The second part in a series about bringing our anxiety before The Blessed Sacrament
(Image by Joice Kelly courtesy of Unsplash)
It has been nine days since my anxiety struck…no paralyzed me. There were bits and pieces that led up to this event, like breadcrumbs that served as warning signs along the way. Danger here! Stop here! But rather than stop and listen to those warning signs, I kept going, because rather than trust what my anxiety was trying to tell me, I felt shamed by it.
The people that were around me were telling me no, it’s because of what happened to you at your past job, or it’s because of your past trauma or things will get better, just you wait and see. While all the while inside I knew something was wrong, very wrong, and it scared me. Two days went by, then three. The anxiety kept on going until around day four or five a switch in my head flipped. It was as if I couldn’t get back to the place of joy that I had been in. None of it made any sense; how could this all have been caused by a seemingly innocuous event?
I called a circle of friends that I trusted and asked them, what the heck is going on? They all pointed me back to Christ. None of them could tell me why it was happening and all were worried that the trauma that I had experienced last year at my job had somehow been re-triggered. But this didn’t feel like that, this felt different.
One of my friends confirmed to me that I had to sit before the Blessed Sacrament and make a commitment to a holy hour for thirty days. I had to be still, listen and hear what the Lord had to say to me. I made the commitment and I was on my way. On day 1 I was restless but felt peace. Day 2 was a little less restless. By day 3, I was committed, what is going on Lord?
It was 5 am today, Day 4. I finished my morning bible study early in preparation for getting myself to an early catechesis class at my parish when the Holy Spirit said, “Go to adoration now.” It was 6 am. Dark. The voice was clear and unequivocal, but gentle and kind.
I got ready in a matter of seconds and felt whisked away by God to the 24-hour adoration chapel down the road. I arrived at 6:20 am ready to hear what God had to say. My anxiety was at an all-time high, turned on by this series of seemingly unusual events. I wanted more than anything for the confusion, heart racing, and constant panic to go away.
Sitting before The Blessed Sacrament, I felt peace. My body stopped shaking and I was able to breathe. I felt joy and a great sense that my answer would come. And it did. Right in the first few lines of the Liturgy of the Hours Morning Prayer,
Wisdom of God, be with me, always at work in me
“Lord today I pray for wisdom. Lord give me wisdom,” I said, as the Holy Spirit took over, leading me in prayer.
And the next thing that God told me was so profound I knew it wasn’t just for me, but for all of you who suffer with anxiety.
This is what I heard.
“Anxiety is a grace because it got you here. It was the vehicle to get you here before me. It means your check engine light is working. You’re not crazy, what you perceieved as wrong is wrong.”
I couldn’t believe it… could my anxiety be a good thing, not something filled with shame but rather being used as a grace? I was awestruck.
In deconstructing the anxiety before God, I realized that my instincts were right, my conscious was right, not betraying me but actually perfectly intact and in tune with The Holy Spirit. So what if this manifested in anxiety? It meant that I was right, something was indeed very wrong. And with that validation from the Holy Spirit Himself, I thanked God and in the same breath, I asked Him to take away my anxiety.
Before I could exhale, it was gone.
It wasn’t dramatic, it just happened. The cloud lifted, the heavy blanket lifted and that was that. I got out of my seat at the chapel and prostrated myself before the Blessed Sacrament. In that moment I asked God with a completely clear mind, “What do you want me to do?” My face was on the ground.
“Feed my sheep”, he said.
And so here I am doing what He has asked.
I share this for those of you who are suffering. Who think your anxiety or depression or PTSD or whatever it is you are suffering from is a curse. It is the farthest thing from it. As God showed me when we bring our sufferings to Him and ask why, ask Him to show us, ask Him to help us, He reveals the answer. The suffering you hate the most is the very same suffering that God is using to bring you to Himself.
There is nothing wrong with you. Those symptoms, those signs, were all right! They may have manifested for me in anxiety, but there was no shame in that! And when God parted the red sea of my panic, His wisdom flowed through His Eucharistic love for me.
I pray that you too are blessed by this knowledge. The power of God’s wisdom through The Blessed Sacrament, friends who support you and bring you back to Christ, and the instinct you had that manifested itself as a suffering. He is indeed calling you to Himself.