I'm about to get very real in this post.
I battle with panic attacks. I'm not sure when they began. I know I had moments of "foreshadowing" when I was a kid. I had a pretty secure life, so those times were few and far between.
One of the worst episodes was when I was a small child. We had gone camping in the Rockies. At one point, we planned to leave our camper/trailer behind for a day and drive to a different area. For some reason, that trailer was my security--home away from home, if you will. Leaving it there scared me. I curled up in the floor of the car (days before seatbelt laws) and refused to look out. My sisters tried everything they could think of, but I was not to be swayed. I wasn't okay again until we got back to the trailer that evening.
That's probably one of the most extreme examples from my childhood. I didn't really have major battles with this until I was an adult. Faced with the uncertainties of new jobs (especially after being fired for the first time) were especially daunting. As I've grown older, the "list" of things that set me off are numerous. And embarrassing.
After all, I've been a Christian most of my life. I should be at a place of peace and trust in God that allows nothing to penetrate it. Trials and even simple events of daily life should simply bounce off me, as I bask in the truths of God's provision. Right? Wrong.
It is a prison I long to escape. For someone who has never experienced the anxiety, sensation of not being able to breathe, heart-pounding, mind-racing, feeling-like-I'm-going-crazy world of panic attacks...well, it's hard to comprehend, I'm sure. To try to explain it is really difficult, and almost impossible. And the older I get, the harder it seems to battle.
But it cannot be oversimplified. "Just pray more, Joni." I have never prayed more than when I'm experiencing the overwhelming fears of a panic attack. "Read your Bible more." Okay. True. But that alone will not drive the anxiety away.
And the list goes on and on. Very well-meaning people who love me and only want to see me set free from this prison. But who really don't understand.
Is this simply a cross I must bear? I honestly don't know the answer. I do know that I serve a big God. I do know that I will not stop praying for Him to heal me. I do know that some day, whether here or in heaven, I will be set free from the chains that bind me in such gripping fear.
I don't know what chains you have to deal with, friend. Pray for me. And I'll pray for you.