Driving Free

Author: Kate Franken

I couldn’t breathe. Every muscle tensed. My face turned hot and clammy. I could see myself driving off the bridge. I wanted to slam the brakes and runaway. And then, in my head, I saw all the cars hitting me from behind.

I wrestled against what I felt, despite its intensity, and steered myself off to the side of the highway, once I gradually made it over the bridge. And there I sat paralyzed with fear, trying to breathe. I eventually pushed myself back out onto the highway, knowing people were expecting me. I drove with trepidation, fearful of another panic attack.

Kate Franken Driving freeThis moment is so vivid for me, the feelings of having no control pulsed strong. It, among other panic attacks, sit locked in my memory, ready to haunt me whenever I drive bridges, busy highways, and always the freeway.

When this anxiety first surfaced a little over two years ago, I immediately tried to make sense of it. I however couldn’t make sense of it on my own. I didn’t understand people that had panic attacks. I didn’t understand how I could go from a fearless to a fearful driver almost overnight for no obvious reason.

Fortunately, over time, I made my hidden pain known, despite the overwhelming sense of shame the anxiety invoked. A friend with a biblical counseling repertoire and a brother pursuing a medical doctorate degree, have helped me piece together the root of this affliction. The year prior to the start of the panic attacks, I experienced a number of (small) incidents on the road in which control felt stripped from me. One was a near accident, in which the van in front of me hit ice and swung wildly over both lanes of the highway on a narrow overpass. I had to press forward and pray the van stayed in the other lane as I passed.

Twice, I was in a car that was rear-ended. Another accident occurred when a motorcyclist hit my rear tire as I pulled out from a store parking lot one night. I had looked both ways and had seen nothing. From my perception, the motorcyclist had come out from nowhere. It was questioned post-scene-of-the-accident, whether the motorcyclist had a headlight because none could be found in the pictures of the wrecked motorcycle. These occurrences combined have potentially given me a bit of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

The Enemy ruthlessly attacked me in my weakness. I sought to get rid of the Devil’s foothold. I attempted the remedies for driving anxiety a Google search had rendered and the suggestions put forth by friends to no avail.

After a solid year of pushing myself to combat my fear, I gave up. I was tired of the panic attacks. They showed no sign of leaving. Back roads became my main means of going anywhere distant. I resigned to the belief that this affliction was my thorn. Like Paul, I had to accept that it wasn’t going to go away.

This mindset crippled me all the more. I’m certain the Enemy was wearing his evil grin as he saw me sink deeper into despair. But this is not where this story ends, for the Author of Freedom would not just let me be. He’s been faithful as I’ve endured this trial, using it for good. Great is my gratitude for all that He has shed light on as I’ve reached for freedom.

Driving free Kate FrankenI learned that fear and anxiety come about when we don’t trust that God is good. We are not living in obedience to God when fear and anxiety have a hold on us. For a professed believer, this can create feelings of shame, and thus the natural inclination is to believe a lie, to believe I can have both fear and anxiety and believe that God is good. But fear and anxiety will never loose its grip until you’re honest about your lack of trust in God. It’s when we are honest, that the Holy Spirit can then address the root issue.

My natural inclination to be self-sufficient and strong hinders me. When we are weak, He is strong. We need to lay down our fear and anxiety, and give it to the Lord. We can walk in the light when we stop pretending we’re not scared.

I  was impacted dramatically with the wisdom Apostle Paul imparts in Romans 12:12 “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.”

When I resigned to my anxiety being my thorn forevermore, I had quit hoping. But it’s only with a hope in God that we can prevail against the Enemy’s schemes. It is only when we hope in Him that the best stories of freedom are written.

For too long, I wanted to ignore my affliction, thus I wasn’t praying about it. We need to be relentless in our communing with Our Lord, to have greater truth spoken over our lives. Each time we get on our knees and seek Him, our world is reoriented as it should be, with Him at the center.

