A familiar word. Unyielding and merciless, it demands your attention. Powerful enough to shallow your breathing, disrupt your thinking, and leave you frozen, unable to escape the lies of perceived threats. Panic Disorder is one of the diagnoses written on multiple medical charts from the doctors and therapists I have seen. Rightfully so…I was having panic attacks almost every day and it caused me not to leave my house most days. When I did leave, it was to go to one of two places that I had deemed safe enough to endure…therapy or church.
I have not had a panic attack since I integrated, but I do remember the overwhelming fear that brought destruction to my life and relationships. It is a big part of what drives me to do what I do today. It wants to burst out of me that as powerful as panic is, there is a bigger power that can overcome, heal, and restore everything that panic has stolen.
There is a better way, a healer, a hope that I knew about my entire life. I grew up in church and heard all these things, that God loves me, I have a sound mind, that He is a God of order and not chaos, that He died for me, and that He had a good plan for my future. But when you are so broken that being panicked is consuming your life, those are all just words to you. They ARE truth, but they sound like a truth that applies to everyone else and you just can’t quite grasp it enough for it to work in your own life. I know! I’ve been there!
People meant well. They said things with the best of intentions and their heart really wanted to see me get free but no matter what they said, it didn’t break through the walls around my heart. I was too fearful to believe it could be true. Why? Because I did not feel loved. I wanted to be well. I did everything I knew to do to get better. I was really good at taking suggestions, reading self-help books, and hoping for a miracle. I had great faith, I knew that I knew the truth but I couldn’t figure out how to make it real in my own life.
There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love. 1 John 4:18
Here’s what I learned. None of this was working because it’s perfect love that casts out fear. Before I could heal, I had to experience love. This is the reason we are called to be Christ’s hands and feet. He needs us to allow Him to love broken people through us. Only then does all the well-meaning words of encouragement start to make sense and one brick at a time, the walls start to come down. It’s in love, that all the scriptures you can’t quite connect with suddenly become the bread of life and living water to nourish your soul and bring true healing.
I am so grateful for the people who have shown me God’s love and taught me how to show love to others. Nothing will change a person more than loving them with God’s love.
Look at the people around you, who do you see that needs to be loved?
In the words of my former pastor, LOVE LOUD.