I wasn’t always an anxious person. Even though I didn’t grow up in a perfect environment, I was usually pretty layback and a very easy-going person. I was typically patient, relaxed, and very layback. I moved a lot as a child, so changes rarely affected me.
In 2009 my husband and I decided to move to Haiti to serve as missionaries after visiting an orphanage there. We arrived in Haiti on October 27, 2009. Only two months later, a powerful earthquake struck Haiti. I was there when it happened.
We lived about one hour away from the epicenter on the other side of the mountain in a small beachy village named Jacmel. The earthquake brought a massive amount of chaos to the people on the island. And we were not spared from its effects. Being ex-pats with white skin and access to resources in the United States forced us to focus on serving the people and bringing aid rather than sort out what had just happened to ourselves. It was an experience that shook us forever.
But the earthquake wasn’t the only thing that rocked our world that year. In April, our 4-year-old daughter got sick, forcing us to leave Haiti behind for a time. We had no idea what was wrong with her, but we saw her going from a happy and healthy child to a sickly little girl who looked almost like a skeleton. With the help of some friends, I flew back to the states with her and took her to Miami Children’s Hospital, where doctors and nurses spent an entire night doing all sorts of exams on her. What I thought was going to be a quick visit to the states ended up being a ten-month cancer treatment.
Our daughter had stage four neuroblastoma, a childhood cancer that ended up taking her life before her fifth birthday.
I wish I could say that was the end of our suffering. It wasn’t. Just a month before our daughter died, I found out I was pregnant. And once again, I found myself with very little or no time to grieve a loss and let sort the pain going on inside of me. I had a new baby coming and no time to think about my loss.
So we moved on. Life moved on. Pain or no pain, there was a world out there waiting to be rescued, and once again, we packed our bags and returned to Haiti. It wasn’t like someone forced me to return. I wanted to go. I didn’t want to face grief. I didn’t know how to face it. So I pushed my emotions away and chose to focus on someone else’s pain instead.
We arrived in Haiti in September of 2011 with a different family configuration. We left with two little girls; we came back with a seven-year-old girl and a baby boy. Then tragedy struck again, and once again, we were shaken to the core. In October, a band of robbers assaulted us in our home with weapons, shooting carelessly, and demanding our money.
It was here, at this very moment, that I realized how broken I was. I couldn’t handle the stress anymore. We had three encounters with death. Three separate moments, one after the other, where I felt I was to crack. And I couldn’t even pretend that I was alright. I honestly wasn’t. And this was only the beginning, the beginning of a series of moments when I felt I was no longer in control nor strong enough. I began to be constantly worried about losing something or someone.
For a time, I questioned God, I doubted my faith, and my anxiety began to grow.
And as I moved from country to country, doing missions work, anxiety made itself comfortable in my soul, and I was unaware of its power over me.
And as I moved from country to country, doing missions work, anxiety made itself comfortable in my soul, and I was unaware of its power over me. At times I attributed my feelings to cultural shock. Or getting old or having toddlers past the age of 40. But it was neither cultural shock nor my kids. It was as is anxiety, fear of the great unknown. Fear of losing something or someone again. Fear of another move. Fear of not having a home. And as this fear grew more and more inside of me, it became something that pretty evident to others.
It was evident to me. It was apparent to my husband. And it was clear to my oldest daughter who is now old enough to notice that something isn’t quite right.
I wish I could say that I have the answer or the fix to anxiety. I confess that as the world turns more and more away from God, I have more moments of intense worry and concern. After my little boy, I gave birth to a little girl. She is five years old now. The more I see how secularism and progressive ideas as taking over, the more I worry about their future. I can’t help but wish that I could spare them from much of the pain they might face out there.
But I am also learning to trust God. I am thankful that He has not and will not cast me away simply because I am a broken woman. He has accepted me even in my brokenness. He has revealed His plan to me through His word. He is my comfort, my hope, my strength during those times when I needed him the most. When I struggle with anxiety, He covers me with His love.
“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.”1 Peter 5:6-7
I love the scripture in 1 Peter 5:6-7 that says, “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.”
In these verses, I read that that the way of humbling myself is to cast my anxieties on Him because He cares for me. Humility then turns to mean to come to Him, as one comes to a trusted friend or a father, and tell Him honestly how I feel and what is bothering me because He is very concerned for my well-being. He loves me.
So even though I don’t have an immediate solution to my anxiety, I do have a Father who cares.
Anxiety entered my life when I least expected it nor wanted it. And it doesn’t seem to want to go away. But I am finding ways to work around it so that it doesn’t have to take over my life. And with God’s help, I can move forward and embrace those moments of joy that life brings my way.
While anxiety is often my weakness, Christ is my daily strength!