Beauty and Trust: Dealing with Anxiety
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Jamie GraceJamie Grace is a two-time Grammy-nominated singer, songwriter, and actress. Diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome, OCD, ADHD, and anxiety at a young age, Jamie actively advocates for joy, wellness, and mental health through the lens of music, film, and faith. An entertainer at heart, she regularly creates fresh content, including new music and weekly videos and episodes of The Jamie Grace Podcast. When she isn't touring, Jamie lives in Southern California with her husband, Aaron, and daughter, Isabe...more
Award-winning musician Jamie Grace knows gritty realities of dealing with anxiety. Could God use your anxiety, like hers, to shape bedrock trust and beauty?
Beauty and Trust: Dealing with Anxiety
FamilyLife Today® National Radio Version (time edited) Transcript
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Beauty and Trust: Dealing with Anxiety
Guest: Jamie Grace
From the series: Jamie Grace: Finding Quiet (Day 1 of 2)
Air date: February 28, 2022
Jamie: I was nine years old when my anxiety first started. It was just this feeling of being worried, but it was a worry that I couldn’t get rid of; and it was a stress that I couldn't get rid of. But to be sitting there—and find out: “Well, no, this is an anxiety disorder,”—was so much more frustrating than I could have prepared myself for.
Ann: Welcome to FamilyLife Today, where we want to help you pursue the relationships that matter most. I’m Ann Wilson.
Dave: And I’m Dave Wilson, and you can find us at FamilyLifeToday.com or on our FamilyLife® app.
Ann: This is FamilyLife Today.
Dave: Alright, let’s talk about the last time you experienced like real anxiety.
Ann: This morning.
Dave: This morning—that wasn’t anxiety—that was anger.
Ann: It was both, actually.
Dave: Go ahead and tell them.
Ann: You have not been feeling well. I was going to bed last night, knowing you’re sick. I have this water beside the sink, because I take my vitamins every night. I take the water and I think, “If Dave wakes up in the middle of the night, he’s going to drink my water; and then I’m going to get sick if he drinks from my glass.” So I take my cup—it has ice and water in it—and I put it in the closet.
So next morning, I’m drinking out of that cup. I take my vitamins again. I’m walking around the house with the cup; and Dave says to me, “That’s not your cup; is it?” I’m like, “What do you mean? It’s always my cup, yes.” He goes, “Oh, well, I drank out of it last night.” I’m like, “It was in the closet! Why would you go—
Dave: Yes, I wondered why it was in the closet, like, “Where’s her cup? Oh, it’s in the closet,”—drink—then I drank my/took my NyQuil®.
Ann: And then why wouldn’t you tell me, “Hey, I drank from your cup”?
Dave: I did think, “Why is this cup in a closet with ice?” I thought you put it there for me; it’s like, “How considerate of my wife to put a little glass of water…”
Ann: I don’t even understand. [Laughter]
Dave: Anyway, we’re bringing all of this up, because we’ve got a guest in the studio today. Jamie Grace is with us at FamilyLife Today. Welcome to FamilyLife Today, Jamie.
Jamie: I’m now like convinced that is the perfect Lifetime movie intro. [Laughter]
Dave: Jamie’s written a book called Finding Quiet: My Journey to Peace in an Anxious World. That’s why I brought up this anxiety thing: it’s like Jamie’s written this crazy great book about it, finding peace in the middle of anxiety.
I know a lot of our listeners know who you are, Jamie, but I did not know—two-time Grammy nominated songwriter, singer, actress—you’ve got it all going on.
Ann: You have your own podcast. What’s the podcast called?
Jamie: It’s called The Jamie Grace Podcast—really original. [Laughter] I was like, “I’m going to take my name: slap ‘podcast’ at the end of it.”
Ann: I’m going to start listening; I bet you are really fun.
But what you’ve written about—man, it’s something a lot of us face and we deal with, especially in [this] day and age—with your subtitle: My Journey to Peace in an Anxious World.
Ann: So when I talk to you, I’m like, “You’re so positive; you’re really upbeat; you’re really fun.” But this is something that you’ve really struggled with and dealt with. So take us back; we want to hear your story.
Jamie: Yes, ma’am; yes.
Ann: Take us back into: “Where did this all start?”
Jamie: It’s definitely a journey, as you said; and as it’s kind of mentioned in the book, I get quite frustrated that it’s a journey at times. I’m a very pro-therapy person. I was, literally, talking with my therapist last week; she’s so cool. We were just talking, and I mentioned something; and she was like, “Oh, I think this could be you might be worried about ‘X,’ ‘Y,’ ‘Z.’” I looked at her and I was like, “Oh, no; I’ve already dealt with that. [Laughter] I dealt with that like five years ago in therapy, so I’m good.”
