Greetings all, we are going to do something a little different for our e-votionals this Advent season.  Anne Marie Miller will be our King Speaker on January 25, and she has written an Advent devotional.  This month she has agreed to allow me to share some of those with you.  I hope you enjoy them, and if you want the entire devotional, you can download it from her website, www.annemariemiller.com.

…ANXIETY ON EARTH

“Peace on earth…”

We sing it almost every Sunday during Christmas. We see it on decorations and Christmas cards.

When I was 14, I remember sitting in my room doing homework and watching a Texas Rangers game. Nothing crazy was happening. I wasn’t stressed. Out of nowhere, my heart started racing, my stomach cramped, I got lightheaded and dizzy and felt like I couldn’t breathe.

I went outside and climbed on top of my mom’s car and started at the sky…the big, open sky. Relax. What’s wrong? Am I about to die? I felt like the universe wasn’t big enough to hold me.

My dad noticed I was gone and came outside. He asked what was troubling me and I shared with him my symptoms. Patiently listening, he said I was experiencing anxiety with no reason; it happens sometimes.

It hasn’t stopped.

I started taking anxiety medicine when I was 19 and couldn’t sleep. Except for a few years here and there, I take something every day. Some people think it’s a lack of faith that I’m not healed. It’s not. It’s a lack of chemicals.

This summer, I thought life was stable enough to try and wean off my medication. I slowly tapered to 1/3 of my dose when, in the middle of one of Tim’s film shoots, I couldn’t get out of the car. I was paralyzed in a way that felt like someone was sitting on my chest. I wasn’t having withdrawal symptoms or “rebound anxiety,” if you’re familiar with the term. I just needed to be back on my meds.

And on them I stay. Sometimes, my anxiety is even more than the meds can control, so I throw in some herbal supplements and am always doing breathing and focus exercises. Yesterday was one of those days when I was overwhelmed by it. I sat in a Whole Foods (it was my office for the day) drinking some calming tea and even having a truffle. I can’t call internationally, but I texted some prayer warrior girlfriends of mine.

Peace on earth? I wish.

Christ is peace and leaves the peace of the Holy Spirit with us. I know I have peace…it just doesn’t feel like the peace I want. Or maybe I am learning to slowly tap into it. Into trust and the truth God has me. Period.

Reflect: What do you do during times of worry and stress or clinical anxiety? Do you have people you can turn to? Prayers you say? It’s important to have a plan for when anxiety strikes us…otherwise it can overtake us.