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.

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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 When it’s Go Time

Author: Chara Donahue

I was with my mom the first time I felt the thrill of a roller coaster, and last summer I stood in line for the same coaster, twenty-something years later with my own daughter. She waited nervously, boarded, and then…AND THEN… she jumped out of her seat and practically cemented herself onto the exit landing! She panicked. The moment she had been waiting for arrived, and she jumped ship completely. That day she chose fear over adventure.

Having to wait leaves ample time for us to let fear move into the front of our minds, so much so, that we can become crippled by anxious forebodings. We must find peace in the waiting, but we cannot allow it to make us comfortable, inactive, and resigned to the point that when it’s go-time and the dream is about to become reality, we run the other direction in fear.

We see this in the bride experiencing cold feet, the newly discovered talent getting stage fright, or that first date/day of college/new career. Two paths lie before us in these moments of anticipation, excitement and fear. Our fragile hearts may have trouble discerning the difference, but our actions will show our resolution.

We must choose a side. Will we run into, or away from, what we’ve been waiting for?

As we make our way through a fallen world, it can become easy to disbelieve our deep hopes, dreams, and stuff we don’t dare to ask or imagine could ever become a reality. We’ve had expectations crushed, plans deconstructed, and have sat in the trenches of fear wondering if moving forward, pursuing purpose, and hoping for the things of God is even worth it.

We need not submit to being tortured by questions such as: how we will handle it if what we’ve been waiting for isn’t as good as we hoped, or  what we will do if this too is taken away? A heavy heart, and  suspicious mind are all we gain when we act like we can control the unpredictable future that God is asking us to leave in His hands.

“Casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.”-1 Peter 5:7

We cannot exchange promises for predictability. We prefer known pain to uncertainty. But we must not allow predictable pain to build illusions of security. It is nothing but a frail attempt to stave off being vulnerable to disappointment.

The Israelites whom God freed from the chains of oppressive slavery had waited and wandered toward the land God destined for them. They reached it, the first time, approximately close to two years after being freed from captivity. They  had their toes on the edge of the promised land, their wait was finally coming to an end, and then…AND THEN… they began to rebel against the hope that faith in a Holy God would see them through. They saw themselves as fools for believing, took their eyes off of the God of their deliverance, and they were focused only on all that could go wrong. They shouted, “Would it not be better for us to go back to Egypt?” And they said to one another, “Let us choose a leader and go back to Egypt.[1]  They were ready to run, and because of their disbelief, they wandered the dessert for 40 years before taking hold of what God had promised. A full generation perished.

It doesn’t take much for people to turn back, scramble, and flee.

We preach a good God, but yet can act like He is out to get us. Because of Jesus we are not stalked by the wrath of God but are cleansed and brought near by His relentless love. In the blessing and the trial He is good. Yet in the blessing we fear, and in the trial we question. God has not given us a spirit of fear or demanded that we have it all figured out. Instead, He has offered us rest, peace, and promises we can trust Him. Why must we insist on striving in every season of life? Yes, there will be times of suffering, loss, and trial but there are also times of life, celebration, and blessing. Whatever the season, we can trust Him to sustain us, to never forsake us, and to be with us where ever we go.

May we immerse ourselves in the truth of Isaiah 41:10 “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

The fear of disappointment can flow deep below the surface, but we cannot allow it to keep us from embracing the good gifts of a loving God. The mix of excitement and nerves washes over us with a new hope as we get closer to seeing what we have been waiting for be birthed into reality. Our heart can choose celebration or panic, adventure or self-inflicted little deaths.  We can step into the joy of the moment, or skulk slowly away in the shadows of fear.

Do not cower when go-time finally arrives; remember— God is who He says He is. Not a warden out to get you, but a Father who is for you. Let’s stop letting fear rob the children of God, and trust him by going into the new beginnings He has waiting.


Readers,  
What helps you find the courage to go after the things of God? 
Thank you for joining us for our February series The Wait, we hope you will join us in March for New Beginnings

Chara 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.