Jamie: She and I just got in this almost comical conversation about just like sometimes we forget that it is a journey. We forget that, sometimes, we might have this anxiety about something—and then we feel better about it—and it’s like, “Okay, I don’t have to deal with that anymore.” But then something comes up; and all of a sudden, we’re thinking about that anxiety again.
That started for me as a kid. I was nine years old when my anxiety first started. It was just this feeling of being worried, but it was a worry that I couldn’t get rid of; and it was a stress that I couldn't get rid of. I am a pastor’s kid. My mom and dad started our church when I was about two years old. I grew up in church and I had, even at nine years old, I had a very significant confidence in Jesus.
Ann: I love you start your book/you say, “When I was seven, I made a decision to love Jesus for the rest of my life;—
Ann: —“and when I was eleven, I was diagnosed with anxiety.”
Jamie: Yes; to be sitting there—and find out like: “Well, no, this is an anxiety disorder,”—was so much more frustrating than I could have prepared myself for; because as a follower of Jesus, you kind of, at least as a kid, just the practicality of: “Oh, you pray for something; and God helps you with it,” or “Oh, you need something, and the Bible gives you the tools to deal with it,” or “That’s just kind of how it works.” [Laughter]
So having a generalized anxiety disorder is like, literally, being almost given this pass to: “Oh, no; you’re going to be panicking about stuff a lot.” This has crossed the threshold of an everyday awkward and has moved into: “We can actually show you that your chemical imbalance in your brain and worry is unfortunately a part of your everyday life.”
Ann: Yes; what did it look like? You say, “worry.”
Jamie: It would be from my mom would say something like: “Okay,”—so we’re homeschooled; right?—my mom would be like: “Okay, so we’re going to hop in the car; and we’re going to do a field trip today. We’re going to go to a museum and learn about ‘X,’ ‘Y,’ ‘Z.’” Within 30 seconds, my mind already processed the statistics that can happen—of car accidents in the car—and processed like:
- “Okay, what could happen if we get to the museum, and I can’t remember everything that I learned? Am I not smart enough? Am I not good enough?”
- Like: “Oh, am I homeschooled because I can’t go to regular school like everybody else because I don’t have any friends? Oh, nobody likes me.”
- “Oh, my dad’s not here because my dad’s at work. Oh, because we don’t have a lot of money, even though my dad works a whole lot, my dad can never work enough to really take care of the family. But that’s not nice to say, because Dad works really hard.”
Like within 30/60 seconds every possible dramatic and awful scenario would just start mentally taking a toll on me.
Dave: Yes; the way you just said that, it felt like we were in your head.
Dave: It felt like that noise. Is that the noise you’re talking about?
Jamie: All day; it’s all day. I’m almost 30 now—I’m very grown and wise—[Laughter]—and so I’ve learned some really helpful tools to help silence that noise, but it’s a conscious choice to fight that noise. It’s a conscious choice to allow that quiet to happen.
I think, even though I have generalized anxiety disorder—I think/oh, I know for a fact that—even though people/even people without it have anxiety, and have worry, and have fear. We have to consciously choose to trust in the Lord that the anxiety that’s happening in our mind is, oftentimes, a liar and trust the quiet, that we are having a hard time procuring, is the very thing that we need.
It’s a lot of active/active reacting, on a daily basis for me, to combat the anxiety that happens naturally. Then, in addition to that, at 11, I was diagnosed with:
- A tic disorder called Tourette’s syndrome, which is a movement disorder causing uncontrollable movements and sounds called tics.
- Then also, obsessive-compulsive disorder—OCD—which is similar to anxiety but basically causes more actions than thoughts; so like repetitive counting of something, or tapping or moving, repetitive pursuing of textures—like if I see a texture—like I need to feel like: “Oh I need to go figure out what that is”; or like a texture that I just cannot touch, I’m like, “If that blanket comes near me, I will probably cry.” [Laughter]
- Then also ADHD, which is attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, which really just affected all the other. [Laughter] It’s a lot; you know?
Ann: That is a lot.
Jamie: It’s a lot. I was 11; and sometimes, I look back and I’m like, “Kid, were you okay?” [Laughter]
Ann: Yes; well, I’m thinking of our listeners that have kids that maybe have had some of those diagnoses; or maybe they’re dealing with anxiety and depression. And yet, to look at you on the outside, I would never know any of that. [Laughter] Plus, you’re super successful; you’re doing a ton, and you’re young.
