot lately, and I can’t help thinking that one of you needs to hear it. So if it’s you, then know that the thing you keep asking God to remove may actually be beautiful in His sight and a part of His plan when you offer it to Him. Redemption doesn’t mean getting rid of who we are; it means transforming everything about us to be more like Jesus.
You really are wonderfully made…all of you.
Wall Street Journal Bestselling Author and Life Coach
Holley loves humans, words, and good coffee. She is a Wall Street Journal bestselling author, licensed counselor, and life coach. She imagines a world where we all become who we're created to be, use our strengths to serve, and grow for a lifetime. Holley cofounded the groundbreaking blogging community (in)courage and cohosts the popular podcast More Than Small Talk. Her newest release is The Powerful Purpose of Introverts: Why the World Needs You to Be You. Find out more and connect with Holley at holleygerth.com.
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