My Westwood

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Calming an Anxious Mind

Published April 27, 2017

Cindy Cole Nelson headshot copyI am so thankful for my anxiety disorder. As crazy as that sounds, this is what God used, and continues to use, to reignite
my faith.

It all started about 16 years ago. I don't know whether it was a health scare with my son, or the events of 9/11 or just everyday stresses of life but I started carrying a general nervous feeling around with me everywhere I went. This developed into a horrible fear that something was wrong with me.

I started getting physical symptoms: tingling sensations in my hands and feet, dizziness, confusion. Scared, I went into the doctor. She couldn't find anything wrong so she decided to do additional testing and told me not to worry. Yeah right! I immediately went home and researched all the symptoms of these diseases and decided I had all of them in some form or another. In fact, I had myself so convinced that I was physically sick that I didn’t believe the test results when they came back negative. Instead, the unexplained diagnosis spiraled me into a helpless terrorizing fog. I was so miserable that it was hard sometimes to just get through the day.

Weeks later, I recalled a conversation my cousin and I had about her experience with anxiety. I went back to the doctor. Sure enough, that’s what my issue was. I got treated and finally found relief. Thank goodness for my cousin’s openness and vulnerability or I don’t know how long I would have suffered. Unfortunately, my anxiety didn't end after that first episode. It has been an on and off battle ever since, but my faith has grown and been strengthened each time as a result.

Philippians 4:6-7 says "Do not be anxious for anything, but by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” These verses became a battle plan in how I was going to find healing. Every time I had a worried thought, big or little, I would pray it away by presenting it to him. This meant I was praying a lot,
about the same things over and over, about serious concerns and about seemingly silly, stupid ones.

Praying with thanksgiving reminded me of all the things God has given me that I am grateful for and helped me gain a truthful perspective of my situation. Praying also helped me remember God controls the outcome of my circumstances, not my foolish worrying. Once I prayed about things I couldn't control, I needed to be done with them and simply trust he would do what was best for me.

Now I don't want you to think all I had to do was pray and "poof" everything was fixed. I had to do some additional work as well. I sought professional help. I learned how to retrain my mind to think positively. I learned how to live in the present and take better care of myself. But praying continually, going to the Bible for guidance and just being aware of God’s presence with me in all my days, all my moments, all my circumstances, that was the ultimate key.

Ten years ago, God began opening doors for me to share my story at events and conferences. Me, someone with anxiety, getting up in front of a room full of women! It’s crazy to think about. But that’s how God works. He gives you the strength to do things you never could do otherwise.

I now have a joint ministry called Road to Joy Ministries where my speaking partner and I hope to spread the joy of Christ into people’s lives. Worry and anxiety are such common struggles for us all, and I feel so privileged that God would use my experience to help others.

God has freed me from the bondage of anxiety and has given me his peace—a peace that is more than just a relaxing feeling or a sense of calm. It's a peace that transcends all understanding.

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