THE GIANT OF Anxiety
My husband Brandon and I have looked up to Pastor Louie Giglio of Passion City Church for some time now. He leads what is probably the greatest movement of college students in the nation, Passion Conference, and we love his heart for universities and for equipping young adults to be men and women of faith. So when he released his latest book, Goliath Must Fall, it was pretty much a no-brainer for me to preorder a copy. What I did not anticipate, however, was the profound impact this book would have on my life.
Being vulnerable - I struggle tremendously with anxiety and depression. In fact, the last six months of my life have been among the darkest I’ve faced in 27 years. I’ve found myself consumed with a crushing anxiety that not only impacts me physically, but debilitates me spiritually. The anxiety stems from fear, and when allowed to simmer in my spirit it evolves into soul-crushing depression. I’ve allowed it to overwhelm me more times than I’d like to admit. There are days when the anxiety becomes so paralyzing that I feel incapable of even existing. None of this is easy for me to admit. I’ve dealt with this privately, with the help of my husband and a Christian mental health professional. But it’s not something I’ve really cared to share publicly. After all, I’m supposed to be a Pastor. I’m supposed to be full of faith. I’m supposed to be able to fight this.
So you can imagine what a breath of fresh air it was to read that Pastor Louie struggles with the same thing I do. He writes with great vulnerability what he has battled through personally, and speaks of how deeply the thorn of anxiety tormented him. There’s great comfort to be found in hearing someone say “me too”, and knowing you’re not the only one.
But beyond just providing a sense of solidarity, this book equipped me with a wealth of encouragement, challenges, and reminders of who my God is. Goliath Must Fall is a book written about the finished work of Christ on the cross - and how we must live from a place of understanding that our giant - whatever it may be in your own life - is already dead.
For me, sometimes anxiety attacks feel almost inevitable. They feel so enormous and so certain, like a dark heavy rain cloud in the sky that is making its way to me, and I feel weak and helpless as I watch the cloud close in. In my mind, it feels like the rain is coming, and there’s nothing I can do to stop it. I’m learning about myself that when I get an anxiety attack, my tendency is to allow it, let myself become worked up, and eventually end up in a pool of hot tears, curled in a fetal position and shaking on the floor in my closet. I’ve been there too many times. It’s not who I want to be.
When I look at the picture of how I want my life to be, I see myself as an older woman who has raised strong, godly, confident children. I envision my home as being a place of refuge and peace, where my children are always comfortable to bring their friends, and their friends always feel a sense of stability, warmth, and welcome. I desire for my children to view me as a pillar of faith, a model of godly confidence, totally at peace and living in complete security and faith that comes from knowing that my God has my back. I want my children to think of me when the storms of life hit them, and I want their faith to be strengthened by the example that I set throughout their lives.
When I cave into anxiety, I am not that woman.
This book has honestly been a turning point for me. It helped me put a name to my giant - anxiety. And from there, I have been able to address what is happening in an appropriate manner. You guys, this stuff is heavy. It’s far too heavy for us to carry on our own. And what I’m learning is that our savior is watching us struggle with tears in his eyes and willing arms extended, desperate to take the load off our shoulders. But too often, we ignore his offer to carry our burden, because we feel that if we don’t carry it ourselves, nothing will get done about it. How arrogant and foolish! I love what Pastor Louie says in this book: “The solution is not more determination. The solution is FAITH.” We don’t need to keep pushing, striving, fixing. We just need to trust that our God can.
I won’t say that I’m healed. I won’t say that I’m freed from anxiety completely. I won’t say that I don’t have low moments of despair. But I will say that I’m learning, as Pastor Louie writes, to “fix my eyes on the size of my God, not the size of my giant.” Anxiety is a tricky beast. I’m realizing that so many people struggle with it. I could hypothesize that the fast-paced, high-intensity culture that we live in might have something to do with it. But let’s be honest about the real root of anxiety - Satan, the enemy of our souls. He is clever. He uses good things like success and drive and ambition and manipulates them to cause us to feel like we can’t keep up, like we’re not doing enough, like we’re behind, like we’re failures. But what’s crazy is, he has no standing. The fight is already over. Jesus already defeated sin at the cross. Goliath has fallen.
I write this today from a perspective of humility, knowing and understanding that I truly have not quite figured out how to live completely free of anxiety. But I want to encourage anyone else who may be dealing with the same thing. First, there’s freedom found in vulnerability. Just like how I was comforted and encouraged by Pastor Louie’s vulnerability, I pray that someone else may be comforted and encouraged by mine. And in turn, I pray they allow themselves the grace to be vulnerable with those around them. Second, there’s hope found in Jesus. I’d encourage anyone dealing with fear, depression, and anxiety to read this book. It has helped me. It has equipped me. And I want others to gain perspective in their dark seasons, as well.
Hebrews 12:2-3 The Message
Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!