So as 11, here you are—you’ve had this; I mean, crazy diagnoses with a lot of different things—then what?
Jamie: The first thing was relief. My symptoms really were at their heaviest when I was nine—well, between nine and fifteen—but the onset of them was like nine years old when the tics were really bad. I was constantly squeezing my hands, my feet. I have—some of my tics were oftentimes injuring myself—so like I would be in the car and hitting my head on the window. The way that my legs and arms would flail would, oftentimes, I would hit myself—or I’d hit myself in the stomach—and again, these things are all uncontrollable.
It’s just the way—if you’re nerdy like me, and you’re like, “Oh, how does it happen?”—the neurons in my brain, that are supposed to signal to do things; there’s a little mix up in the wiring. We live in an imperfect world; these things happen, unfortunately. The main thing was my tics. Getting that diagnosis was such a relief; because it felt like, “Oh, there’s a word; there’s an understanding.”
Ann: “There’s a reason.”
Jamie: Yes, exactly.
I, like a lot of other kids—I mean, statistically, this is just much more—but I dealt with things like asthma, as a kid, which is pretty common. I had like an inhaler just in case I needed it. It wasn’t too bad by the time I was in middle school. So getting my diagnosis of everything else was kind of exciting; because in my head, I was like, “Oh, I’m going to get, I guess, like an inhaler for Tourette,”—like I don’t know; I had never heard these words before—but I assumed they would give me some medication.
But my relief it dissipated so quickly; because I just remember my neurologist sitting there, and saying to my mom, “Hey, just so you know; there’s no cure for any of this stuff. There’s not even medication for it. There are medications that we can try; but nothing/nothing is, for sure, going to work.”
Ann: And then, even the medications you were on, that was rough.
Jamie: They were horrible. I feel so much for parents that are still going through this today with their children; because—now, don’t get me wrong; there’s been so much research and study; we’ve grown so much in the medical community; I’m so grateful for all the people that have put in the work—but I mean, if you are a parent of a child dealing with illness, that’s a fulltime job.
I’m so grateful for my parents, because they fought for me relentlessly—just like I would try one medication: and it would have me dealing with things like hallucinations; or sleeping day after day after day; or not sleeping at all; or just complete loss of my personality; I was on a heart monitor at one time because one of the medications was affecting my heart, and the payoff just wasn’t worth it—you know, the benefits of the medication rather; it just wasn’t worth it—it was miserable.
It’s tough; because like you said—a lot of times when people meet me or if they see me—like nine times out of ten my hair is purple or pink. Like there’s always something—
Dave: It’s a little bold right now.
Jamie: Yes. [Laughter]
Ann: It’s so cool.
Jamie: Thank you. It’s always elaborate; it’s always something going on. I think, sometimes, I’m overcompensating for that childhood situation that I went through; because it was horrendous—this five-to-seven-year gap in my life—where I was just/I was miserable; it was awful; I was very depressed.
Ann: Tell us about your mom, who was fighting for you, and even your dad.
Dave: Yes; I’d love to know: “Did they ever lose it? Were they always patient?” I’m just thinking, if I’m in the car and my son is banging his head on the window, there might have been times, where I’m like, “Can you just stop that?” But obviously, it’s a medical condition.
Ann: Or as mom, I’m crying; I’m thinking, “Lord, what are we going to do?”
Jamie: I don’t know how they did it; I don’t. I don’t know how they do it now. I mean, I still have stuff—just think about the very stereotypical dynamic of the youngest child who’s married with [a] first child [of her own]—you know what I mean? Like the dynamic of me being like [whiney]—“Mom!”—I’m annoying; I’m a Millennial; we’re all a hot mess.
Dave: Where did that voice come from? That was pretty interesting.
Ann: She’s got some really good voices.
Jamie: That’s my natural tone.
Dave: Okay. [Laughter]
Ann: We forgot to mention you’re married. You’ve been married for how many years?
Jamie: Three-and-a-half years
Ann: And you have a two-year-old.
Jamie: I have a two-year-old, yes.
Dave: —who your parents are watching right now; right?
Jamie: Yes; praise the Lord. [Laughter]
But yes, it’s like I don’t know how—like my parents are even still so gracious and so patient with me—that’s just the Lord, honestly. But my mom—I struggle to call her a stay-at-home mom—because I think she was like a work-on-demand homeschool mom. Because we didn’t really grow up with a lot of money, so my mom was like, “I’m going to start a cookie business real quick”—kind of like that; you know?—but she also homeschooled us.
