“I’m with a loving, wonderful partner but my anxiety started a few months into the relationship (once I realized that it was serious). We’ve been together for five years and I’ve been struggling with anxiety the entire time. Is my anxiety a sign that God doesn’t want me to be with this person? I can’t figure out what else it could be – although finding your site has helped me start to put some pieces into place. I’m so scared that I’m not following God’s will by staying with my partner but the last thing I want to do it leave him. Help!”
Let me start by saying that if there are any red-flags – abuse, addiction, or misalignment of core values – your anxiety may, indeed, be carrying a message that it’s time to get out or, at the very least, telling you to put on the breaks and seek counseling. But of the thousands of people who have found their way to my work over the years, only a tiny percentage of them fall into this red-flag category. The rest of them invariably describe their partners as honest, loving, caring, kind, hardworking, available, and, before the anxiety hit, had a sense that this was someone with whom they could spend the rest of their life. When that’s the case, the anxiety is not a sign from God to get out, but a sign from the soul to go inside and address the fears and false beliefs that are trying to prevent you from making yourself vulnerable by taking the risk of loving.
If you’ve been raised in organized religion, you likely developed a belief that God exists outside of you as an all-knowing and guiding force, and your job is to determine God’s will and allow God to lead you to your destiny. While this belief may have helped as a child to create a sense of safety and predictability, as an adult on the threshold of the biggest decision of your life (who you’ll marry) this belief abdicates your responsibility and, consequently, leaves you disempowered. In other words, it puts you in a childlike position where God is the all-knowing parent who holds the cards about what’s best for you and you, by some unknowable method, need to divine the “right” answer.
Let me break this down according to another belief system:
God, in a word, is love. If God is love and we were created in God’s image, then God wants us to manifest love on Earth. What better way to manifest love than through choosing a loving, supportive partner with whom you share values, vision, and connection? Are you with a loving partner? Do you support each other’s highest good? Then choosing to marry this person is what God would want for you.
God lives inside of us. God is also around us all the time, like swimming in a pool of invisible love, but the essence of God lives inside each of us. When you ask the question, “Is it God’s will that I marry my partner?”, what you’re really asking is, “When I’m most connected to my loving and truthful self, do I believe it’s a loving choice to marry my partner?” I understand that when you’re in an anxious state your wounded, fear-based self will try to undo this deeper sense of knowing and convince you of all sorts of lies (you never loved him enough, you’re settling, you’re just staying with her because you’re scared to be alone), but if you think back to times before your wounded self slid into the driver’s seat of your mind you’ll quickly remember that inside of you lives the knowing that you’re making a loving choice.
God gave us free will, which means that each one of us has the power to make choices for our lives. God is not your parent; God is a source of guidance, truth, and love. Because most of us were raised by parents and educational systems that failed to nurture our innate sense of self-trust but instead encouraged us to abdicate our authority and knowing to the big people, as adults we naturally attribute God as another “big person” and assign the same belief that “God knows best” (just like Father knows best). This isn’t what free will means. Free will mean you have the will to choose. As one of the my E-Course members shared:
One of the gifts of anxiety is that if you embrace the invitation to grow, you learn how to step into your adulthood. You learn how to trust yourself. You learn that there are no mistakes and no right or wrong choices but only opportunities for growth and learning. And hopefully you learn how to relate to God not as a an authority outside of you but as a loving source of wisdom and guidance, a piece of which lives inside of you.