I often eat at my computer, shoving food in my mouth as I work. Being self-employed I don’t take lunch breaks like at a traditional job. Sure I take breaks, but it’s usually to start a load of laundry or run an errand. Not to eat. Anyway, I was eating too fast, and a chip from my salad (you know, one of those tortilla strips) got stuck in my throat. It was only for a minute, and I was able to swallow it down. But it rattled me. I even googled it to see if it had caused any damage. And it reminded me of what my new year’s resolution was this year.
To be a woman of peace.
It’s the only thing I desperately want in 2016. I’ve even unofficially dubbed this year as my year of peace. You see for most of my life, getting a chip stuck in my throat would have been a non-event. It wouldn’t have rattled me. It wouldn’t even have slowed me down. But something has happened to me in the last few years.
I’ve become a woman full of fear. Anxious. Worried. Scared.
Everything has the potential to throw me into a panic attack. And in the moment the panic attack feels so real. Once it’s over I’m filled with embarrassment and shame, realizing it was a ridiculous thing to get worked up over.
Like having a chip stuck in my throat.
It’s silly. But when I’m panicked, it doesn’t seem silly. The fear is real. Too real.
Anxiety is nothing new to me. I’ve been a worrier since I was a child. I think a lot of it has to do with my overactive imagination. In my job I spend all day creating worlds in my mind. Hundreds of characters live inside my brain, and they all seem very real to me. My ability to make things up is a wonderful gift. It’s allowed me to have an incredible career. But it can also be my worst enemy. It can conjure up horrible scenarios at a moment’s notice, and they become believable.
Even though I’ve dealt with anxiety since childhood, my fear took on a life of its own three years ago. If you’ve followed my blog any length of time, you know about all my health issues over the past three years. And you know I’ve dealt with an insane amount of fear because of it. I recognize that I’m the one who let fear into my life. I opened the door, I ushered it inside and I nurtured it. To the point where it has a nice, swanky place in my life now.
There have been moments where I’ve kicked it to the curb. Where I’ve shoved it out into the cold and slammed the door on it. But then I always respond to its gentle knock, flinging the door back open and allowing it to come back inside where its warm, where I’ll coddle it, and baby it until it’s running my life again.
The truth is, this post isn’t fun for me. This isn’t what I wanted to share with you in my new year’s post. I wanted to do a recap of my favorite things of 2015, and share some writing updates for 2016. But the Holy Spirit has been nudging me to write this post for days. The chip incident gave me the final push.
And I’m guessing it’s because there is someone reading this who needs to know they aren’t alone. Someone who also deals with fear – real or imagined – and can’t shake it. I know firsthand how lonely this journey can be. No one wants to admit that they deal with fear or panic attacks. It can feel very shameful. But it’s not. It’s life. It’s my journey. And maybe yours too.
But there is hope. God has taken my fear from me before, and he can do it again. I have no doubt that by the next time I do a new year’s post I will be that woman of peace I so desire to be. God is faithful. That much I know. But I also know that it will be a daily struggle for me.
Already, I’ve been convicted about my googling. So no more! When I feel like googling, I will read a bible verse instead, or belt out a worship tune, or simply say, “Jesus.” Because I know that if all I can muster is a whisper, he will come running.
And I know there will be days when I will fall. Days when I will feel fear or anxiety. But that’s okay too. God has grace for me, and therefore I will have grace for me too. I will remind myself that it’s okay to be weak, because in my weakness he is strong.
I will lean on Him. I will trust in Him. I will abide in Him.
And He will give me peace.