She is the literal person that took the literal paperwork to my neurologist and said, “It’s called Tourette’s syndrome, and my child has it. I dare you to challenge me.” They looked at it; and they’re like [deep voice], “Oh, you’re right.” She never stopped fighting for me, and she still does.
Ann: You’re a mom with a two-year-old. We have/it’s that mama-bear thing in us.
Dave: Well, I mean, it sounds like—again, I don’t know your mom—it sounds like she was extremely firm and went after what she needed to get; but also, tender and gentle with you. Is that true?
Jamie: Oh yes, for sure. I can’t remember one time that she did not extend me the grace that I needed, really. She’s also a very comical and real-like person, very much a realist as well. Don’t get me wrong.
I remember, once I was like 12; and there was something that I was really obsessing over, like OCD-wise—I was like: “It has to be this way; it has to be that way,”—and she—like for context, I was super nerdy; so I was 12; I was already in 9th grade—I was planning for college and stuff. My mom sat me down; and she was like, “Hey, let’s talk about this real quick.” She’s like, “In this house, you can be who you need to be; you can do what you need to do. But I want you to understand something: the world is not going to give you the grace that I’m going to give you.”
She was like, “I’m never going to tell you not to have OCD, because that’s not how it works. But you have to be mindful that, if college is something you want/if moving out of the state by yourself is something you want, I just need you to be mindful: ‘The world is not set up for little black girls with mental health issues.’ So whatever that means—you need me to go with you; you need to stay with me; you need to stay with me and dad—like whatever it is.”
I always appreciated how real she was with me. She definitely wasn’t one of those moms who was like, “Just be yourself baby; the world will deal with it”; because that’s not practical. I like that she was like, “You be who you need to be, and you do what you’ve got to do; and understanding that the world will never give you the kind of anything that you might feel that you deserve or need.”
Dave: Did that give you the confidence you needed to become who you are?
Jamie: I think so; it helped me feel so comfortable with being different. I think, so often, even now as a society, we always want to talk about: “Oh, we’ve got to come together and talk about all the things that make us the same.” And yes, that’s a beautiful important thing; but I also like to embrace what makes me different. I wasn’t born to fit in with everybody else; I wasn’t made to be like everybody else.
So when I went to college, it taught me how to be an advocate for myself as opposed to: “I have mental health stuff; I have severe anxiety. They better adapt to me.” It taught me like: “No, I need to learn how to become an advocate for myself,” “Whatever full-time job I have, I’m also going to have to become a full-time, volunteer advocate for me and my mental health.”
Yes, it gave me a lot of confidence; but also, it reminded me that I also still call my mommy if I need her; because yes, sometimes, I do. [Laughter] Like a couple of weeks ago, I called her; I was like [nasal voice], “Oh, mom, I have a doctor’s appointment; and I’m not sure what to say about a medicine I need for some arm pain.” [Laughter] She told me what to say; I was like, “Yes!”
Ann: That’s awesome. [Laughter]
Well, I’m sitting here; and I’m thinking about Philippians 4:19—and you even quote this verse in your book, where it says, “My God will meet all your needs”—all of your needs—“according to the riches of His glory in Christ Jesus.” I listen to you; and I think you’re this little girl, who was born—like God wasn’t surprised at your diagnosis, and He wasn’t surprised—I’m thinking of Psalm 139, where it says He knit us together in our mother’s womb. He’s looking at you and He’s celebrating: “Look at My daughter. She has so many gifts; she has so many talents. And yes, she’s got some things—I know about those; I’m not surprised by those—and yet, I’m going to use her.”
I think that’s such a good reminder for all of us; because sometimes, we can look at our brokenness—we can look at our diagnosis; we can look at our kids—and we can think, “Lord, do You see what’s happening?” He goes: “Yes, I see your girl; I see you.” I think it’s a really good reminder that God is saying: “I’m with you.
Ann: “I’m with you in it.”
You’ve been a great example. I love hearing the story of you and your mom—that she’s fighting for you and she’s speaking truth to you in love and grace—and that’s what our Father God does for us as well.
Dave: And in some ways, that’s what we get to do as parents. We get to be the voice of God to our kids. Whether they fit in with everybody or they don’t, they’re looking at us to be the voice that says, “This is what Jesus sees and thinks of you.”
