How religion invalidated my anxiety as a child
I grew up in a very religious (and arguably toxic) environment. When I was a child and until my young adult years, I had no idea that the things I was being taught were unhealthy. It is only now, as an adult, that I can look back and see how the things I was taught were damaging to me as a very anxious child.
Let me begin by saying that I am simply telling a tale of my childhood and how religion negatively impacted my life. I understand that religion is still a very positive thing for many people, and it was once for me as well, but that was a long time ago. I am sharing my experiences and by no means trying to argue with anyone about religion. I also want to note that when I am talking about the adults in my life as a child I am not talking about my parents. They were great, it was all the other ones.
I have had anxiety for as long as I can remember, but it went undiagnosed until I was 25.
As soon as I could read, I was handed a Bible. I knew all of the major Bible stories from a very young age and I knew that in order to be a good kid, I had to believe in God.
Fear plays a large role in the Bible. Christians are taught to fear God so that they follow his commandments. Christians are taught that fear of God is a gift and generally regarded as a positive thing. There is a teaching that if you fear God enough, then you won’t fear death and things of the world. To put it plainly, if I feared God, and I was a ‘good Christian child”, then I shouldn’t be afraid of anything else.
At least… That’s what I was taught. If I listed all of the Bible verses about fear this blog would be a mile long, but here is one that I heard a lot growing up.
“Perfect love drives out fear,” -1 John 4:18.
And a question I always had about that verse as a child was; If God’s love is perfect, then why would we need to fear him? But that is a discussion for another day. I digress.