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A few weeks ago my mom reminded me of Psalm 91. I was anxious, and I knew a lot of my anxiety was of the irrational type.
I’ve talked about anxiety a little bit on my blog before, but not in great detail. I think mostly because I’m not quit sure how to write about anxiety yet. Everyone’s experience with it is so different, and I don’t want to demean or diminish or misconstrue such an important and difficult thing.
I know for me, anxiety is sometimes expected—like when I have a book deadline—and sometimes it’s unexpected—like when I’m standing in the airport security line. I start to panic but don’t know why. And I have to tell myself little, simple truths like, “You’re safe. You’re OK. You’re breathing.”
To some of you, that sounds odd. To some of you, that sounds like last Tuesday.
You have experienced fear in strange places too, like the grocery store, when you’re dropping your kids off at school, when you’re walking into work or a doctor’s appointment or getting in your car.
“You’re safe. You’re ok. You’re breathing.”– Those are such obvious things, but in my moments of panic, I don’t believe these things to be true. I have to actually remind myself of them, slow down and repeat the truth to myself over and over until my brain and body agree, and I calm down.
My mom, who has a lot of wisdom in the area of anxiety, told me to read Psalm 91 after I told her about what happened in the airport security line. This part from verse four struck me:
“His truth shall be your shield.”
Truth as a shield.
Isn’t this what I had done in my unexpected moment of panic? You’re ok. You’re safe. You’re breathing. I told myself truths to protect myself. When I read this, I wondered what it would look like for His truth to be my shield?
Just looking at Psalm 91, and not even the rest of the Bible, we can learn a lot about God, who He is and what that means for us:
He is a refuge
He is a fortress
He shall deliver you
He shall cover you
You are safe from the arrow that flies by day
You are safe from the pestilence that walks in darkness
You are safe from the destruction that lays waste at noonday
Evil will not befall you
He has given His angels charge over you
He will answer you
He will show you His salvation
Considering these passages, I think using God’s truth as a shield could look like this: If this is true about God, who He is and what that means for me, then this thing that feels very real and true in the moment, actually is not. For example…
If He is my refuge, then I am not out here alone, left to my own devices.
If He covers me, what others say and do may hurt me now, but they do not determine who I am.
If He answers me, then I am not calling out into the void for help. He is there, active, listening and working.
You fill in the blanks now:
If He ______, then _______.
The truth about God can actually protect you like a shield, fending off arrows, whatever form those arrows come in and whenever they begin to take flight.
We have to repeat it to ourselves often, for we are quick to forget. But the truth, friends, is on your side.