Anxiety Is The Dizziness of Freedom
I struggle with acute anxiety occasionally--just enough for me to understand a little of what it's like for people who feel anxious all of the time. It's not fun.
If you have never suffered from acute anxiety, you may not know what it feels like. It can take the form of tightness in your chest, accompanied by an overwhelming desire to run or scream or both.
Sometimes it hits you so hard it feels like you can't breathe. Or it will take the form of a sinking feeling of dread that you can't shake no matter how hard you try. It can also fling you into a rage if you have an aversion to tears, or it can send you on a crying jag if you are afraid of your anger.
I know, super fun, right?
The other day I read this quote by the philosopher Soren Kierkegaard that helped me reframe my anxiety and begin to think of it differently. He said: Anxiety is the dizziness of freedom.
Kierkegaard believed that life without anxiety was a life without any possibility.
The reason we have anxiety is that we are filled with possibility, imbued with choices. Some of us feel the "dizziness" of that more intensely, but we all share it to some extent.
There's something liberating in embracing this hard, and important truth.
What we do with this knowledge, however, is crucial. We can allow anxiety to debilitate us, paralyze us or drive us to self-destructive action, or we can do something different.
The Apostle Paul wrote this to the church at Philippi:
6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.This is something more than simply thinking you can pray your worries away. What I'm talking about is a surrendering that comes with truly bringing all your junk and your whole self--anxiety and all--to God.
When you are able to be let go of your attachments to the things that bring you anxiety... When you are able to show grace to yourself in the midst of your frailty...
When you surrender the outcomes to God... you will begin to know "the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding..."
May this be so for you, and may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.