When Anxiety Makes Your Mind Run Wild

I-94 MapI could tell by his side of the conversation that I was not going to like what my husband was about to tell me. He hung up the phone and proceeded to inform me that a company he recently rented equipment to was ready for him to come do a pick-up.

“I have to be there tomorrow at noon,” he said.

“But we have to take Beth to the airport tomorrow,” I said as my stomach started to tangle into a great big knot.

“You’re right,” he said. “Looks like you’ll have to get her there by yourself.”

Make that two knots…

Our dear friend Beth was visiting from China. I was already dreading the next day when we would have to say good-bye. This was not the way I wanted our time together to end…with the three of us not together. With me alone on the highway.

I have this little thing I like to call “1-94 Anxiety” or perhaps you could call it “Highway Anxiety” in general. It’s not that I don’t love to drive, I do. I love moments in the car by myself. Moments to listen to a favorite CD or enjoy a little peace and quiet. When I lived in the south, free of young children, with family and friends nearby, I never hesitated to hop in the car and drive the two to six hours that carried me their way.

But there are other forms of driving I don’t enjoy. Driving by myself, in the middle of winter, with two small children, a nine-month pregnant belly, and my husband hours away is not my cup of tea.

I know this might seem silly. I know millions of people do this every single day. I know, at least on some level, this is nothing I can’t handle…but…

But…what if something were to happen?

What if we had an accident? A flat tire?

What if I ended up stranded?

Just one week ago a 150-car pile up occurred on the same highway I would be traveling…what would I do if this happened to me?

In no time flat my imagination kicked in the very worse way. I pictured myself traipsing through snow with two young children behind me. I pictured myself trying to fix a flat tire with a belly as round as beach ball, and stretchers loading all three of us into an ambulance parked beside our mangled van.

Anxiety and fear can do this, make our imaginations run wild. They can paint a vivid reality, a clear-cut future, that hasn’t even happened.

I believe our imagination is a gift from God, it’s a beautiful and powerful thing but this is never the way God intended for our imaginations to be used. This is why the scriptures tell us, “take captive every thought.” (2 Corinthians 10:5)

When we fail to take thoughts like these captive we set ourselves up for all kinds of stress, all kinds of worry, fear, and torture. And for what? For something that isn’t true. For a future that doesn’t exist.

In Jesus Calling, Sarah Young writes,

“As you anticipate what is ahead of you, you forget that I am with you—now and always. Rehearsing your troubles results in experiencing them many times, whereas you are meant to go through them only when they actually occur. Do not multiply your suffering in this way! Instead, come to Me, and relax in My Peace.”

Instead of allowing our anxieties and imaginations to rule our thoughts God wants us to stay close to Him. To come to Him with all our fears, anxiety, and doubts and trust that we could never be more loved, never be more safe and secure than we are with Him.

This is what’s real. This is the future we have. A future, a reality, where God is present and always by our side. He loves us. And because He loves us we have nothing to fear.

In the end, my husband was able to get up early, do his pick-up, and get home in time to go with us to the airport. My worry, my anxiety, my fearsome imagination was literally all for nothing. God worked everything out in perfect detail. All I really needed to do, all along, was trust in Him.

So how about you? What makes you anxious? What fuels your imagination to run wild in all the wrong ways? What scares you or looms in your future?

Instead of letting your imagination run wild with all that could wrong, let your imagination run wild into the arms of Jesus. Into all that is good, and true, and right.

With Him you can face anything…I-94 included.