When I was a little girl, I started having panic attacks associated with death. I had been raised with a general belief in God, but there was little practical reinforcement; mostly just thinly-veiled Catholic scare tactics. Growing up in a household where lots of stories of death and violence were shared by my police officer father, this little girl’s heart also worried. A lot. (More scare tactics?)
I remember one time in particular I was out to lunch with my grandmother. It was a beautiful sunny day, when out of blue, it hit me. An overwhelmingly dark shadow. Raw, unadulterated fear. I struggled to breathe, and it took everything I had not to run out into the street. All I could think about was being asleep forever. No heaven or hell or supernatural space. Just nothingness. It was personally terrifying.
As an adult, years after accepting Jesus as my Savior, I have still experienced these moments of anxiety. Never a trigger or warning; merely an unwelcome need to run away. It happened yesterday. Right in the mix of my lovely sunny morning, cup of joe and bible in my lap, I was once again swept away by fear.
I clung to the only tangible thing I could – my faith by experience.
In crisis, we are faced with the big questions. Crisis is where the rubber meets the road and we face off with our spiritual positioning. Honestly, though, it’s daily life that can be the most challenging to our faith. It can be boring, tedious. People can hurt us and children can frustrate. Jobs can wear and world news derail. Complacency settles in, and it is in the mundane, where many of us operate outside of faith, in our own strength, that we can most easily discover ourselves spiraling. We can lose sight of who we are and what we believe. We are challenged to buckle down and choose the position from which we will operate. Such positioning perhaps, is most vital in the day to day. Without consistently setting our sights to live intentionally, with an eternal perspective, the waves of fear (inadequacy, anger, disillusionment) can quickly overtake our hearts.
I was faced with a loss by death a few years ago that challenged my truest beliefs to their core. Looking back, my own fear of death was trumped by my faith in Christ and eternity. In that split second, when looking at the reality of it all, I discovered that my faith wasn’t a mere shadow (as are my anxiety attacks), but is something strong and tangible that I could hold on to.
Today, I choose to cling to my faith as though I were in a crisis. I choose to view each conversation and chore from a bird’s eye view – an eternal perspective. I will select my words as though they matter, and remember always that today is a gift. I will refuse to allow my routine to overwhelm me and silence unexpected fear with the faith I know I walk in. No situation, anxiety attack, or momentary loss of perspective will overshadow me today.
I will no longer wait for tragedy to allow an opportunity for me to be reminded of where I stand. I’m deciding to stand there…