Jamie: Right; exactly. No, I love that so much and, especially, what you’re saying about the Lord just not being surprised; you know? [Laughter]
Jamie: It takes me to this incredibly vivid memory. I have like a collection of like 34 very vivid memories from childhood—it’s so random—but I have this one: we were waiting for my mom to come out of like an antique mall or something. My dad and I were sitting in the minivan. I asked him, “Can you just tell me, if God is so smart, like why doesn’t He just tell me everything that’s going to happen?”
Ann: Or even the question that a lot of us ask is: “Lord, You could heal me. Why don’t You just heal me?”
Jamie: Yes; exactly. I really thought I had it all figured out. I was like, “Dad, all God has to do is just fix it,”—it’s like—“Tell us everything.”
I remember my dad/he looked in the rear-view mirror. My dad is so—he’s so beautifully poetic and dramatic—he could have turned around, but I feel like he was doing this for dramatic effect. He, like looked in the rear-view mirror, and he was like—this is not his voice, but it has to be for the story—he was like [deep voice], “Well, if He told us, we would not have a reason to trust Him then, would we?” I was just like, “That makes so much sense!”
My mind was blown, and then I told him I was. He’s like, “Man, I’m going to preach that one day.” I just remember telling him “No, Dad; I’m going to preach it.” I like to remind him: “I’m preaching it, Dad; I am,”—because I try to make that my life’s work of just like—“I’m trusting the Maker here. I could be healed of Tourette’s syndrome tomorrow. Yes, I could beg God to just tell me the plan for the next five, ten, fifteen, twenty years—I could go there if I want—or I’m just choosing to trust Him. He’s not surprised by any of this.”
So I’m just choosing to say: “Okay, Lord, You’ve put me here for a reason. You’re allowing me to walk through this stuff for whatever reason that might be,”—I always try to remind myself, “Job went through worse,”—so at least, I ain’t Job—“You’re allowing me to go through all this stuff. I’m here; I’m present with You, Jesus. I’m just choosing to trust that You have a purpose for all of this that is so much greater than what I could plan for myself.”
Shelby: When it comes to the topic of mental health, many of us think: “I wish I could just get better,” or “I wish my friend could just get better,” “I wish my spouse could just get better.” As Dave and Ann Wilson have been talking with Jamie Grace today, she’s helped us to see that mental health is a journey. Sometimes, when you struggle with things like anxiety, worry, fear—and even deeper things like Jamie has—like Tourette’s syndrome, and hallucinations, and ADHD, you can want to get to the other side and just be better. But discovering that Jesus is with you in that process of the journey, not necessarily just the destination, is such an encouraging word.
Jamie Grace has written a book called Finding Quiet: My Journey to Peace in an Anxious World. This is so relevant for our culture and our time right now. We want to make this great resource available to you over at FamilyLifeToday.com; request your copy and order one there.
Searching for peace is something that we kind of renew ourselves with right now in this Lenten season. The Lenten season is a time that leads up to our celebration of Christ’s rising from the dead on Easter, and it provides us with an opportunity to focus in ways that we don’t ordinarily do during the year. That’s why we thought it was so great that David Mathis is going to be on with Dave and Ann Wilson at the end of the week.
He’s written a book called Rich Wounds: The Countless Treasures of the Life, Death, and Triumph of Jesus. It’s a 30-day devotional that contains reflections to help us pause and meditate on the sacrificial love of Jesus and look into the sacrifice that He made on the cross and then conquer death in the resurrection. If you make a donation, all this week, in any amount, we would love to send you a copy of David Mathis’s book, Rich Wounds: The Countless Treasures of the Life, Death, and Triumph of Jesus. It’s our gift to you to say, “Thank you for helping to make this ministry possible at FamilyLife Today.” Again, you can head over to FamilyLifeToday.com; or you can request your copy by calling 1-800-358-6329; that’s 1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY.” Thanks, in advance, for your support; and we hope you enjoy the book. We think you will.
Now, if what Jamie Grace has been talking with Dave and Ann Wilson about today has been a blessing to you, or any of the programs at FamilyLife have been helpful for you, we’d love for you to share today’s podcast with a friend or family member. And while you’re there, it could really advance what we’re doing at the ministry of FamilyLife Today if you’d scroll down and rate and review us while you’re there.
Tomorrow, Dave and Ann Wilson are going to be speaking with Jamie Grace once again. She’s going to be talking with them about how to handle these issues, which we have a tendency to want to do alone; but it’s never a good idea to remain solo as we’re wrestling with mental health. That’s coming up tomorrow.
On behalf of Dave and Ann Wilson, I’m Shelby Abbott. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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