I haven't talked about my anxiety attacks for a while, but I'm still having them, and with seemingly increasing frequency. We have no idea why, or what God is trying to teach me. We know they're sort of par for the course for fibro gals, but for me, they're always triggered by a thought. A horrific thought, yea verily.
But up 'til now, they've only been caused by viewable media. TV or movies. I've never had any trouble with books. I've always been able to read whatever I want, without any negative repercussion.
Until this week. I was re-reading some of my favorite books, the Zion Covenant by Bodie Thoene. Well, it's all about the persecution of the Jews in pre-WWII Nazi Germany. I made it almost to the end of the first book before the anxiety hit. And it wasn't just reading about history that got to me, but the subtle ways in which the Jews began to be persecuted in Germany in the 1930s are the subtle ways in which Christians are beginning to be persecuted in America today (and the way they've been persecuted in other countries for many years). So it seemed to me that I was not only reading history, but I was also reading about my own future. I know that people will (and do) hate me because I love Christ, and I know that I will probably eventually die for my faith. And if not me, then my children.
So...the first night was pretty bad. I take a Benadryl to fall asleep, but that first night, it didn't work. It still took me four hours to fall asleep, even with my Michael W. Smith Worship DVD in the background, focusing my thoughts and heart on God.
Usually, the first night is the worst. But this time, on the second day (yesterday) I was already feeling physically trembly again before dinner! Why? Well...I thought I would be okay reading about people dying in Dachau in the DAYtime. But I wasn't.
I called my mentor, Velma, in tears and asked her to pray with me. I explained that one of the reasons I felt so bad was because I really live a very cushy life compared to most of the rest of the world, and since my life is SO unrealistic, it will never last. Or something like that. And I'm sheltered, sheltered, sheltered, and it looks as if the scope of things I can handle without freaking out seems to be diminishing by the second! This is highly annoying!
On top of that, I felt guilty because I'm not starving in Africa, and because my boys have enough change saved between them to employ a third world laborer for nearly three months.
Velma said God put me here for a reason, and if I didn't feel like I was making a difference globally, I should start praying for a people group (provided, she pointed out, their hardships weren't relayed to me in a very graphic manner).
I said, "So...it's okay for me to be as spoiled as I am?"
She laughed, "Well, uh...it's true that suffering from a chronic illness like fibromyalgia isn't the same type of suffering that others in the world are experiencing. That's true. But you *are* suffering. And despite your suffering, you are doing what God wants you to do, in the place where He has put you."
Then she explained to me this thing about a circle. Inside the circle is the stuff I can control. Outside the circle is the stuff I can't control. It is my responsibility to be faithful with the stuff I can control (raising my two boys, making my home a haven, encouraging others, abiding in Christ, etc). It is also my responsibility to leave in God's hands the stuff I can't control (other people's attitudes, starving children in China, the persecuted church, etc).
She said if I try to do the stuff outside the circle, then I'm trying to do God's job. And if I'm not faithful to do the stuff inside the circle, then I'm trying to get God to do *my* job.
Cool, huh? Makes total sense.
Well, usually the stuff that makes me anxious is stuff outside the circle. Things I need to leave in God's hands. Trust, trust, trust can be hard, hard, hard.
Armed with this information, I headed to over to the church to play the piano for a while. The first song was just what I needed to hear:
This is the day You've made, so I will lift my voice and give You praise
You are worthy
Lord, when You are glorified, my heart is satisfied to know
All praise and honor are Yours
The point was: THIS (my circumstances, my routines, my calling, my American life) is the day HE has made, and I will lift my voice and give Him praise for it.
After a lengthy private worship session, the final song had the other message God was speaking to me. It's a cry-to-God-for-help song:
Hide me now under Your wings
Shelter me within Your mighty hand
Find rest, my soul, in Christ alone
Know His power in quietness and trust
When the oceans rise and thunders roar
I will soar with You above the storm
Father, You are King over the flood
I will be still and know You are God
The message God spoke to me was this:
I dwell in the shelter of the Most High!
I abide in the shadow of the Almighty!
Oh. I forgot.
So last night (Night Two), after purchasing Advil PM during the day, I was able to fall asleep in peace.
So I thought I had made it to the end of the attack.
Then, this morning, I was helping James walk through a lego video game, and I read him something about having one lego kill another lego, and I felt bad for the poor, dying legos, and the adrenaline rushed all through me all over again!! At 9:30 in the morning!!!!
I headed for my pillow and curled up with my comforter, and Jeff came and prayed with me. I was able to nap for a few minutes, and then I watched a little TV. Then, irritated that I was wasting an entire day, and thinking about Velma's circle of things I can and can't control, I told myself that I was not a lego being killed by another lego, and I got up and did the dishes. And the laundry.
My book was calling out to me, but I ignored it. I was SO CLOSE to the end of the book, and I hate, hate, hate not finishing a book I'm reading. I *almost* picked it back up again, but even looking at the silly thing sent a rush of butterflies through my stomach.
I began to peruse my bookshelf for something else to read. Most of my favorite books are historical fiction, and most of them are about persecuted Jews. So a bookshelf very recently filled with spell-binding novels was suddenly off-limits! I couldn't even read Anne of Green Gables because Anne's son, Walter, goes off and dies in the war! Or Tom Sawyer because he gets lost in a cave!
There was only one place left to turn. One world to retreat to. One village I always feel safe in. One community that never gives me anxiety. One utopia within my utopia where I can fully immerse myself in the emotional pitfalls of fake people's lives and still sleep at night.
So with my sheepish tail between my sheepish legs, I now sheepishly confess that I have given up.
If you need me, I will be in Mitford.