The freedom I now experience allows me to travel over bridges and busy highways fairly painlessly. I’m steadily regaining my ability to drive on the freeway, after a year’s absence. Knowing where I’ve been and where I am now, only God could have freed me from these chains. He is the one to seek if we long to be free.

 


kate-squareKate Franken is a 4th grade teacher and a volunteer coordinator at her church in Oregon. She enjoys indulging in raw conversation whilst savoring a cup or more of coffee. Her hunt for good books and podcasts is endless. She finds refuge surrounded by trees, on hiking trails, with her two dogs in tow. She is especially fond of mountaintop views, wit, “best teacher ever” love letters, breakfast, a painted sky, and Jesus. She has a heart for connecting people to His church and encouraging others into relationship with Him.

June Printable: Worry Not

Dear Readers,

As those who belong to Jesus, worry will not steal from us anymore! Sarah Dohman has created this beautiful printable to remind you that you are cared for by the God who knitted the universe together.  May these words from Corrie Ten Boom, who was a courageous survivor of a Nazi concentration camp, on your wall, desk, or wherever you like to put your printables remind you that you can trust God to be who He says He is!

Download this beautiful printable here!

CTB Worry Quote

 

Seeking Beauty

I stared at the glowing screen, eyes glazed over, darting from one item to the next. I compared products and added to the ever growing “wishlist.” Babies don’t need much, but we are foster parents and instead of 9 months of preparation, we have weeks to prepare. Car seats. Consumer reports. Carriers. Will it arrive in time? Thank God for free two day shipping.

Completely overwhelmed I ended the night gazing at the problem through tears. Wishing the pain that causes a child to need a backup plan on no one. My empathy ignited for separated families and those stuck in cycles they cannot escape. The fear of the unknown future for this tiny one, for my heart.

beauty-seekingI seek the physical necessities, but also mourn that life has not been stable and “put together”. I plan out what furniture we need to collect and find Pinterest projects to beautify spaces. I long for this child to be celebrated, welcomed, and loved if even for a short time.

But the beautiful printables didn’t calm my heart. The wish-list increased my anxiety. Grasping for control only proved how out of control I actually am.

Through tears I expressed my crazy to my husband. He pointed me back again to the only source of peace: dwelling deeply in Christ. My gaze shifted. My heart calmed.

Dwelling, Gazing, Seeking. This is what I must be about.

One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple. Psalm 27:4 NIV

Dwelling:

I sometimes forget that I don’t need to fix all the problems, mitigate all the relationships, and control the situation. I can dwell with my God in worship. Not just someday in heaven, but moment by moment; being near to the one who made me. Abiding with the one who loves me most.

Gazing:

I can gaze upon his beauty as I marvel at his character. Mercy. Forgiveness. Overwhelming love. Love that not only believes in redemption and second chances for all, but also cares for the most vulnerable with justice and compassion. Rather than focusing on what is in front of me, I must turn my eyes to the eternal.

Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. Colossians 3:2-3

dwelling-gazing-seeking-this-is-what-i-must-be-aboutAs a turn my eyes from today to the one who is truly life, I can stop striving, because God’s wisdom, his Spirit, and his love are available to me. He who named the stars of the sky, who created galaxies, and has been working out redemption throughout all of human history also knows me intimately. He is at work in the entire world and yet

You have kept count of my tossings, put my tears in your bottle.  Are they not in your book? Psalms 57:8

My heart is put at rest knowing that God is good. My anxieties ease as I stare into his power and greatness. I can leave him in control, for he loves me as well as those I fret over when midnight nears.

Seeking:

Seeking him out is the most beautiful pursuit. I don’t need to know the end of the story to know that God will be at work. He does not just take people who are doing well at life and shine them up a bit, but he transforms the worst situations possible into something beautiful.
It is not simply the “someday” resolution, wrapped up in a bow, that creates beauty in the midst of the messiness of life. Choosing to dwell with, gaze at, and seek the giver of life allows true beauty to bloom in chaos.


