Writing Through Anxiety

Today’s post is written by Christian author Sara Beth Williams.

My life, since February of 2018, has been in major upheaval. Five months before my first novel was published, three family deaths occurred. In November, 2018, my brother moved two thousand miles away.

That’s when I began to notice symptoms of anxiety.

All of this occurred a year after I’d penned a three-novel series, which included most of what is now Anchor My Heart.

Anchor My Heart tells the story of Matt Lawson and Tara Pierce. Matt has lost everything. In the wake of a life-altering tragedy, anxiety from his childhood rears its ugly head, making it difficult to cope with reality.

I don’t like to throw the term anxiety around lightly. I didn’t really acknowledge that I had anxiety for over a year and I don’t suffer from major anxiety. The reason I point that out is because it is important to acknowledge the difference between severe and mild.  

Now that I have had three years to reflect, I realize that mild anxiety has always been part of my life, to some extent. Instances throughout college, and particularly after my first child was born, which I couldn’t truly explain, now make so more sense, in light of my ability to self-reflect.

I had never experienced real, raw, and intense grief, until the year When Hearts Collide, my first novel, was published. When Hearts Collide, and Anchor My Heart both deal with grief. Before writing Anchor My Heart, I’d never experienced major anxiety.

But God, in His infinite wisdom and love and knowledge, prompted me and inspired me to write these stories that deal so heavily with grief and anxiety because He knew. He knew I was going to walk through similar experiences.It almost felt like a future me had written journal entries to the past me.

In 2019, I returned to my third manuscript, combed through Matt’s experiences again, revised, enhanced the emotional reactions based on experiences I was still enduring throughout that year and then sent it off to my editor. It was raw, beautiful and romantic, but had a terrible title at the time. I knew I had time to fix that.

In March, 2020, as I was going through one of my mom’s old journals which has a nautical theme, I found this verse:

“We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.”

Hebrews 6:19(NIV)

The words anchor and hope stuck with me for months. As I waded through edits from my critique group, and later my editor, I knew the theme of my book was finding hope through extreme trials. But that hope isn’t just plain wishful thinking. I knew, for these two characters, it had to be an assurance in something greater than themselves.

I strongly believe God brings revelations to us at just the right time. For me, reading that verse in early 2020 was exactly when I needed to read that verse. Not any sooner. Not any later. This verse has been a blessing to me.

For over a year, I thought my own journey had culminated around the release of Anchor My Heart. I had, after all, published three novels in so many years while dealing with significant trauma that resulted in symptoms of anxiety. But my journey of writing through anxiety goes beyond Anchor My Heart. It began before if I’m honest, and it still continues. In fact, it’s less about anxiety and more about persevering, regardless of my own personal obstacles, mental, physical, or otherwise.

 I’d be a fool to think the troubles in this world will suddenly cease.

And they haven’t. My family suffered two more deaths in 2021, causing more upheaval and uncertainty.

I don’t say any of this to bring feelings of pity. I write from a a place of honesty. Troubles will come in the night. But the joy of the Lord comes in the morning. Does that mean my anxiety goes away instantly? That, like our walk of faith, is a daily battle. Self-awareness, recapturing my thoughts and speaking truth into my mind, and self-reflection are three major keys that help me every single day.

I want to circle back to mild anxiety versus severe. Severe anxiety may require medication. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. You may benefit from therapy. There is nothing wrong with that. Practicing self-awareness and speaking truth into your mind while you are stable and sound are two helpful methods which help protect your mind. Remember, the Bible gives us the tools in Ephesians 6, including the sword of the spirit which is the Word of God. (Ephesians 6:17) 

It is almost impossible while you are elevated to practice such things. There are a plethora of books on anxiety, but I want to plug one here that I found extremely helpful, called Victory over Anxiety by Dr. Andrea Ganahl.

What’s next for me?

Where am I going now?

I’ve been sitting on these questions since January. I have all these great plans for two new book series, and plans for my own entrepreneurship, but right now, I think what I really need… is to continue to rest and to seek the Lord more. And that’s okay. Because God grants rest to the weary and heals the broken hearted and I wouldn’t be writing without His guidance. So, I will wait on him.

About Sara Beth Williams

Sara Beth Williams is a contemporary Christian romance author, an ACFW member, wife, mother of two daughters, and dog mom of a spunky Pomeranian-Shih Tzu mix. Two of her three novels have been nominated for a Selah Award, A Worthy Heart (2020) and Anchor My Heart (2022). She lives in Northern California. When she’s not held hostage by the keyboard, she enjoys playing guitar, reading, and spending time with her family. Find out more about Sara Beth Williams here. https://linktr.ee/sarabethwrites

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https://www.amazon.com/Anchor-Heart-Sara-Beth-Williams-ebook/dp/B08X1GBKSD/

Nominated for a 2022 Selah Award

In the aftermath of tragic loss, worship leader Matt Lawson is grappling debilitating anxiety. Tara Pierce is ready to put past hurts behind her as she prepares to graduate college and take a leap of faith in her career. When Matt’s grief causes him to isolate himself from everyone he knows, she refuses to stand idly by and do nothing. Unexpected attraction flares as Tara reaches into the sea of Matt’s grief and helps ground him in reality. But Matt’s not ready to give himself away again.

Victory over Anxiety Book Review

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