By Mollie Musgrove
When I think of the word wilderness, I picture someone walking alone in a dark, scary, and lonely place. That is what my journey with anxiety looked like for many years. Anxiety is a disease that can infect all the good in your life if you let it. My health, my relationships, my mind were all fighting a losing battle. Anxiety is something I've struggled with almost all of my life, but I did not realize how much it affected my life until it had taken over every fiber of my being. I told no one of my pain and tried to push through it silently on my own. Did that work? Nope. Not in the slightest. The more I pushed inward, the worse my anxiety got. I was falling farther and farther into the wilderness because I was too scared to ask for help or let anyone see my weaknesses. In the process, I was falling farther away from God. I was walking alone through the darkness scared people would see me differently if they knew what was really going on behind my perfect smile. What was once my calling card had become a mask for the pain I was hiding inside.
People often say God won't give you more than you can handle. But I think God sometimes gives us more than we think we can handle to see what we will do. Will we find inner strength we didn't know we had? Will we finally reach out for help we so desperately need? Walking through the wilderness is a lonely and scary journey, but it doesn't have to be. When a family starts the journey of parenthood we say "you do not walk this path of parenthood alone." What if we used this phrase when walking through the wilderness? You do not walk this path of marriage alone. You do not walk this path of mourning alone. You do not walk this path of ________ alone. It has taken me a long time to realize this and actually let myself start to trust in Him fully, or really anyone for that matter. For so long, I wandered alone fearful of the path ahead. I have learned the way through the wilderness is with God by your side. Not only is God with us on our path every step of the way, but so is our church family. My journey to this realization has not been an easy one.
I still struggle with anxiety and the daily fight to choose joy again, but through it all God is my refuge. The wilderness can be mighty, but I am no longer weak. The wilderness may be dark, but I have the Light on my side. The wilderness will not break me; it will only make me stronger.
As we move through this season of Lent, I pray you will find comfort in the words you read and the messages you hear. Let us praise the One who reigns above all else. For I know, my smile is no longer a mask, but a symbol of strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow.