Sound asleep in a hotel room, I suddenly awoke in a state of panic. Feeling trapped, I realized there was no window to open so I could breathe in some fresh air, nor could I exit the building in the middle of the night without waking the others in the room. What was happening to me?
I was with my daughter, a friend and her daughter at a cheer competition. This was the second episode of panic I had encountered that weekend.
As we arrived for the competition, we had to find a park. We entered a parking garage. Driving through the maze of the tomb-like structure, I noticed it was totally enclosed. No sunlight peeking through anywhere. Trying to navigate a garage I was unfamiliar with, I began to panic. There were no parks as we slowly crept around each bend, climbing higher and higher. I rolled down my window thinking if I could just get some fresh air, I would be fine. I began to feel more anxious because without being able to see out there was no fresh air to breathe in. I kept driving and held it together until eventually we reached the exit. Finally, I could breathe, and I exhaled a deep sigh of relief.
Anxious thoughts are not from God. They are from the evil one who wants us to panic, to give into a chaotic state of mind. The enemy wants us to forget Who we belong to and Who is in control.
I'm definitely claustrophobic. I don't like tight spaces, being held down, or being in any situation where I feel there's no escape. But who does? Bottom line? I don't like not being in control.
I've racked my brain as to why panic became my go-to for a season. I always felt safe growing up. The first time I remember feeling this way, I had not even heard the term panic attack. I was in the delivery room on the operating table about to give birth to our second child by Cesarean. The nurses had placed heavy blankets on top of me to keep me warm and to keep my body from shaking. It wasn't long before I was telling them to get them off of me. I was so hot, and I thought I couldn't breathe. It was very scary.
The feeling of panic did not surface again until much later in life when my daughter was in the eighth grade and we were at the competition. I'm still not sure why these anxious thoughts began attacking me, but I can now empathize with people who suffer with anxiety. It's not anything I've dealt with on a regular basis, because it only lasted for a short season.
I learned through my season of dealing with anxious thoughts that they do not have to control me. I discovered the secret of how to make peace with them and how to send them on their way.
While lying in that hotel room trying not to freak out, God brought Psalm 23 to mind. I began to quote those treasured words I had hidden in my heart as a child. The calm that swept over me was amazing. My breathing settled back into a slow rhythm, and my heart slowed to a restful pace as I drifted off to sleep.
Meditating on God's truth causes the author of chaos and his lies to flee. I realized in that hotel room that claiming victory over my anxious thoughts was possible.
Last summer, I flew to Grand Rapids, Michigan for the Speak Up Conference - a conference for Christian writers and speakers. It was my first trip flying alone on a plane. The enemy was fighting hard to get me to panic, to feel trapped, but I was not having any part of his schemes. I prayed continuously and asked God to calm my anxious thoughts, to remind me often that I belong to Him, and that I had absolutely nothing to fear.
I actually enjoyed the flight. I never panicked, and I was not afraid. I gave thanks to the Lord for guarding and protecting my mind from the enemy.
If you struggle with anxious thoughts, the remedy is believing and clinging to the truth of what God's Word says about fear and being afraid. Then, when those moments of panic arrive on the doorstep of your mind, you are prepared to make peace and can send them immediately on their way, avoiding them any point of entry.
Here are some truths to get you started:
The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid (Psalm 27:1 ESV)?
The LORD is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him (Psalm 28:7).
You have kept count of my tossings; put my tears in your bottle. Are they not in your book? Then my enemies will turn back in the day when I call. This I know, that God is for me (Psalm 56:8-9).
In God, whose word I praise, in the LORD, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can man do to me (Psalm 56: 10-11)?
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:6-7).
And my favorite...
The Lord is our stronghold. To keep the enemy from gaining a foothold, we must make peace with our anxious thoughts by resting in the peace of God that surpasses all understanding.
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(Image by AllauddinYousafzai on Pixabay)