Thursday, April 4, 2013

When We Sit 'n Spin Scared

We sit and spin our strategies for making our life work...or toss and turn at 3:00am while worry wears us down. Sleep stolen and life-on-hold we dizzy ourselves with mental anguish and we don't even realize often that we have the power to "stop this crazy thing!" {Remember George Jetson on the treadmill?}

I try to figure out how to make so-and-so_____________. {it could be children that do what we want, friends that do what we want, a husband that does what we want} My greatest fear is _____________.  {fear of anger, fear of failing, fear of losing something or someone...the list could go on and on} The things we highly value can consume us and we can become in bondage to them. Whatever we fill in the blanks with can become idols in our lives. Idols always bring us into prison.

"Whatever you fear is your god." ~Ann Voskamp

Anxiety has been an unwelcome companion in my life. If you type 'fear' in my search box, you will find more than a few posts. I'm always learning and seeking greater freedom from it...and now this chapter in our STUCK study. It is entitled "Scared". Its the place I am most likely to be tripped up. Ensnared. About a dozen years ago, I was. Spun into a web of fear that derailed my life, paralyzed me in many ways and really landed me 'rock bottom' in the dark place where one has no choice but to surrender their faulty concept of life being something controllable.

It was excruciatingly painful. But also beautifully good.

It was a gift. A hard gift. Its what Ann Voskamp calls "Hard Eucharisteo"  and my friend Laura Boggess writes about it more here.

Perhaps you've heard from teachers that when you teach something you are likely to be tested in it. Its true. I experienced what I've come to believe at the end of the week as God lifting His hand of protection over me and allowing the fear-bully to have access to my soul another time. I haven't had a full-blown panic attack for quite a while, though I do still at times experience symptoms of anxiety (breathlessness and like I need to run).

Last Thursday while in the salon, head bent for foils by my hairstylist of three years, the young woman... I am still uncertain of whether she likes having me and all my hair in her chair... I felt it. The rise of heat and the split-second of blackness in my head, and then the fear-feeling of panic and need to immediately exit for air, or water, or a really wild scream. And the cape was choking me, and the foils felt heavy. I wasn't sure it was a panic attack, it felt like it might be a physical condition-you always wonder what it is. I'd started my day with two cups of coffee. Maybe it was that.

What if I pass out? Should I tell her I feel like passing out? She would feel alarmed! And then I would feel more alarmed because she would be maybe freaking out inside. And on it goes. And I remember reading 'no one ever died from a panic attack'...

So, as I had done in the past, I kept thinking faster than usual. Where is my faith during this time? What is happening? Process. Remember: give thanks in all circumstances. God is here. What is the worst thing that can happen? I could pass out? "Thank you God that you will still have me!" I might need people to care for me, and heaven forbid, carry me? "Thank you God that you will be there too!"
Fear: False Evidence Appearing Real. 
It gave me some comfort to process, but I still felt the urge to get away-that's the best way to describe it.

I had one more panic attack later that day. And then I felt so discouraged. Then came the fear of "going back there" into the pit like before. But I remembered when I was being rescued a decade ago, I asked the Lord, "What if I fall into this hell again?" to which He distinctly so-I-would-remember replied, "Just keep holding my hand." and I knew that He would uphold me. I am always in His hands. This gave me great peace and the ability to walk forward and mostly free until Thursday.

...perfect love drives out fear... 1 John 4:18

Monday I sat down to do the study. I saw the title: SCARED. As I was doing the work, I realized that what had happened to me was something God wanted me to share. I had never admitted before to having a full-blown panic attack. It scared me bad. I've always called it 'anxiety'. That felt safer to say, it made me feel less weak. I prayed. Then I sent half a dozen text messages to friends and to my mom asking them to pray. I knew God wanted to use this story for my freedom- and maybe for others to understand or find freedom and I had to fess up. To reveal the thing that scared me. Expose my weakness.

I also understood my salon-chair fear was prompted by several things converging in my life including hormones, the caffeine from my morning, recent challenges, and the thoughts I was having that day about her not liking me as a client (which are most likely not true). God revealed that to me. I also knew I needed to renew my reserves; to enhance my natural tranquilizers by rest and laughter and exercise. But mostly recharge my trust. To remember (again) it is not me who is running this show. {ha ha, I know. but I still live like that sometimes! ~as if!!!}
Oswald Chambers says, "Anxiety is calculating without God" 
Ann Voskamp said, "Pride is fear's father and kin to all the cowards." 
It has been my pride that makes me want to hide. Exposing my fear is freeing. Not only for me- I learned already that God has encouraged at least one friend who struggles. And I know He knew. He knows what He is doing. And I am His. And she is His. And He wants to see us free from fear's shackles. Have you faced down fears? Are you fighting them even now?
Trusting Love is the antidote to fear. God is love. Trusting God then. That is freedom...
If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.  John 8:36

The LORD is my shepherd...Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me...Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days fo my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever.
Psalm 23:1, 4, 6

1 comment:

Jedidja said...

I understand exactly what you mean. Regularly I suffer from panic attacks. I wrote about it on my blog. I love the way you have written your blog and I am convinced that God is with us in our fear. He knows very well what fear is. He was very frightened, I read in the Bible.

It's good to be open, if you have fear or other emotions. I sometimes say to my friend: I have had a stressful week. Do not be surprised if I got panic. .

Warm greetings: Jedidja from the Netherlands