Hey God? I sure could use some grace today. Anxiety is eating me alive. It feels like it is corroding me from the inside out. And I hate it. I hate it so damn much. I don’t think I can do this anymore!
If you’re there, I could really use some help. When my heart is overwhelmed, when anxiety paralyzes my mind, when a thousand tiny “maybes” and “should-haves” fill my thoughts, be my peace. Come to me like calm and hold me while I quake.
I was a pastor when I nearly died by suicide. The journal entry you just read was the most overwhelmed I had felt since that day. During this spiral, I was driving down the highway when I started to scream at the top of my lungs. It wasn’t pretty. It wasn’t controlled. It wasn’t scripted. It was honestly pretty damn scary. Thankfully, it was well after dark so nobody could see me completely losing my shit behind the steering wheel.
Hot tears ran down and soaked my shirt while I told God just how much the situation sucked. “Will my life always be this way? Do you even give a damn?! Could you just give me a break?!”
Through the years, I’ve learned one valuable, but sometimes sad, truth: I am not alone. Countless people are overwhelmed, suffering the shameful lashings of their past, holding onto gut-wrenching memories, unable to catch their breath in a world that tells them just to keep pushing. If the pressure of fear, pain, anxiety, and anger simmer and grow, sooner or later they’re going to explode.
Despair is a literal killer.
So many people tend to just “fake it ‘til you make it,” but that is the worst thing we could possibly do. We don’t have to shove the anger and disappointment back down into our gut. We don’t have to pretend everything is okay while we’re silently imploding. We can (and should) tell the truth, admit we’re hurting, and ask for help.
If we want to heal the deepest parts of our souls, it does take time, just like with any physical wound. But I know from years of personal experience that it also takes medication, therapy, self-compassion, stillness, a safe community, and willingness to take actionable steps to get better.
The world is full of overwhelmed people who are just trying to fake it till we make it. I wore the mask of performance and perfection for many years. But honesty and vulnerability have brought a new kind of strength, healing, and energy to my life. I don’t ever want to go back. Maybe we can fake it till we make it, but it’s a rotten way to live.
I know, because I’ve been there.
I’ve been consumed with shame and bogged down by depression. I’ve been spun-up by anxiety and thrown into the damn wall by PTSD. I know what it’s like to rest the Bible in my lap in a hotel room while writing “goodbye letters” to all my closest people.
When loneliness mixes with mental illness, shame, and a generalized sense of hopelessness, it’s a cocktail that can destroy everything. Most importantly, it can ruin you. I know what it’s like to think it would be better to die than to face tomorrow. I’ve walked through that living hell.
And I’ve faced tomorrow. And tomorrow isn’t always more comfortable. The sun doesn’t always come out right away. Things don’t always miraculously change and improve overnight. Anyone who tells you just to do a particular something and suddenly life will make sense doesn’t have a clue what on earth they’re talking about.
If you’re reading this and it feels like life just plain sucks, I’m sorry. Please know you’re not alone. It will get better. I promise. Please don’t give up. Don’t leave. This will get better. I don’t know how or when. I know that hard days can seem unthinkable at times, but in my experience, they don’t last forever.
So hold on.
And let go of all the things that are weighing you down. If it feels like your ship is sinking, throw all the excess cargo overboard and hold on. Hold onto these words. Hold onto hope. Hold onto memories of better days. They will come again.
When the church or culture at large tells you to keep pushing, ignore your feelings, discount your needs, demonize your weaknesses, avoid your doubts, and just keep swimming, this is your invitation to come up for air and breathe again. If you’re looking for permission to be human, here it is: you can slow down and take a deep breath.