by Holly Crawford
For some inexplicable reason, the presence of fall has always triggered my wanderlust more than any other season. It must be the beauty of an ever brightening landscape, the nip in the air that calls for one of the fifty scarves I’ve purchased for such occasions, and the scent of smoke mixed under a cold, clear blue sky. I start reading a lot of Tolkien and wishing I had a Gandalf to whisk me away on a grand adventure. In Tolkien’s stories, he paints pictures of journeys full of vivid life, new discoveries, and awe-inspiring sights. But he also adds plenty of conflict and hardships too. It’s a world of vicious enemies, dangerous terrain, and terrible revelations. This combination makes for a compelling story.
Usually, our own sojourns don’t take us to dangerous mountains or dark caves. They start inside the intimate and treacherous topography of our mind. Though I can’t speak for others with the same affliction, my experiences with an anxiety disorder have taken me on a compelling journey of hardship and self-discovery.
As I walk this path, the catacombs of my mind consistently echo with thoughts, fears, and dread. Sometimes, the echoes are a quiet rustling, barely noticeable. At other times my mind rings with a deafening reverberation of fear and chaos. Every thought resounding with failure, rejection, and heartbreak.
Amidst the palpable dread that weighs down my chest, I have often wondered if God was disappointed with me. How could I live in such fear when He was the God that walked me through the valley of death? When I am called to rejoice in the hope of Christ and his love? I surely must be failing Him. Or he surely must be failing me. How am I expected to face this already scary world with a brave face when I am struggling against a tide of fear in my own head? I have raged and fallen apart; I have felt useless and powerless to go on any other journey God might call me to.
Yes, it has been a treacherous path indeed. But, like those compelling expeditions that Tolkien so fondly spun, there have been spectacular sights along the way. I have been broken, and put back together. I have despaired in the darkness of night just to find sunshine in a still morning. I have been reminded that the hardship of this life comes with the promise that we will never be forsaken. I have felt God’s compassionate and approving heart through the most loathsome of disappointments.
As you’re reading this, remember compelling stories are compiled of dangers untold and moments of incredible beauty. I don’t know what odyssey you have been on or what treacheries have marked your course. But remember it is your story to tell the world. This is my journey with anxiety. And it is mine to live, mine to claim, and mine to make great.