Freed from anxiety
Hi, my name is Tiffany and I’m a single mom to a handsome and intelligent 13 year old boy. I battled anxiety my entire life. But I want to share my story in hopes that it gives you hope.
I suffered from severe anxiety for as long as I can remember. It affected every area of my life and the lives of those who are close to me. Only a few people knew the extent of how bad it could really get. I had never been able to go places by myself, like church or the grocery store, doctor’s appointments, really anywhere on my own. If I went out, I always had a family member or a close friend with me. I had these irrational fears that I knew were irrational, but my body would go into fight or flight mode. And no matter how hard I fought it, it would just get worse. My heart would pound, my mind would race, sweat would pour, and I felt like I couldn’t breathe. I would even wake up a lot of mornings to this happening for no reason at all. There was nothing bothering me. In fact, I had lived a very blessed life. My rational mind knew this, which is what makes anxiety so hard to explain to people. They see you have a good life and they don’t understand how you could feel fear.
A lot of times people with mental illness know they have a good life, but the chemicals in their brain misfire, and cause extreme emotions, over nothing, or sometimes the smallest of things, which then cause irrational fears and their bodies to respond to those fears. Living like this is the closest thing I can imagine to hell on earth. You’re trapped inside your own body, unable to do things your rational mind knows is safe, and you are even unable to chase those dreams that you longed to pursue. I had been on meds for a very long time. But I never gave up praying for and believing for my complete healing.
Someone I had known my entire life, who also suffered from severe anxiety, committed suicide. And my son at the time–let’s see how old was he? Seven or eight.–He was with me when I got the news and he heard what was going on. So at bedtime that night, my son’s name is Corbin, we were saying prayers for her and for her family and he said something. It’s just children, they say things that just sometimes blow your mind. He was praying and he said, “God, I want to pray for You too, because that must have broken Your heart to see that happen to her.” And I just looked at him, you know, his eyes are closed and he’s praying so sincerely. I had been kind of angry with God earlier, you know, asking Him why and, and just…There were a lot of frustrating things I was saying in my prayers, I’m sure, but at that moment, it just broke my heart and I started praying the same thing. You know, like, I’m so sorry, You had to see that. I can’t even imagine because we have free will, we make choices, but He has to watch us make our choices.
I went to my room and laid down. I was getting ready for bed and I was still kind of praying and still very emotional from what Corbin had said, because it was just so pure. So it was at that time that I heard a voice. And I knew Whose voice it was. It didn’t come to me…I don’t know, people that have heard his voice, I’ve never really asked anyone what it sounds like to them. It wasn’t some loud, booming voice, it was a very calming voice. And it just told me, “I’m going to heal you. And I’m going to use your testimony to bring awareness and, you know, break the stigma.” Because, especially in the church, there is a stigma against mental illness. And unfortunately, that causes people to become desperate because they feel like, “Well, if there’s no like–this was supposed to be the place of hope. If there’s no hope here, what am I doing?” And I’ve always found it very interesting. You know, if someone has heart disease, they’re encouraged to take their medications and take care of themselves and go see a doctor. But with someone with mental illness, or anxiety, or depression, it’s instantly–”You’re not believing. You’re not trusting God enough with your problems. You’re, you’re focusing too much on things. You’re not giving it to Him. Your prayer life must be lacking.” But that’s not the case. It still breaks my heart because a church is supposed to be–I consider it to be the hospital. It’s supposed to be a place of healing. Because we can talk about broken marriages. We can talk about, you know, all these other issues, but why can’t we talk about a broken mind? I don’t, I don’t understand.
I would continue to believe and pray for my healing for three and a half years. And each time He would say, “Not yet.” Last summer, my heart was so heavy as my husband of only a year had walked out on our marriage. And my grandfather passed away just days after that. I remember I went to the altar on a Sunday and I poured my heart out and my grief out and just let God comfort me. And I remember literally saying, “Here is all my broken pieces. It’s really just trash. Like I don’t, I don’t know. There’s nothing I can do with it. So if You can just take it and use it somehow. Use it for Your glory. Whatever You want to do with it, please take it because I’ve tried to put it together. I’ve tried to figure out what to do and I can’t.” And I just remember telling Him like, “Take my life. Just use it.” And it was at that moment like, at that time was when He chose to heal me. It wasn’t when I was asking for healing for my anxiety. I just was telling Him like, “I have a whole bunch of mess here and if You can just take it and do something with it…” Because I know that He can do beautiful things with broken things.
