Author: Chara Donahue
Last year my four year-old came running at me as I laid reading, and she jumped with reckless abandon onto my back. Normally, this would have been benign, but this time her elbow struck the tissue sandwiched between two of my vertebrae. The result of which was nerve damage the doctor said was equivalent to that of being in a car accident. I could not lift my son; I could not lift the laundry; goodness, lifting my coffee hurt.
The thing that might have been the most annoying was that my back would shake at the weight of anything. I was hurt, wounded, and stripped of my strength.
Many have felt that wavering , that shaking, for reasons other than physical injury. Anyone who has ever suffered from crushing anxiety, weighty depression, or the paralysis of panic attacks knows that sometimes the strength just isn’t there. My body was in distress, and I was completely aware of how inadequate I was to carry life. Day to day tasks were dreaded, difficult.
My back is better now, but there is a greater healing and renewed strength present in my life: It has been 14 years since I suffered a panic attack.
They plagued me for two and a half years. I vividly remember the first attack, because I thought I was dying. I was seventeen. I was making cookies and thinking about the realities of my life, and the jeopardy I had willingly been submitting myself to when disquietude took over and began to reign.
Suddenly, the pathways to my brain that allowed for the involuntary action of breathing began to collapse. The breaths were rapid and massive. A haze hindered my vision and my body pulsed with adrenaline. I wanted to run, fight, or just be knocked out. It was then I began to see that my life needed to change, but I blocked out that sight because it wasn’t what I wanted. I loved him so much. I chose to stay anyway. I tried to be the anchor for a man who was spiraling out of control even faster than I was, and as we sought to find sustenance within one another, we were each consumed. It wasn’t until I surrendered to the God who strengthens that the attacks ceased, it wasn’t until I saw how Jesus sought me out and offered freedom, that I began to hope for more than captivity.
Jesus met me there in the bleakness and whispered comfort into my broken spirit, He was close. He knew all my stuff and still reached down and lifted my head with the promise that He could make me new. I left the toxicity behind and took back my life and what I stood for, then I turned around and laid it all at the foot of the cross surrendering it all to the God who can quiet the raucous soul.
In that surrender, I discovered that faith must be fed with not only with grace but also with truth. It has been my experience that those who most often find healing are the ones who follow the truths God has left in His word to guide us. I clung to them even when they were hard to swallow, rested in the comfort that was always near, and began to walk forward betting on that God was not a liar.
“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”-John 16:33
I have noticed I clamor for control when I’ve placed my hope in others, circumstances, or temporal things. Depending on anything other than the person of Christ leaves me weak and desperate to find my footing. I can let the distress of the world melt away, because I know Jesus is who He says He is. Instead of striving for an absence of struggle, I can stand in the midst of a fallen world with open hands, a quiet soul, and hope for tomorrow.
What truths help to calm you when your heart is tempted to feel anxious?
As always, thank you for reading!