I find myself struggling again to take a deep breath. My lungs feel shallow; my chest and neck muscles are fatigued from the effort. I keep trying, and by the sixth breath, it finally catches and I can draw all the air in. That single breath feels good, but I know the cycle will continue all day long. I try to ignore the discomfort and move about my day, but it is always there in the background, reminding me that even breathing is overwhelming.
Surprisingly, nothing is wrong with my lungs. My body is as healthy, fit and strong as it could be for a mom in her late 30s. But after nearly two years of constant turbulence for our family, anxiety has crept its way in, wrapping itself around my lungs and choking me with nearly every breath. We’ve endured a pandemic, constantly changing school situations, forest fire evacuations, severe ice storms, lengthy power outages, selling our home and moving to a new state, building a new home, living in an RV, running a business, coaching hundreds of other moms and I could go on …
As the mom, I have kept my chin up through it all. I want to be strong for my kids and help all of us navigate through these stormy waters with confidence. But on the inside, the physical effects of my underlying anxiety are having a heyday.
Lately, I have been clawing my way to Bible verses that comfort and soothe my anxious soul. I keep coming back to a familiar one in 1 Peter 5:7 (NIV):
Cast all your anxieties on him because he cares for you.
All on its own this verse is so good. But we need to keep reading …
A couple sentences later in verse 10, it says, And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you (ESV). In other words, because he deeply cares about you, an exchange can be made — your crippling anxiety thrown on him in exchange for his personal restoration, confirmation, strength and firm footing.
I feel another breath coming on, threatening to strangle my lungs, and this time I quietly recite these comforting words. The air pulls in deep and fills every corner. Closing my eyes in that small moment, I feel just enough peace and strength to keep going.
- When you are anxious and overwhelmed, how can you feel it affecting your physical body?
- God says that he will restore, confirm, strengthen and establish you. Which of those four words can you cling to the most during anxious and overwhelming moments?
Megan Dahlman (strong-mommas.com)