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May 27, 2022 327 Ivonne J. Hernandez, USA
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Overcoming Anxiety

It isn’t easy when anxiety attacks but you are not alone…

I knew what was coming next as soon as I heard the beat echoing inside my chest, each beat faster than the next. My heart raced as I tried to remember to exhale. A knot formed in my stomach as if it knew I needed something to hold on to, shallow breath after shallow breath. The dreaded domino effect in my body was a familiar yet unwelcome guest. Here was Anxiety trying to take over again. It seems like the more I fought her, the stronger she would get. My attention kept fueling her until I realized that Peace, the guest I did want to entertain, had already left.

A High Fever

Anxiety is a topic I have hesitated writing about. I am not a mental health professional. I am not qualified to give advice on these matters. But I am a person with an experience, and I am qualified to share my story. For me, anxiety has been like a fever…a symptom that shows up to tell me something somewhere needs attention. At times, the symptom, like a high fever, needs direct help to get through the situation, but other times, just knowing “this too shall pass” has been enough to allow me to sit in the discomfort and wait for God to comfort me. Time and time again, He has brought light and healing to these areas of my heart that felt isolated from Him.

The first time I felt His healing hand soothe my fears away, I thought I was healed; I thought I would never have to experience that sense of dread again. So, when it happened again, I was confused. Did I do something to make Him take His favor back? Did I fail to pass the test? No… There is just much more that needs to be healed. Each time I experience anxiety becomes an opportunity for me to call on God to help me. Each time, I invite Jesus to rule in my heart and bring me His Peace.

One Big Lie

On one of those occasions, I learned how the enemy of my soul was using my fears against me. Every time I got close to identifying a pattern of sin in my life, the fears would sneak in. The fear was so crippling I could not even hear with my mind the lie that I was choosing to believe in. It felt like an automatic reaction until I became still instead of running away. I remembered the prophecy of Simeon to Our Lady: “…and you yourself a sword will pierce so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed” (Luke 2:35). Through Mary, I asked Jesus to reveal to me the thoughts of my own heart.

The wind started to blow, and, in my mind, I saw huge idols made of sand start to dissipate, one by one. Each lie was made of nothing, and against God’s truth, could not stand. But what did I find on the other side? Not happiness, but a deep pain in my heart. I came upon my sin, a deep-rooted tree that had remained hidden but had bad fruit popping up all over my life. Things that seemed disconnected all converged in this one big lie: “God does not see you; You are alone in this life.”

The sight of all the sin that had emerged from this one lie caused pain, but there was no fear. The grace of repentance poured in with each tear…“where sin increased, grace overflowed all the more” (Romans 5:20). Scripture after scripture filled my mind as the Spirit interceded for me, and Truth filled my heart. I felt seen. I felt loved. I knew I was and would never be alone.

Like I said at the beginning, I am not a mental health expert, so I do not know what you need to help you confront your fears. But I do know God loves each and every one of us. This encounter with God’s love healed something else in me. One of the most crippling aspects of anxiety is when we fear the anxiety itself. The experience is so unsettling and uncomfortable that we do everything possible to avoid going through it again. But I know now there is nothing to fear, for it is in our darkest moments that the light will shine the brightest. He has conquered death. His love is greater than our fears.

“In all these things we conquer overwhelmingly through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor present things, nor future things, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:37-39).

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Ivonne J. Hernandez

Ivonne J. Hernandez is a Lay Associate of the Blessed Sacrament, president of Elisheba House, and author of “The Rosary: Eucharistic Meditations.” To read more of her articles visit Elisheba Blog (elishebahouse.com).

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