Last night we went out for dinner.
It was one of those perfect evenings, the kind every romance novel talks about and you see so rarely in real life – unless you live in Colorado, and then you see them every summer evening. (We live in Colorado, by the way.)
The neighborhood we live in is beautiful. “Resort-style living,” they call it, surrounded by rolling green golf courses, shimmering lakes, and friendly neighbors. Tiny sandpipers run along the beaches, and the sunsets are breathtaking. Nearly everyone owns a golf cart, and the clubhouse is just a half-mile away from our house. We took our cart there last night, on a Wednesday evening, nothing special. There was a soft breeze gently brushing our skin, and an exquisite view of the Colorado mountain range from our upstairs patio seats.
We both ordered the salmon, and our hands touched throughout the meal. We smiled into each other’s eyes like the idiots in love we are, and talked about how far we’ve come, and how truly, truly incredibly blessed we are. My heart was full and I was blissfully happy. I don’t think there was a single thing that could have improved the evening.
We ran into several people we knew and enjoy, and chatted briefly with them all. Then we drove home, and my husband left to check emails on his computer. I sat on the couch.
I was smiling to myself. It had been such a good evening, and I was truly happy.
Then I started running over the evening in my mind. And it slowly starting going faster, and faster, on endless loop. I thought about everything I’d said. I thought about everything I hadn’t said. I thought about everything I should have said, or definitely shouldn’t have said. My heart picked up its pace. My breath quickened. My hands started shaking. I shouldn’t have said that. I should have done that instead. Why did I do that? What’s wrong with me? Why can’t I be normal? What is happening to me?
By the time my husband came back from the office, I was curled on the couch crying. My mind was so off-track at this point that I couldn’t even tell him what was wrong. I told him I thought he got a broken wife and he held me and said he got a perfect wife. Bless the man and his patience. He stayed up with me, late into the night, and talked to me until the fears were put to rest and I could finally sleep.
That’s how it happens. It comes out of nowhere. Anxiety doesn’t always mean pointless worry about what could happen. It doesn’t mean not trusting God with your future. It is something that comes out of the middle of a happy evening and overwhelms you and tells you not that horrible things might happen, but that you are wrong simply for being. It is your mind turning against you, un-asked for and unwanted. It isn’t because you forgot to be grateful. It isn’t because you haven’t prayed enough (do those with anxiety ever stop praying?) and it isn’t because there’s something wrong with you. It’s just something that happens, sometimes.
And if this is you, I’m here to tell you that it gets better. There will be dark days, but there will also be days of sunlight and joy. You are in the valley now, but you won’t always be. Give yourself a little grace, and don’t let anxiety tell you that you’re alone. You are not alone. This is something you carry, and you may always carry it, but it doesn’t get to tell you who you are. You’re still here, and you are so worth loving.