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Letting go of the shrouds of anxiety

Jesus inhabited a body like mine, without sin, yes, but not without dread, alarm, pain and foreboding. So…

‘No, I don’t think so,’ I answered at last.

‘It’s not your fault, Nikki,’ the Wise Man said, gently but firmly. ‘And you are not on trial. You are not in trouble.’

And then, the moment I believe I turned a corner, the moment my interior view shifted from a small, confined room to a wide, deep sky.

‘It’s time,’ the Wise Man spoke to me. ‘Time to walk off the battlefield. Time to lay down your weapons. There’s no need to fight anymore.’

I thought about all the times I had attempted to conquer anxiety by fighting it. Sometimes literally taking my fists to it. I remembered one chill night in Melbourne, when my adrenaline went through the roof in our apartment, and my husband held up his larger hands and allowed me to hit against them. Punch after punch, as hard as I could.

‘I hate you, anxiety!’ I had yelled, through tears, as I made my knuckles ache with the impact. ‘I hate you so much. Go away, go away. Go away.’ I’d punched and punched and punched. And in the end, I’d collapsed, not in relief, but exhaustion.

Fighting wasn’t just ineffective, it was draining, emptying. If I wanted to be full, emptying myself of anxiety wasn’t the answer after all.

The Wise Man was right. I had stopped running, but I hadn’t stopped fighting, trying so hard to triumph that I was falling flat on my face. How could I have got it so wrong, mistaking striving for growth?

A time not to strive, but to abide.

The Wise Man wasn’t saying anything new; not all of it, anyway. But in that time and place, somehow it spoke more clearly than ever before. Like a sword of peace, to my embattled heart.

‘There’s more to you than your anxiety, Nikki,’ he said. ‘You are not defined by it.’