Spiraling out of Perfectionism

I have always been an observer. I like to sit back and watch what is going on rather than be in the center of it all. When I take a step back and gain enough distance to observe the church as a body, or even just the UGA Wesley Foundation as a body, there are motifs which occur in my observations.

I have seen a large portion of our body, myself included, struggling with anxiety. I have seen the frustration that is born from an incessantly repetitive prayer life of asking for freedom from crippling anxiety. As days stack up into weeks or months without freedom or change, the questions arise.

“Why isn’t God answering my prayers?”

“Are my prayers not good enough for me to be set free?”

“Why isn’t the church helping me with my mental health? Someone telling me to pray about it doesn’t help when I am praying and nothing is happening.”

“What is wrong with me if I keep praying but see no change?”

The frustrating lack of progress can lead to a spiraling session of questions, until everything begins to unravel. Faith in God as a healer might feel empty when you can’t break free from the cage of your mind.

And this is the very moment when the enemy strikes. Just like with Eve in the garden, he asks if God really said what we believe He said. The enemy whispers that you have to hide your brokenness to get God’s love. He convinces us that we need to hide the brokenness to be accepted by each other or by God.

But here’s the thing:
“Trying to hide your brokenness doesn’t make you any less broken, it just takes you out of the position of getting help.” – Aaron Vickroy

I think that so much of our anxiety comes from trying to hide our brokenness. It comes from believing that Jesus only wants the ones who have it all together, because that is sometimes the example that has been set in our churches.

The spiraling stops mid-spin when you realize that no amount of brokenness can exclude you from God’s love. He actually says that he came to “bind up the brokenhearted” (Isaiah 61:1).

He sees you and He is caring for you, even if you can’t feel it in that moment. You still might not be able to explain why He is allowing you to battle in this way, but your faith is a declaration not an explanation. If you could explain and understand everything God is doing, He would not be the infinite God we trust Him to be.

Now that the unravelling has stopped, it is easier to begin putting the foundation back in place. You find the places you can stand firm by discovering the truth that God has spoken to you.

“So brokenness is ok? Does that mean God wants me to live in brokenness?”

No. He came to “proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners” (Isaiah 61:1). He came for you.

For the one who has reached the end of their rope with prayer. He came for you.

For the one who has battled the darkness and given up hope. He came for you.

For the one who doesn’t want any more empty words or platitudes. He came for you.

He came for the brokenhearted, but he came to bind them up so that they could be made new.

“I feel like I haven’t found freedom from anxiety even when I have been involved in the church.”

Maybe the church was never meant to free us from anxiety. They can only lead people to the one who can provide freedom. That doesn’t mean that there isn’t room for growth in the way the church deals with anxiety and mental health. There are definitely areas where we all make mistakes, but it is worth trying again.

A caveat: I have seen people healed from anxiety through the power of prayer. I have seen people healed from anxiety through medication and counseling. I have seen prayers for healing answered through finding the right medication to give people freedom. Needing medication is not giving up on prayer; it is an answer to prayer. It is a tool that God has provided, and He will continue providing tools to grant you freedom.

There are definitely issues with the way we approach freedom from anxiety if we are making people feel that they are failing in prayer if they need help. God provides help for us in answer to prayers.

I actually had a conversation with someone recently about how she felt that it was a struggle to have helpful conversations about healing in the church, because she felt that many people she talked to encouraged just masking the issues or brushing them under the rug.

I think that this is where we can run into issues. We like our lives being ordered and mess-free, so we try to keep a semblance of control by hiding the mess and the pain. In the end, though, this is more problematic than helpful. Sometimes unraveling is good.

Sometimes it feels like you are spinning out of control, when really God is just unravelling the lies so you can begin to replace them with truth.

Author | Mackenzie Wells





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