Have you ever been around a loud chip getter? Notice my choice of words. I didn’t say loud chip eater. Chips are crunchy and I expect there to be some level of noise when someone is eating them. What bothers me is the sound the bag makes when they are retrieving the chips.
Rustling. Crackling. Crumpling. And totally annoying. I would put it on my list of top five horrible sounds. Right under children whining and people who talk while brushing their teeth.
The other night my husband was eating chips. Clearly he was on a quest to find the perfect one because his hand was jostling in the bag for a solid 3 minutes and I ’bout came unglued. I literally threw a bowl at him, begging him to stop the madness.
There was another time in my life when I was begging God to stop the madness. Nearly eight years ago I had my first encounter with anxiety. What began as one fearful thought quickly grew into a noisy bag of chips that wouldn’t stop rustling in my head. It started when I was riding in the car. All of a sudden I felt nervous and couldn’t breathe fast enough. When I did the air felt thick. My heart was beating fast and I just wanted to get out.
What I thought was a one time incident turned into several. I would slam my imaginary brakes in the middle of traffic and scream warnings at my husband. He refused to give into my irrational behavior and drive below the speed limit as I often suggested.
I insisted it would just be easier if I drove so I wouldn’t have anxiety and he wouldn’t have to listen to me having anxiety. Every time we were together I drove. This bought me a few months.
Then one day I was driving alone and anxiety hit again. If you’ve never experienced anxiety before, stop right now and say a thankful prayer because this stuff is brutal.
I did the smartest thing I knew to do. I bought a larger vehicle. An SUV sat me up higher and I felt much safer. But only for a few months.
I have zero problem telling my husband to stop making noise with a harmless bag of chips. Yet, I listened and tolerated the lies of fear for almost a year. Why?
Because anxiety is paralyzing. It wants you to be ineffective and miserable.
I hate anxiety. I hate it’s stinking guts. The frustrating thing about fear is you can’t outsmart it. You can’t outthink it.
The only thing you can do is smother it in love.
So that’s what I did. I read and prayed and asked God to fill me up with His love.
“Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand…how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully…”
When I filled my mind with the love of God, there was no room for anxiety. I flooded my thoughts and emotions with the greatness and goodness of God, and fear was pushed out.
My car anxiety eventually went away. But throughout the years it has tried to creep back into my heart and home in other areas. I have to be intentional about kicking it out the door before it tries to move in.
If you are struggling with any form of anxiety today, I’m sorry. I know how awful and isolating it can feel. Here’s what has helped me and my family:
- Get out of bed. Don’t let fear keep you frozen.
- Tell someone. Even if you feel embarrassed.
- Flood your spirit with worship and the word.
- Identify your triggers and avoid them if possible.
I’m praying the rich love of God over your heart.