woman walking on beach

The First Step to Healing

For several years now, I’ve suffered from anxiety.

To be honest, I didn’t know that’s what it was at first.  Call it stress, call it busy-ness, call it obsessive-compulsiveness, or perfectionism — I called it all those things.  Anything but anxiety.  To me, anxiety signified weakness.  And I did NOT want to admit to being weak.

Apparently, however, there are certain physical reactions of the body which can indicate anxiety.  And every medical professional I saw confirmed it.  Diagnosis:  anxiety.

The worst part of all of it — and the part which finally forced me to go for help — was losing my voice.

I should clarify.  I can still sing and I can still speak.  But with singing, I usually have to force the voice and I end up with so much tension in my chest and ribcage that it’s sore afterwards.  For speaking, I often have a hitch or a catch where the vocal cords just don’t respond.  I’ve learned to recognize when it’s coming and force myself to take a breath or just to pause.  No one listening to me would even be able to notice.  But I notice.  Depending on the anxiety level of the situation, I often have to consider and intentionally form every syllable to emerge from my lips.  It can be exhausting.

Since this started happening — this weakening of my voice — I have prayed for healing.  That God would please just give my voice back.  I love to sing.  I trained to sing.

Once I found out that the voice problems were caused by anxiety, I started earnestly pleading — for healing from anxiety.  And God,  pleeeeeease. . . give me my voice back?

I’ve heard more sermons than I can count on the topic of “do not worry” and have had well-meaning pastors and teachers tell me that worry is a sin and that the Bible says don’t be anxious — so just don’t be, for cryin’ out loud!  Pray harder, try harder, give it all to God, have more faith, etc.

Maybe it’s that easy for some people.  But not when everything in your physical body is geared up for a fight or flight response.

There had to be another way.

When God’s Plan Looks Different Than Yours

I’m not sure how long God has been calling me to get my stories out there.  To write, to speak, to teach.  I now know it’s been longer than I initially thought.  Dulled to His voice, I just assumed the words and stories in my head were symptoms of an overactive thought life and imagination.

But now that I’ve started letting the words out, I realize the truth — this was God’s call all along.

God doesn’t give a story — a living, breathing testimony — and never expect you to use it.

I held on to my words so tightly that I was nearly buried beneath the weight of them.  My life, ruled by fear of what people would think — by fear of not being good enough — by fear of anyone knowing my true heart and thoughts and making assumptions about my character — almost suffocated me.

And that’s when Jesus finally got my attention.  He approached me as I lay there, gasping for breath, desperate for healing.  Like the man at the pool of Bethesda.  Maybe you’re familiar with the story?

The fifth chapter of John’s gospel says the man had been an invalid for 38 years.  Jesus found him beside the pool and asked “Do you want to get well?”  And the man, instead of saying, “Yes, please heal me now!” replied to Jesus, “No one will help me get into the water.  People keep getting in front of me.”

For 38 years, he let others hold him back.  For 38 years he refused to ask for help.  For 38 years he sat on his mat, hoping that maybe today would be his lucky day and he would get his big break — but that day never came.

And then Jesus did something surprising.  He didn’t reach out and touch the man and heal him with his hands.  He looked at him — right into him— and said, “Well, what are you waiting for?  Pick up your mat and walk.”

Something about the way Jesus said it must have made the lame man believe it was possible — if only for a moment.

But he also must’ve know that Jesus wasn’t going to heal him as long as he stayed put.  He was going to have to get up.

So he did the very thing that Jesus compelled him to do:  he picked up his mat and started walking.

Do You Want to Get Well?

God’s been speaking to me — giving me stories, and words, and lines, and truths — for as long as I can remember.  Like the lame man, I’ve been sitting on those words for at least 38 years.  Maybe more.  But my mat is one of fear.  I’ve been paralyzed by the terror of other people’s opinions, knowing that I can’t do what I need to do on my own, but too scared to ask for help.  Too afraid to risk it.

The pressure of just sitting there and waiting for things to change grew until it became a massive cancer of anxiety — one that worked its way into every cell of my body.

And then Jesus — {shouldn’t every great sentence begin that way?}

And then Jesus — looked at me — right into me — and simply asked, “Sheri, do you want to get well?”

He knew when He asked that I had come to the end of my rope.

“Pick up your mat and walk.” 

So I did it.  Finally, after 38+ years of hoping,  I picked up my pen and started to write, to tell my story.  I picked up my mat and started to walk.

What I thought was impossible all along — is happening.  But it took that moment of desperation.  It took me saying no to fear and saying yes to God.

After years of making excuses, hemming and hawing and taking up residence on the mat of discontent and apprehension —  I said yes.  I got up and took that first wobbly step.

I’ve had more healing in my body in the last four weeks since I started writing this blog than I’ve had in the last four years.  Praise be to God!  

The anxiety releases its grip with each word I type — because I’m finally– finally!– releasing control to the One who’s totally got my back.  The only One who is able to keep me from falling.  The One with healing in His hands.

Right now I’m reading The Wall Around Your Heart by Mary Demuth.  This quote in particular seemed so timely:

“If you will allow Him, He will heal you, strengthen you, and give you the abundant life He promised.  But first you must let go of the healing process, of managing it in your own strength.  Give Him the reins of your healing.”

2 sided leaf divider

What is the mat that you’re holding on to today?  What situation or circumstance has you tied down and afraid?  How do you need to simply say #yes to God and do the impossible?

It’s time.  Pick up your mat, dear one, and walk.

signature smaller





Opt In Image
Subscribe today and get your free copy of 'Redefining the Quiet Time!'
It's just the refresher course your soul needs!

Want more?

Subscribe to get new posts delivered right to your inbox and never miss a note!

  • Julie

    Oh wow. your words have touched this heart here in Australia. I have been struggling and have recently “taken up my mat”.

    your writing has so encouraged me today to keep picking it up….

    • Sheri Dacon

      Julie, thanks for reading! I’m glad my little blog encouraged you! Your comment encouraged me this morning as well!

  • Dorothy Farmer

    Sheri, Once again the flow of words from your heart was surely created in the bosom of the Lord. You have a way of connecting those words to a real live situation. This is what God wants you to be sharing. So there can be far fewer pallets(Mats) than there are now. I’m shaking the dust off mine, never again to get down there on it again, Or at least I’m giving it my best effort.

  • Kay Magar

    Thanks Sheri – another wonderful post. I think I may use some of your blog posts as discussion starters at our Women’s Retreat this Fall. Let me know if that’s okay with you! Love, Kay

  • Kay Magar

    Thanks Sheri – another wonderful post. I think I may use some of your blog posts as discussion starters at our Women’s Retreat this Fall. Let me know if that’s okay with you! Move, Kay

    • Sheri Dacon

      That’s absolutely okay with me!! If you want, maybe I can get some printed materials together for you to hand out with my blog address on them.

  • Larry Pool

    Wonderful. God has not given us a spirit of fear but of power. I am glad you have gotten up and begun to pen these words. I am so proud of you.

  • Angie Keener

    Very thankful that you “picked up your mat and walked”! You are blessing the rest of us with your story and your courage to walk in faith, even as imperfectly as it seems at times. Love you, Sheri!

    • Sheri Dacon

      Love you, too, dear friend!

  • Larry Pool

    Another beautiful, well worded post of the surety of God’s promise. We must always remind ourselves that God has not given us a spirit of fear but of power.