What I Wish I’d Known About Anxiety

For years, and I’m ashamed of this, I was the guy in the room thinking, “Oh man, not another emotional staff mess to deal with.” I was 38 years old and just as stressed out and tired as anyone else (that seemed to be a pre-req for EDGE Corps at the time) but you wouldn’t catch me needing time to rest or medication! Clearly, folks who needed that kind of help weren’t trusting God enough!

In the fall of 2019, I had a Nebuchadnezzar-like experience- a sudden snap with mental illness. (see Danial 4. it’s a trip.) I’ll never forget the morning when I rolled over, opened my eyes… and inexplicably burst into terrified sobs. A beautiful sunrise teased morning light into my bedroom, where my lovely wife of almost two decades slept beside me. My three children were fast asleep in their own rooms just down the hall. But my heart responded to these blessings with despair.

Maybe you know exactly what I’m talking about; that moment when you open your eyes and suddenly the world is profoundly unsafe and you realize everything you love dies. Everything you own rots. Everything. Deep in your bones, you can feel exactly how ridiculous the hope of the resurrection is. And you can’t make it stop, not with prayer or Scripture or pleading with God.

My silent sobbing rattled my wife awake. “What’s wrong?” she asked, concerned.

“I… don’t… know…” was all I could muster. My brain was no longer in control of my emotions, with no willpower to suppress these terrible feelings.

These issues didn’t last a day, a week, or a month. It’s been almost four years of a long, slow climb of recovery that has altered my life in every way possible: my job, my relationship with my wife, and the love of my kids…heck, we even got a dog out of desperation (it was COVID… we weren’t going anywhere).

Here’s what I wish I’d know:

  • Mental health issues are real, and most of us probably have some.
  • We can helpfully respond to others and ourselves with heart postures of patience, compassion, and empathy, allowing space and time and safety for healing. 
  • It’s okay to talk about it. Let’s love the people around us enough to know them, even if it’s not their best moment and it makes us uncomfortable.

May The Navigators become a community known for our courage and willingness to talk about the hard things, to bleed with others in their brokenness, and to trust that in the end, the resurrection of Jesus is big enough to put everything right, even us. To know Christ and make Him known while knowing others and helping them do the same.

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