Thursday, March 11, 2010

Anxiety and Fear....Double Trouble

Matthew 10:30
"And even the hairs on your head are numbered. So don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows."

Well, I promised you another story the next time you stopped by the Back Porch. A story about a woman who was bound by fear and anxiety. A true story of freedom! So sit down,grab a cup of tea, preferable sweet tea, and be blessed.

It happened so fast one minute I was driving, plans for the day swirling around my head and the next moment I was lying in an ambulance on my way to the hospital. What had just happened? My body and mind were grabbed with fear. I still could not piece it all together. I was driving when a faint feeling came over me. My breathing became labored and I was sure I was having a heart attack. With my heart pounding out of my chest I flagged down a driver on the interstate and asked for help. The journey began.

While at the hospital a myriad of tests were done. The diagnosis - ANXIETY. WHAT? No heart attack? No stroke? No strange unnamed disease? Just anxiety? Doubting the diagnosis, I began to search doctor after doctor to find out what this dreaded disease that had consumed me was. But each one had the same diagnosis - ANXIETY. The cure - take this pill it will calm your fears and help you relax. I just could not accept these "life threatening" symptoms were just anxiety. In the meantime my world got smaller and smaller. Every place I would have an attack I decided I shouldn't return for fear of another attack. Eventually my world became the rooms of my house and my husband was the safe person in my life. Fear was definitely controlling my every move. I continued to search the medical community for answers but all the same - anxiety. Hopeless and helpless to stop this unseen bandit I decided living was too risky, too scary and death would be a much better alternative. I was afraid to live and afraid to die.

As a young woman I had hopes and dreams far different than the life I knew growing up. I tried very hard at 24 years old to make my life as perfect as possible. No conflict, no fear, no imperfections. A peaceful home, a clean,neat and tidy home, a home free of strife. I was failing miserably on all fronts especially now since "anxiety" entered the picture. Where did it come from? After talking to many a counselor I learned it wasn't about my life today but about my life earlier. All the emotions never dealt with as a child and stuffed deep within me as an adult, triggering anxiety attacks now. Stuffing, I learned, creates no room to deal with real life. Stuffing deals only in the make-believe world, the perfect world. It is like a bucket that you keep stuffing and stuffing - soon it begins to boil over from being too full. My bucket was full and boiling over.

The many nights hearing my father abusing my mother, running downstairs to find a knife to my mother's neck, and fleeing to my grandmother's house where I cried myself to sleep wishing life could be different. We would return but walked around carefully never wanting to make my father angry or disturbing the fragile peace within our home. I learned stuffing my emotions helped me to survive, but that did not serve me well as an adult. It was time to deal with the real life I lived as a child. The anxiety attacks were forcing me to do just that. If I ever wanted to be free I had to get out of my make-believe world and look at the "stuff" I had stuffed all those years.

I didn't know where to turn or what to do next. I only knew I wanted this awful anxiety to just go away -to wake up and feel "normal" again. Anxiety led to agoraphobia and while being housebound I watched plenty of TV. It was back in the beginning days of Christian television. You had something called an UHF antenna(this was before cable, for all you youngins'). It hooked to the back of the TV and if you wrapped it in aluminum foil and held it just the right way, the program would come in. The picture was always snowy but at least it had sound. The early days of the 700 Club peaked my curiosity. They always talked about Jesus,the testimonies of people who had given their lives to Him and how lives had changed. I listened as Ben Kinchlow said this man, Jesus, knew the number of hairs that were on my head and how He loved me and wanted to change my life into something good. He talked of a healing Jesus, an approachable God who cared about every detail of my life. The days went by and I heard more and more. I realized that this same Jesus could heal me of anxiety attacks. He could make my life worth living again, worth the effort to get up and face the day.

The strange thing is I went to church, I sang the hymns, taught Sunday School class and never heard about this Jesus. I heard about being good and doing right. Never once heard about reading the Bible or knowing Jesus as personal Savior and Lord. I didn't rob a bank, cheat, lie or talk bad so I was good to go as a "Christian". Right? Wrong! There was more, A LOT MORE! I couldn't do enough things right. So that my right column outweighed the wrong. Jesus had given His life for my sins. A free gift, the only way to pay for my sins was through the blood of Jesus on the cross. When you are at the end of yourself and there is no more you are able to do, you know there has to be more.

I knelt in front of my TV and gave my life to Jesus Christ that day. I wish I could say that I was instantly healed and never had another attack and never had a bad day since. That would not be the truth. I don't understand everything that has come my way but I can tell you it was worth and I have never desired the old life. That day was my first day of freedom! I would walk two years before I would be completely free from anxiety attacks. It would be harder to trust the Lord to get out of my house and drive. But indeed I did and my life has never been the same. The day I drove myself to Bible Study Fellowship was the sweetest day of my life!

I am thankful for the things the Lord allowed in my life because I can tell you I am authentic, the real deal, valid, because of what He did in, around and through me.

What about you? Where are you today? Are you battling anxiety and fear? These days it's easy to have some of both, isn't it? Maybe you are like me, growing up in an abusive home, wondering what your worth really is. Perhaps you didn't know the Lord has a plan for your life or that He really loves you? I mean, how could He, the way you grew up? Please know that one day you will have to trust someone. Would you consider today trusting the One who created you and has your good in mind? Would you simply ask the Lord Jesus to forgive you of your sins and come into your life. Accept the free gift of forgiveness and a new life with Jesus. Oh, you may wake up tomorrow with all the same problems, but now you will have someone to walk along beside you and help you, a future and a hope. You will now have the promise of heaven when you pass from this earth. It wasn't easy to give up control and trust, but once I did it was more than worth it and I have never regretted a day.

Now I have something else on my mind: Perhaps you are a Christian who gave your life to Jesus at a young age. No dramatic testimony of abuse or sadness. Your family life was "normal" and nothing outstanding in your past. You hesitate to share your testimony because of that. Well, your testimony is what the Lord kept you from. I have a friend who grew up without a dad. She sometimes laments about not having a father growing up. But what she is missing is what the Lord spared her from. Now don't get me wrong, of course, we all want great parents and good families to grow up and have memories with. But this is the real world, and sometimes that just doesn't happen. The Lord can show His great love for us by what He spares us from or rescues us out of. We won't know fully until we are with Him. Until then we are to trust Him and testify to what He is doing in our lives. Forget the "cute" and go for real. It will serve your good and His glory. Love you, dear ones. Until we hear the shout!