This month I am hosting a Guest Series on Miracles. Marisa from Called to Mothering joins us today to share the miracle of overcoming a lifelong struggle with Obsessive Anxiety.
Have you ever been the recipient of a miracle? I am looking to feature three more stories this month. If you have a story to share please consider submitting it here.
I’ve had it for as long as I can remember.
When I was a little girl, I would carefully build houses out of blocks for my dolls and painstakingly make sure that they were safe inside. Everything was always neatly arranged in my bedroom, and I knew when something had been moved or was just ever so slightly out of place. Obsessive thoughts played over and over again in my head: What if my parents died? What if she stops being my friend? What if the house burns down?
My parents divorced when I was 11, making it feel like the rug I had been carefully balancing on was pulled out from underneath me. Worry about everything and nothing simultaneously gnawed at me. I felt little peace about anything. There were times I worried that I wasn’t worried enough! The need to control my world with order and neatness was overwhelming.
Obsessive Anxiety in Parenting
There’s no rhyme or reason for it. It is nearly impossible to explain to someone who has never been its victim. It is not simply worrying too much, or being overwhelmed by a particular set of circumstances. It can’t be managed with to do lists.
It’s like trying to walk daily through thick mud, in heavy fog. Irrational thoughts replace rational ones. The prospect of changing anything- moving, switching jobs, making any major life decisions- made me physically sick.
When I became a Christian at 18, anxiety continued to have power over me. It was still a stronghold because I hadn’t completely surrendered control to God, or let Him heal the deep wounds from my past. I didn’t completely believe that God was sovereign over all things.
When my first child was born in 2008, the anxiety reached an all time high. I began to obsess over whether I was feeding him enough, letting him sleep too much, playing with him enough, etc. I worried that I wasn’t a good mother, and that there was no way to really know whether I was doing anything right. When I began to relax that maybe I did have things under control, I felt guilty that I had allowed myself not to worry. I thought I could control things if I just constantly thought about them ALL THE TIME.
My daughter was born three years later, and two weeks after her birth I was diagnosed with postpartum depression. I remember sitting in the glider with her in my arms rocking her to sleep, feeling completely overwhelmed and inadequate, and crying out to God to take over. For the first time, I acknowledged that I couldn’t do it all. I wasn’t going to be enough for my children, but He would be.
Still, there were plenty of moments when I played with my children and felt anxious the whole time that the house was a mess. I was rarely able to just enjoy that otherwise tender or joyful moment, because of the obsessive need to pick stuff up and put it away. I became irritated when my husband left things on the counter or the kids left their toys out. Eventually, I began to see signs of anxiety in my oldest. He was starting to pick up on some of my behavior, the same way I had mirrored my mother’s neuroses back to her.
Obsessive Anxiety Broken
Obsessive thoughts are indicative of a demonic stronghold, over which I was powerless. Although I had put my faith in Jesus, I had not asked Him to break this generational cycle. I was not allowing the power of Christ to cast this demon out. One night last spring, I prayed for God to reveal to me what I was still holding onto, to heal all those broken places. And I also prayed in the name of Jesus for freedom from this stronghold. Jesus is the only one who has the power to do such a miracle.
“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love.” 1 John 4:18
For the majority of my life this fear and anxiety ruled me, but now knowing the depths of God’s love I am not afraid. Now I confidently march up to anxious thoughts that appear like a heavy curtain in front of me and declare Jesus has the power and authority over them. They no longer obstruct my view, the curtain is torn, and I am able to walk right through.
Believing His love is greater and stronger than my fear, I can experience true freedom and live the abundant life Jesus promised in John 10:10! “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”
Marisa writes to encourage women to find purpose and joy in their God-given calling as mothers, and to help them raise children with a biblical worldview. She’s a homeschooling mama to two great kids and a wife to one husband of 13 years. She enjoys coffee, hanging out with friends, spending time in God’s Word, and marveling at the cultural differences between New Jersey where she grew up and Oklahoma where her family has been transplanted to! Her book, Bucking The System: Reclaiming Our Children’s Minds For Christ, was released this past January in both Kindle and Softcover formats. Marisa blogs over at http://calledtomothering.com/