Matter of fact, I’ve always thought that He loves broken things because He can mold it and take it and do what He wants. He is the potter, we are the clay and He can take those things and make it something that we cannot even imagine. But that’s what was so interesting is that, you know, I did spend a lot of time in prayer and claiming my healing. But on this particular Sunday, that wasn’t in the forefront of my mind and it was like a headache. It wasn’t anything too painful, but it was noticeable. And it just rolled forward and then it was gone. It was done. And after that moment, I remember instantly feeling different.
My blood pressure had always been high for most of my adult life. It was linked to my anxiety and constantly trying to function normally. I would check it twice a day and it was always high. That Monday, I woke up still feeling different and I did my morning blood pressure check and it was completely normal. I thought something was wrong with the machine. So I put new batteries in it. My blood pressure would remain low from that time to now, a year later. As the days passed, I began to feel even more different and little by little I was changing. By the time the next Sunday rolled around, God had completely healed me of my anxiety. All of my irrational fears, panic attacks, brain loops are gone. I am free.
As I was preparing to tell people all of this, I asked God, “How do I give people hope when it took 37 years to be healed?” My mind was instantly flooded with images of my life, and all the wonderful ways God used my anxiety to help others. There are so many examples, but there is one that really touches my heart that I will share. I was 22 years old, and I had just started a new job. My anxiety was at an all time high to the point I had even considered taking my own life, just to silence all the noise in my head. On one of my first days at the job, I was alone in the break room and I went to pray over my lunch and ended up just praising God and leaning into His presence because I was so desperate for His help, and His peace. I finished praying and look up, and I see a fellow new employee standing there with tears streaming down her face. All she said was, “I want what you have.” She saw beauty and peace in what was a desperate moment for me.
She sat down and began telling me her life story. She was raised in an atheist home, and she felt so empty, but knew that there was more. It amazed me how He took a broken moment of mine, and gave her courage to come talk to me. She saw something in that moment that she wanted. She saw peace, when I was broken. I’m still amazed to this day that me just sharing with her about the Lord…You know, I told her about my anxiety and she was just so hungry. She wanted to know more. We started Bible studies and it wasn’t long until she got baptized. She suffered with anorexia and God freed her of that. So I mean, I just look back and even though it has nothing to do with me, I’m so humbled that I got to play a part. I got to, because of my, because of my brokenness, I was able to help someone else that was broken.
Oftentimes, we forget we are not suffering alone. Jesus feels everything we feel, and it breaks His heart to see us hurting. I don’t have all the answers, why things happen the way they do. But I know He has a plan. God can heal anyone of anything at any time. You should never doubt that and you should claim your healing. He sees the bigger picture and He has His perfect timing. The thing I learned was to keep believing He could absolutely heal me. But if He chose not to move that mountain before me, He would provide a way around it. He would give me strength to keep going. If you have been believing for your healing, keep believing because today could be your day. But even if today He says, “Not yet.” He will reward your faith in other ways, and provide a way for you to keep going, if you will just keep leaning into Him. I know He healed me at this moment in time for a specific purpose and I’m ready without fear, for the first time in my life, to do what He wants me to do.
After I was healed, He told me to testify. I had never been up in front of a crowd before. And we have a decent sized church and when I got up there, you know, I was like, oh, my goodness. And the whole night before, the enemy was just attacking me. “You’re going to get up there and your anxiety is going to come back.” So when I got up there on Sunday, I just remember feeling this amazing peace and looking out into all those faces and instead of being terrified, I almost just wanted to do a little dance because you’re just like, “I’m up here and I feel free. I feel truly free.” And I remember all the people that were close to me in the audience just sobbing because I mean, they’ve never seen me be able to do anything like that. It was incredible getting to share that moment with them. I mean, I think that was the moment that…It wasn’t that they doubted that I was healed, but sometimes when it’s right in front of us, we’re like, No, there has to be an explanation. Or maybe, you know, you try and rationalize that. But that was the first time that they knew without a doubt that I had been healed. My parents, my grandparents, everyone that was there, you know, was just like, amazed. My life had meaning before, obviously, like I said, the lives that I was able to touch and the, the beautiful things that I was able to see in others and see other people healed. But it’s, it’s beautiful. It’s beautiful and I mean, I feel like I’m just starting. At 38, just starting.