Thursday, July 20, 2017

five years ago

Five years ago, I went on a triple date with some of my closest friends. I ended up having my first ever panic attack which set the stage for a journey with anxiety.

Five years ago, I woke up thinking one way about mental illness and went to bed thinking another.

This particular story in my life is one of my favorites to tell because it tells of both the powerful nature of God and the practical nature of God. I think that sometimes we feel like we have to side with one, and that's just not the case. God is a supernatural healer yet he also allows us to work and fight through our struggles.

I will never forget the night that I felt the supernatural healing of God. I was experiencing and had been experiencing the symptoms of anxiety for five days at that point. I was shaky, my heart was racing, and my chest was burning. All the classic anxiety markers. And in that moment in bed when I had a revelation of what the Lord was doing in my life, it was as if a fresh wind blew over me. Every symptom immediately left.

But I wasn't miraculously healed for good. There was still work to be done. I saw a counselor, I recited scripture over and over in my head to fall asleep at night, my community prayed for me, my friends rallied around me, my family supported me, my church offered a safe place for me, and my husband walked every single step of it with me. I trusted and believed in the Lord's healing power, but I also had to trust the Lord's healing process. 

I know mental illness has gone from being a thing we don't talk about to almost being a "fad." To someone unfamiliar with it, it may seem like it's all being blown out of proportion. But I assure you that there's nothing wonderful about feeling like your mind isn't right, and it truly is just as awful as we all make it out to be.

But the hope is this - there is a Healer who wants to walk in it with us. His plan could include healing, hard work, counseling, medicine, prayer, practical coping strategies, or memorizing scripture. There is a place for all of it and no one journey looks the same.

As I was driving today, I got teary thanking God for where he has brought me. Back in 2012, I couldn't have imagined there being a time when I would feel normal in my mind or body. It's so good to look back and remember. Reminding our souls of the faithfulness of God is powerful. Sometimes it is that simple act of reminding that pushes us forward in dark stretches where there seems to be no hope or light.

I don't look back on all of it with fondness, but I do look back on it with thankfulness. It was hard and painful work, but it changed me. July 20th will always remind me of the Lord's goodness, the importance of compassion for others' stories even when we don't understand, and the circle of amazing people that pulled me through a dark season.

We all have a story to tell. Yours may feel small. Mine feels small. But the conversations I've gotten to have with people over the years because of it have been big. I will keep telling this story until I have no fingers to type it and no breath to say it, not because it boasts of me but because it boasts of God.

Tell your story. Your story could be the beginning of someone else's.

{I have shared a lot about anxiety on my blog and you can read any of those posts here. To read the story of the panic attack and the days following, click here and scroll down to the bottom to start at the first post.}

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