This is a bit of a heavier post today. I actually wrote this for a friend’s blog a couple of years ago but have been revisiting it again lately. Now that my writing has improved (slightly), I thought I would edit and share on my own blog.
I think it began after the first of the Christchurch earthquakes. I had never experienced anything like that, it was always the kind of thing you saw happening in other countries on the news and thought “glad I don’t live there”. Once I had experienced a natural disaster for myself, it made me realise that terrible things can happen at any time, and to anyone, and this made me really fearful that something tragic would happen to me or to someone close to me. I started getting feelings like something bad was going to happen but when nothing did I would just forget about it until the next time this feeling came upon me… until it became more and more frequent and I would sometimes spend nearly a whole day worried and sure that someone close to me was about to die.
I didn’t tell anyone about the way I was feeling for quite a while because I felt as though they would think I was being ridiculous. I think I also knew somewhere at the back of my mind that I had anxiety and I didn’t want people to think I was crazy for having a mental disorder. Eventually, one day, this worrying escalated so much that I ended up having a panic attack. As I had had no experiences with panic attacks before, I had no idea what was happening, I felt light headed and dizzy. I couldn’t move my hands properly, and my stomach cramped up so much I couldn’t stand up straight. I felt as though I was having a stroke or dying.
After seeing a couple of doctors, I found out that I was, as I thought, suffering from anxiety. From here it seemed to get worse; there were times when I felt so anxious that I couldn’t even get the bus to uni by myself. I kept having panic attacks and spending the time when I wasn’t having them worrying about when another one would come along. Feeling so anxious and afraid all the time made me feel very low. I couldn’t understand why God would allow me, one of His children, to feel this awful. I felt alone, as though I was the only person who had ever experienced this, and because I felt this way I thought I must be going crazy. Most of all, I felt as though it was an impossibility that I could ever feel normal again. I wondered what the point in living was if it was this bad, and was the Kingdom of God even going to be worth it?
It took me a long time, but eventually I realised that I was, in effect, saying that the life God had given me wasn’t good enough. I wasn’t willing to accept the bad with the good. I expected everything to be perfect and was blaming God for the fact that it wasn’t. I desperately needed to change my focus. I was concentrating on all of the bad things in my life. Having severe anxiety was awful, but there was more to life than this trial. There were countless blessings that God had given me that I wasn’t paying attention to! He had provided people in my life to support me through the tough time. I had originally thought my family and friends would judge me for having anxiety but they were all so caring and did whatever they could to make things easier for me. My best friend would bus to uni with me when I was feeling too anxious to go alone, even though it was completely out of the way for her and took a good deal of time from her day.
God had also introduced me to other people suffering similar things to me so I no longer felt alone in what I was suffering. While I had been blaming God for causing me to suffer, He had actually been with me the whole time, showing nothing but love! Through man’s sin suffering entered the world. Through His love God has made a way of escape from death.
My attitude had been completely wrong. At some point during this time, I came across the following quote in Isaiah 45:9
‘One who argues with his creator is in grave danger, one who is like a mere shard among the other shards on the ground! The clay should not say to the potter, “What in the world are you doing? Your work lacks skill!”’
I had been questioning what God was doing, but who am I to question the Creator of the whole earth? Only God knows what is best so we just need to trust Him no matter how severe our trials may seem.
It became very clear that I needed to strengthen my vision of the Kingdom. It was with this joy before him that Christ was able to endure the cross. Because I hadn’t built up a firm vision of the Kingdom, my hope in that promise hadn’t been strong enough to help me see through the suffering. I now know how important it is to develop this.
I have also learnt how important it is to trust in God. He will care for all our needs and be with us through the toughest trials. God will bring us through to the other side, we just need to open our eyes to the good things He has done. I have also seen that I can do anything with God and Christ in my life. While I felt as though it was impossible for me to ever feel anxiety-free again, I now know that this was not the case at all, I can’t even tell you how much I have improved in the last couple of years with God’s help.
It’s so important to remember that one day, in the twinkling of an eye (1 Cor 15:52) all of our sorrows will all disappear! And that day could be today!