Readers, Whatever your cares the weight of them can be revealed by keeping your eyes on the the God who can carry it for you. May you seek and find rest as you search for His beauty today.

holly-squareHolly is a wife of 6 years as well as mom to a teenager (by adoption) and a child she’ll meet in heaven. She’s been foster mom to 10 kids in the last 3 years, and works part time as a church bookkeeper. She loves interacting with people who are hungry for change and ready to see God at work in their lives. She studied Intercultural Studies at Corban University and loves to build bridges between cultures and people. She writes to tell the stories of what God has done, especially through her experiences of infertility, foster care, and adoption. These days you’ll find her catching up on housework while listening to a podcast, trying not to have dinner be a Pinterest fail,  and sipping coffee while teaching her daughter to drive.

Becoming Aware of Terror

I heard the sniffling before I saw her. She descended the last step of the stairs and revealed her flushed, tear-streaked face. “What is wrong?” I implored. She replied, to my surprise, “I am so scared of the people who bombed the towers.” My heart ached, and my compassion for her late night fear was ignited. She was being haunted not by the typical childhood fear of the dark, but instead – a legitimate fear of darkness itself. This was the first year she had been mature enough to understand the depths of the tragedy of 9/11, and it was keeping her up at night. We had talked to her about it before, but this year she was more aware. They taught her History in her fourth grade class, and terror settled into her soul.

I held her close and did my best to speak louder than the voices of horror. I reminded her that there is good, that some hearts are made of flesh instead of stone, and that evil will eventually be overcome. I said in short, “Yes this is true, but we can stand against it. We need not be afraid. Fear is just another one of evil’s temptations to keep us from true life. We must be courageous. Don’t forget: God is in control, and you are His.”

There comes a time in the lives of children where parents can no longer shield them from the reality that there is trouble in this world, and it is our job to equip them to know how to stand against it. I have four children ranging from 10-4, and this tenderhearted one, is eight. The shock of processing the events of a broken world was too much this night, and I knew it wouldn’t be the last.

I snuggled her slender frame and sloppy face to my side, lifted her chin, and gently asked her, “What does your name mean?” Having been told many times she replied, “I have the light.”

There is a reason we chose her name to have that meaning. We knew that in life she would need to be reminded. The world is scary sometimes, and things are often out of our control, but we get to decide if we will shine light or bring darkness. We wanted our daughter to know, she would have the light.

Sometimes I question my decisions to be so open with my children about the facts of life; that it’s not always easy, in life there will be suffering, and that evil is a real and present danger. But I won’t lie to my children so they can find false comfort. While I do try to protect the beauty of childhood innocence, I also want them to know truth, have hope, and find the secret to being content in all circumstances. I cannot hide my children from the world, but I can teach them to live in it courageously.

I acknowledged that this fear for her (and many others) is real, but that does not mean we cower. I tried to help her understand the luxuries of freedom and protection she has just because she lives in America. We also continuously try to teach our children to have a global perspective. While I hold my weeping child who is making up improbable dramas in her head, there are other children falling asleep to the sounds of waging warfare. I tell her of the things I have seen, and of the times Mommy and Daddy have traveled the world to offer help and the hope of Christ. Someday, I hope to take her with me so she can see how vast humanity truly is, and join me in the ultimate good we were both made for.

How can we share our light? How can we bring awareness to the next generation? Will we teach them to hide or teach them to rise? May we be bold, willing to face our own fears, and may we point at Jesus even when our eyes are washed with waves of tears. For the leaders of tomorrow are watching, asking if they can do the same.


Readers, Whether you have children or not, you can impact the next generation. How can you influence others to be in the light?

e9d88-chara2bbio2bpic2bsquare2b600pxChara is a freelance writer, certified biblical counselor, and speaker. She holds a MSEd from Corban University and is passionate about seeing people set free through God’s truths. She loves to write about faith, culture,  and the deep truths that drive our fascinations with it. Chara is the founder and editor of  Anchored Voices and can be found on multiple social media platforms @CharaDonahue.

Hope for the Anxious Heart

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. 

 

 

Readers,

What truths help to calm you when your heart is tempted to feel anxious?

As always, thank you for reading!