Image courtesy of saphatthachat at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
I have struggled with anxiety and depression all my life. You might say it’s in my DNA. Growing up, I watched my dad wrestle with it, although at the time I didn’t know what it was called. We didn’t talk about it. Men of his generation would never admit to suffering with anxiety and paralyzing fear.
I had a front row seat to see how it limited my dad’s life and how his world shrunk smaller and smaller as he got older. As parents do, he passed on his predisposition to anxiety to his children. “Don’t do that! The neighbors will laugh at you!” “You don’t know how to do that!” “Don’t do something unless you can do it right!” “Close the drapes! Someone might look in the house.” The mantra he spoke over us imprinted deep on our souls.
We grew up afraid to try anything for fear that someone would laugh at us. We never thought we were good enough. Because he was a perfectionist, we could never do anything right or please him in any way. The sad thing was that dad was always hardest on himself. He never thought he was good enough. He thought people looked down on him. He bristled at imaginary slights. He thought people were watching him in anticipation of his failure.
The man was a genius mechanic and could literally fix or build anything. He had a patent for an invention he called an “Energy Conversion Apparatus”. The tragic thing is that his intolerance for imperfection and unrealistically high expectations prevented him from passing any of those skills on to his children or grandchildren. What a loss.
As kids we didn’t understand that he was suffering. We only knew that we could never measure up. It created a tremendous sense of insecurity in all of us, along with deep-seated feelings of unworthiness and shame.
It wasn’t until many years later, through the lens of God’s grace that I was able to see my dad as a human being tormented by feelings of inadequacy and fear of failure. God gave me such love and acceptance for my dad. The last ten years of his life I was blessed to be able to make the 160 mile round trip to visit with my parents every other weekend. God allowed me to speak words of affirmation and acceptance into his battered heart. I sat and listened to him tell his story. I spoke of God’s grace and forgiveness. I boldly told him I loved him. I held his hand.
Image courtesy of worradmu at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Even today my eyes fill with tears at the thought of holding his hand.
My dad was a wonderful, complex human being who fought a daily battle with a fierce enemy that he felt helpless to overcome. Maybe some of you are fighting that same battle. I fought it myself for many years.
There is victory. Your life doesn’t have to be limited by your insecurities and fears. Anxiety does not have to rule your life. In my next post I will share with you how God transformed my life from one of insecurity and anxiety to freedom and peace.