Beautiful Exchange

Hey there, I’m back! I know you missed me dearly and have been sitting on the edge of your seat for days waiting to see a new blog pop up! Well, today is your lucky day! Life has been interesting the last couple of months and on top of that I had writers block times a bagillion. There is so much I have inside to convey at times, it is hard to know what I am needing to convey next. I actually started a whole other post and decided that wasn’t needed for today. So hop on the blog bus and enjoy the reading ride!

I am sure all of us can say that we are afraid or have a fear of something. Fear of heights, spiders, small enclosed spaces, darkness, fear of failure and the list can go on and on. For me when I was a little girl I was afraid of the open space under my bed. I thought for sure while I was sleeping if my arm fell off the side of the bed that some evil monster was going to grab my arm and pull me down some dark black  hole that was cut in the floor beneath me! Yes, I had a pretty decent imagination. I was also afraid of being outside at night. Just always leery that something was “out there” and gonna get me.

Fear was a real thing in my life at such a young age.  I did grow out of those fears but there was always something that tended to linger. Something that I believe didn’t manifest again until much later.

It was about 15 years ago I was out with some friends at a local coffee shop. I remember that I had been stressing about life for quite awhile. Being out with my friends that night was, in my mind, solidifying the lies that I had mulled over for weeks: “you’re not going to ever be something,” “you’re failing at life,” “you’re not enough” etc, etc, etc. Hearing them talk about what their future plans were, who they were dating and how successful they knew they would become was the icing on the cake for my already battered up mind. Then IT happened, the craziest freakiest thing that happened.  An overwhelming  feeling came rushing over me like something was inside my body pushing me over and at the same time the room was getting smaller and smaller and things were getting dim and blurry. It lasted for what seemed to be forever but I know it was most likely a 5-10 second experience. I came to and tried to act like nothing happened but I just didn’t feel right after that. I was seemingly able to function but I just felt “off” and nauseous. Well, that was the beginning of many more episodes that would occur over the next few weeks. I didn’t know what was going. I was scared and full of fear.  Not only did I have fear while it was happening but I was fearing the fear THAT it was going to happen again. Thus began the cycle of fearing something was seriously wrong. I finally decided that I probably should go to the doctor. I could barely handle sitting in the doctor’s office. I was a fidgety nervous wreck. I finally got called back. I walked down the sterile hallway to the cold clinic room. I climbed on the exam table and the doctor began to ask me questions about why I was there. We talked for barely  5 minutes, yes ONLY 5 minutes, and she ubruptly concluded and conveyed to me, “well, it looks like you have been having anxiety and panic attacks.” I looked at her with the most confused look on my face. I hadn’t even heard of this before let alone having her tell me, after 5 minutes of discussion, that I was experiencing this! In my little mind I refused to accept this diagnosis. Surely there must be another answer to feeling like this. But alas, she wrote out a script for some meds and sent me on my way. There was no discussion of how to help me, no talk of what I could do when an episode hit, just threw meds at me like I was just another “case” she had to deal with for the day.

Driving home from that appointment I had time to think on this new information that was conveyed to me. I didn’t know the slightest thing about anxiety and especially panic attacks! I did know one thing that if that is what was going on I wanted it to stop immediately!! I wanted my life back. I pulled into the driveway of our home, walked into the house and walked directly to my room. I shut the door and I silently bawled into my pillow on my bed. When those words of anxiety and panic were given to me it was just as if she might as well have said that I am now defective and life will never be the same again. I let myself have a good cry then, being the determined girl I am I sat up and said to myself, ‘NO! I am not allowing this to define me! Whatever it takes God I want to get to the root of why I am dealing with these horrible attacks!!’ At that moment I decided, for me, I didn’t want the meds to mask the issue. So I stuffed the script for meds under my bed and never looked back. (I want to stop here and say if you also deal with anxiety and panic attacks I am in no way implying that you can’t or shouldn’t take meds. This decision is what I heard from God to do for me. Believe me there were MANY days and long nights that I wish I hadn’t heard that from God, but His grace is sufficient!)

That year was one of the most debilitating and painful years of my life up until that point. I rarely slept and when I did I would wake up in a hot sweat, my neck paralyzed and me trying to grasp for air. I couldn’t go into any stores alone and barely with another person. I remember the first time I realized I couldn’t go to the mall is when I walked into the store and the room started spinning. I had to hold on to a clothes rack to keep my sanity and balance all while making it look like I was looking at clothes. In reality I was freaking out inside and  devising a way to escape this place of torment. I finally made it out of the mall and didn’t return there or any store for over a year. In that year’s time I also found myself for about a week not able to leave my home. Yes, that is right literally stuck inside my home like a prison. I had zero energy! I could barely stand long enough to even take a shower. I made myself try and do crafts to try and get my mind back working. I felt like I was shutting down. I felt like I was just a shell of a person.

I very slowly came out of those black days and dark nights. I lost a lot of hope though  in that year,  but deep down I had this quiet  reservoir of awareness that the same God that created this universe still sees me, knows me and will never leave me. To look back now and write this out for you to read, it seems so far in the past and yet it feels as if it was just yesterday. With salty warm tears cascading my face I will say that what I am remembering even more than the dark nights and pain filled days is God’s faithfulness. His great faithfulness to come and tend to my broken heart and life that was in a million pieces on the floor of my soul. He was so gentle and kind in His pursuit of my heart. Yes, He never stops pursuing our hearts, ever. It was His constant, steady and unrelenting love that I know gave me the strength to persevere and not give up on life. In our weakness He truly becomes our fortifying strength.

Know today that you are loved. No matter where you’re at in your journey, there is a Papa (God) who is madly in love with you. You’re not alone. You’re not defective. You’re not too far away to turn around and see Papa’s loving arms waiting to embrace you. He is our ever present help in time of need. He loves you right where you’re at.

The great thing about coming to God in our weakened state is He actually WANTS your mess! Through grace you get to come to Him dirty and weak and you receive a miraculous exchange of strength and beauty. Mind boggling really to think we don’t have to do one thing to earn this exchange, we just have to come as we are.

Embrace every part of your journey. In the dark nights look for Him, look for this one that will guide and lead you where you need to go. He will navigate the path for you when you can’t see. Trust His hand and lean into His tender arms. He will never leave you or forsake you!

Slow down today to see Him. He is everywhere. See Him in your past. Look for Him in your future. Be aware of Him in your present.

Til later! xoxo

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