**Picking up from part one (remember the cold, dark room is in reference to the feeling I have in the midst of a panic attack or when depressions sets in).
So the cold, dark room…do you know what I am talking about? Do you have your own cold, dark room? I’m guessing you hate it there, just like I do. What about the warmth and the light? Have you experienced that? Or if you haven’t do you want to? Are you wondering what that is?
The warmth, the light…that is Jesus showing up as He always does. He knows what suffering feels and looks like. After all, he suffered like no other person ever has or ever will, and this is why He completely understands our bottom of the pit suffering. No matter how bad it is, He understands it. Remember, the whole world went dark after He was crucified. Isn’t it interesting that our suffering is often described as darkness….because it really is.
SO HOW DOES THIS ALL COME TOGETHER??
If you have had panic or anxiety attacks you know that after several minutes, they usually tend to die down; most panic attacks last no longer than 10 minutes, at least that’s what Google told me. And usually, at least for me, after this amount of time I start getting my breath back, my heart starts returning to its normal rhythm, my throat opens back up and I begin to feel calm come back into my presence, and I begin to feel I will survive.
If you research panic attacks, there is a medical explanation for the pattern of these attacks, how they begin, how they climax and how they end. I mean let’s just face it, there is a medical or scientific explanation for EVERYTHING.
What I’d like to suggest though, is even though I believe in medical science, I believe that the calming of our minds and beings in the midst of these chaotic attacks is more than our brain chemistry just coming back into balance. It’s more than neurological connections following a certain pattern or trajectory. I believe the calm that washes over me in these moments of despair is far greater than any medical phenomenon that will ever be explained.
Remember when I said in these moments I question why God won’t provide a way out??? Well here it is. The calm, the panic passing- THAT IS GOD. This is the way out. The warmth and the light…THAT IS GOD SHOWING UP.
WE OFTEN ONLY SEE THE OBVIOUS
What I have come to understand is that God shows up in SO many ways and in so many circumstances, but often we are completely oblivious to it. We are looking for the obvious things- for God to miraculously heal someone, to provide a job, to mend a relationship, but we’re not realizing that God is literally EVERYWHERE in our lives. We’re just not paying attention.
You see He IS the calm of my breath returning to normal. He IS the rhythm of my heart beating steady. He IS the realization that I have survived another attack and I’m going to be okay. He IS the reason I can lay down and go to sleep after I’ve literally just felt like I was going to die. He IS all of this. He IS the way out of all of our cold darkness, into the warm light no matter how dark it actually gets.
WHAT I NOW KNOW TO BE TRUE
Even though I still struggle at times and I don’t have this darkness completely beat, I’ve come to realize something. The fact that I suffer from panic, anxiety and depression does NOT define me. I am NOT a victim. Yes, this a part of me, but this is NOT who I am. I have come to realized that THIS statement is my TRUTH.
I’ve also come to realize that even if I suffer from this ugly stuff for the rest of my life, I am not alone in it. Jesus is with me in each moment and is literally carrying me through. Scripture tells us of this truth. In Hebrews 13:5 Jesus says, “I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you.” Matthew 28:20 says, “I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” This is a truth we MUST hold onto in the times of darkness. God truly loves us and protects us as our Father.
And I’ll take this a step further and say something you may have a hard time believing. I’ve realized that my panic attacks, and even my depression has brought me closer to God. I know that sounds far-fetched, but it is true. I can honestly say, I do not believe my faith and relationship with God would be where it’s at without these challenges. And I’ve come to not only be okay with these struggles, but also be grateful for them, for they are a great part of my journey and growing. We simply cannot grow if we don’t ever struggle.
And maybe you are reading this and you are silently suffering and thinking, “she’s crazy, I am miserable and I don’t feel close to God at all.” Or “good for her, but that’s not my story.” Or maybe you’re just thinking, “She’s just full of it!” Haha that’s okay!
Let me say I totally get this frame of thought because when we are in the thick of it, it’s often very hard to hear any form of positivity. But let me say something I know is so true. Even if you don’t think so, Jesus is right with you this very minute as you read these words that I have written.
He knows and feels you are hurting.
He knows you want it to be different.
He is just waiting on one thing.
He is waiting for you to truly open up your heart to him and surrender it ALL. To recognize you can’t do it without Him and nothing will save you, no amount of therapy, no medication, like He will. He doesn’t ask for much, but He does ask that we surrender.
Often it is in the lowest, darkest pit that we finally surrender. I know that’s when I did. It’s when we hit rock bottom, and I have, that God meets us. He meets us in the ugly and in the muck and the mire. Because we are there in the pit of our own misery and we don’t know how to get out, we are finally able to see His abundant glory and power to save us. We realize we are nothing without Him.
So I tell you all of this, not just to talk about the junk I deal and struggle with. I tell you because I am not defined by this anymore. Yes it’s part of me, but it is NOT who Molly Duncan is. I am a person who gets depressed sometimes, but I’m not a depressed person. I’m a person who has panic and anxiety, and sometimes it’s bad, but my true self and spirit is balanced and calm.
Me today, a happy work in progress.
And so are you. You are not defined by any of the things that have caused you to suffer, no matter what they are. Yes, they are apart of you, but they are NOT who you are.
So my take away from all of this?
First, identify your true self aside and apart from the things you struggle with. You are not defined by them.
Secondly, get okay with talking about the inner battles you fight. There is no shame in this. We are all amazing, strong and beautiful souls and your struggles only have the potential to make you even more so. Find someone who you can trust and open up to.
And finally, realize that Jesus is already working in and with you. Open your awareness to all of the little saving graces He gives us each day, because if you start to see him in the calm of your breath, in the steady rhythm of your heart, you’ll begin to see him in even bigger ways.
Our struggles are real, but so is God, and His power is greater.
“The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble, and He knows those who take refuge in Him.” (Nahum 1:7)