Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Day 29: Fear of the Unknown--Oh Those Dreaded Panic Attacks

When the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, "It is a ghost!" And they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying,
"Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid." 
Matthew 14: 26-27
DAY 29:  Fear of the Unknown
I was rushed to the ER.  I was only in 4th grade, and I had my first panic attack.  Why?  Because I was so worried that I didn't know who my 5th grade teacher was going to be.
My 5th Grade School Picture
There was always some comfort in knowing who my teacher was going to be the next year.  There was always some comfort in knowing that my big brother had already had one of the teachers and at least knew the other one.  At that time, both of the 5th grade teachers were going to retire, so I had none of the comforts of going to the next grade. 
I loved my 4th grade teacher, Mrs. Crawford, and I had enough anxiety about leaving her and going to the next grade the way it was, but when I had no idea who my next teacher was going to be...not a name...not a face...I knew nothing!  I panicked!  Was it going to be a man?  Was it going to be a woman?  Would they be nice?  Would they be strict?  Would they be young?  Would they be old?  Would they like me? 
My dear 4th Grade Teacher, Mrs. Crawford
It was just too much for a 4th grader's emotions to handle.  The fear of the unknown overwhelmed me.  I remember the night like it was yesterday...
I was sitting on the couch watching TV.  I was always thinking about who my teacher was going to be.  It was always in the back of my mind.  My breathing started to get a little faster...and chest started heart hurt...I started crying...I had no idea what was happening.  My breathing began to become so rapid that I couldn't talk...I thought I was going to die. 
My parents came running in.  I couldn't tell them anything except through my panicked breathing and crying..."I.............can't...............breathe!!!"
Mom grabbed a bucket in case I threw up and they rushed me to the ER.  Once we got there, the doctors took me back into a room, hooked me up to all kinds of monitors.  Once they were able to calm me down, they asked my parents to step out which made me start to panic again!  They were asking me all kinds of questions like "Are you afraid of your parents?"  "Do your parents hurt you in any way?"  They also checked my body for bruises and such. 
I remember being puzzled by those questions, answering "No", and then immediately requesting that they bring my parents back in there with me. 
It was officially a panic attack.  I know it's so silly to panic over not knowing who my teacher was going to be, but clearly I struggle with the fear of the unknown.  Sadly, this was not my last, but because it was my first, it is my most memorable.  I've had these panic attacks many other times throughout my life because of the fear of the unknown--gymnastic meets, traveling without my parents to France, struggling with infertility, having a C-Section, becoming a mom, and many more.    
The unknown...I can't stand it.  That's where faith comes in. 
I love when Jesus is walking on the water and the disciples were filled with fear.  Jesus tells them not to be afraid.  He reassures them to have courage and that He was there. 
The story continues...

Then Peter called to him, “Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water.”
“Yes, come,” Jesus said.
So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus.  But when he saw the strong  wind and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink. “Save me, Lord!” he shouted.
Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him. “You have so little faith,” Jesus said. “Why did you doubt me?”
When they climbed back into the boat, the wind stopped.  Then the disciples worshiped him. “You really are the Son of God!” they exclaimed.

I can totally relate to this.  I'm always questioning God...asking Him if He's there...asking if He's the One really asking me to do something (especially if I don't want to do it).  Then when He tells me to do something...when He asks me to step out of the boat into the unknown, I panic at the thought of it.  Even when He reassures me and tells me to come or follow Him, I still panic at the unknown.  Then, if there is any sign of resistance in my path...any kind of struggle...any kind of difficulty, I panic...I doubt...I fear.  Quickly, I lose faith and sink. 
And God ALWAYS says to me, "Why did you doubt me?"
I don't know, God.  Is it too much to ask that every single moment of my life is planned out for me to see?  Is it too much to ask that I know everything that is going to happen well in advance?  Is it too much to ask that you write things ahead of time in my planner?  Here, you can use this blue pen since I use green for myself and red for my husband and black for the whole family. 
As you can see, I'm a planner.  I like to know what's ahead of me.  I like to know what to expect, and when I don't, I'm filled with fear. 
God constantly reminds me that not knowing and still believing is what faith is all about!  On my wall in our kitchen, I have this scripture from Hebrews 11:1 "Faith is being sure of what you hope for and certain of what you do not see." 
Faith has helped me fight off many recent panic attacks.  The more faith I have, the less I panic.  Honestly, it's still a battle, and I often have to remind myself to have less fear of the unknown and more faith in our known God!
Are you ready to let go of your fears of the unknown?  Are you ready to be filled with faith and step out into the boat of life? 
Lord, today, I give my fear of the unknown to You.  Father, I need Your faith because I doubt constantly.  I need Your wisdom and guidance in my life because I have no clue what I'm doing or where I'm going without You.  Help me to step out of the boat when You call on me.  Help me to have courage and know that You're there for me.  And when I sink...when I have fears...when I start to panic, I know You're always there to lift me up.  Thank you, Jesus, for loving us so much.  Father, shine Your light into my fear of the unknown, and help me to walk forward in confidence and obedience with You!  In Jesus' name.  Amen. 
Note to the Reader:  By the way, 5th grade was awesome!  I really enjoyed having Mr. Ronan as my teacher. 
God is so good and so faithful.  There is really never any need to panic, right?  Praying for all of us who struggle with panic and anxiety especially when it comes to the unknown.  Praying that when we feel those feelings of panic come on, God will lift us up and fill us with faith!  We don't have to know everything...we only have to know God!

Start from the beginning of this 31 Day Writing Challenge: 
31 Fears to Conquer Through Faith

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