His cloudy blue eyes squinted with thoughtful concern as I told him my story. Something I hadn't planned on doing. I assumed I'd be in and out of the doctor's office in less than an hour. But there I was, saying everything. And there he was, listening carefully.
I told him that I'd had anxiety forever. That, when I was three, my preschool teacher held a meeting with my parents because my hands were shaking when I was learning how to use scissors. She thought I was going through something terrible, but it turned out I was just stressed about the scissors.
"I've never known life outside of anxiety," I said. "And I'm finally willing to admit this might be chemical."
I looked up to find the doctor appearing even more like a grandfather than he did when I began. I had tried to disguise the shame I felt with frequent smiles and nervous laughs, but the look of deep compassion on his face informed me I hadn't succeeded.
For a moment it was silent. But it wasn't the uncomfortable kind of silence, loaded with judgement and ridicule. It was the safe kind, filled with empathy and concern.
"Now I know that Scripture says to be anxious for nothing," he said, eyes steady and serious. "But I don't want you to take that and feel guilty. We live in a fallen world with fallen neurotransmitters...
"This isn't your fault. Do you understand that?"
Tears filled my eyes as I nodded.
Somehow he knew I needed to hear those words even more than I needed medication.
Many will tell you the Cross means your anxiety disorder shouldn't exist, but I'm here to tell you the Cross means it's okay.
It's okay to be broken. It's okay to seek help. It's okay to need medication.
Jesus showed up in my brokenness that afternoon and kindly informed me I had everything backwards. Anxiety wasn’t keeping me from wholeness—shame was.
The Cross made healing possible first by annihilating shame—by lifting the veil that separates us from the truth about our brokenness. And the truth is, it's okay.
For the six months that followed, I chose to give my weary brain a break. My doctor prescribed a mild anti-anxiety medication that helped me stop avoiding things that scared me, and I finally began to taste a life outside of fear.
For many of us, this is an absolutely necessary step to recovery. Taking medication doesn't mean you don't trust God. Quite oppositely, it means you trust him enough to guide you down this unfamiliar path to healing.
Are there risks to consider? Of course. Should you seek advice from a professional counselor? Absolutely. But because of the Cross, we don't have to live in fear (or shame) of any of that.
So if you feel broken and afraid and ashamed about all of it, here's what I recommend:
Take a deep breath and ask for what you need . . .
Because the Cross means it’s okay.