This post was originally published on firstname.lastname@example.org on September 30, 2017.
This is part 2 of my 2-part blog post. If you did not read the first post, you may want to go back and read it first.
A wise and wonderful friend of mine once said something so true and so powerful to me. It was right after I decided to get help for my eating disorder and right before I actually started the hard work of therapy and treatment. In this season of intense conviction and anxiety, it was a difficult yet encouraging statement to hear. She said: “The moments before my biggest breakthroughs and blessings always involved a battle of anxiety and fear; But it was worth it every time.”
At the time, I could only imagine blurry images of these so-called “blessings” that she said would come to me; and I could not comprehend what sort of “breakthroughs” I would have. I was too focused on my fears and on the obstacles I would have to overcome first. Anxiety kept my mind on the negatives instead of the potential positives.
However, now that I have submitted to the process of recovery for over a year, I’ve discovered that she was right. The battles that I fought were indeed worth it. Now I’ve been able to believe and apply this concept in other areas, as well.
But let’s rewind a bit. . .What happened after I pushed past my fear and started therapy and recovery?
Well, life certainly did not get easier for a while. I walked around with worry and anticipation during the weeks leading up to my first appointment. I constantly questioned whether I had made the right choice in pursuing “recovery.” I was so fearful.
In the months to come, I had to do a lot of very uncomfortable things. Recovery is an ongoing process of, “Okay Jessica, now we need to talk about this___, and work on this ___. You’re going to have to stop doing this ___, and cope with life without this ___.” An eating disorder is, in many ways, like an addiction. It’s not easy or glamorous to give up. I’ve had to change my behavior, my coping skills, my thoughts, and go against my instincts so many times. It was miserable some days.
But something cool happened over time. For every hard day that I got through, I realized I had the power to do something I deemed impossible, before. I think this is a good example of the kind of “breakthrough” my friend was talking about. It’s a positive, uplifting, and eye-opening experience. It’s an “Aha!” moment where we learn something new about ourself, and we let it really sink into our brain.
Every time I got through a day without using one of my eating disordered “behaviors” or unhealthy coping tools, I regained some of my dignity and sense of inner-strength. Even when I had a bad day, I realized that a lot of my fears were coming from made-up scenarios in my mind, and that the pains of recovery were not as unbearable as I had expected. My anxiety and fear have significantly decreased around the things I used to have panic attacks over. By enduring hardships and functioning through them, I learned more about life and about my capabilities; and this has allowed me to fundamentally change in positive ways. The changes in my life and thoughts have been the breakthrough that my friend predicted.
The blessings I have received from this difficult process of recovery are numerous: Resilience, true joy, more peace, self-care skills, incredible energy, new passions, empathy, connections with some of the best people I’ve ever met, a more genuine heart, a deeper understanding of my self-worth, and an understanding of what it means to rely on God in times of desperation.
But remember: before I gained the blessing and breakthroughs, I had intense anxiety and fear to push through.
Now that I’ve told you my experience, let me give you another example. My story is just one example of what can happen when we choose to fight through the anxiety and fears we have about something.
Let’s say someone is about to start a new job. They’re intimidated by everything they have to learn, and they’re anxious about making mistakes. They feel inadequate to fill their position. But after a while, they start to get the hang of things. Over many months, they make mistakes, get embarrassed, have to prove their skills to their own self, their boss, their co-wokers, and their clients. They’re exhausted, but they haven’t given up. Eventually, they learn that they are not only capable of doing this job, but they’re also getting really good at it. Through the years of determination, they get promoted and are highly respected by everyone who knows them in this job. They now have confidence in them self, new passion for their job, new skills, and maybe even better opportunities.
If that person had not fought through the anxiety, fear, and initial hardships, they wouldn’t have gained the blessings and breakthroughs.
Here’s another example: New moms often feel terrified before their first child is born. And many often feel doubtful, anxious, and inadequate during those first few months and years of mothering. But they also often endure those hard days, become better mothers, gain the blessings of being a mom, and realize they can handle more than they thought.
I can think of more examples, but I think you get the point. Now, I want to encourage you to dig deep, and do some reflecting. What kind of blessings and breakthroughs could possibly await you on the other side of your own fear and anxiety? My guess is that if you choose to struggle through something that isn’t easy for you right now, you will eventually be rewarded with feelings of accomplishment and strength; you’ll gain insight; you’ll become more resilient to life’s trials; and you’ll possibly even find joy from other blessings that you can’t imagine yet.
(Also, because of who I am, I can’t leave out the impact that the scriptures have had on me. My motivation to do hard things often truly comes from knowing that God promises to strengthen me, sustain me, provide a better future, and lead me on the best paths. Here are some of my favorite verses for times of anxiety.)
“So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.” – Galatians 6:9
“For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison,” – 2 Corinthians 4:16
“”For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” – Jeremiah 29:11
“apart from me you can do nothing. . .If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” – John 15:5,7
“Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” – Hebrews 4:16