God is in Control, Right?
Does the title of this post spark the memory of a song for you like it does for me? It brings me back to my childhood, listening to my mother croon the words Twila Paris made so popular: “God is in control. We believe that His children will not be forsaken. God is in control. We will choose to remember and never be shaken.”
Too bad I can’t seem to take these words to heart when I’m in the middle of a lack-of-control freak out. Once upon a time I never would have described myself as a control freak. I mean, I’ve got a typical Type A personality and am true to my birth order description, but I’m also generally pretty laid back. Aside from my teen years and the random drama of junior high and high school, I have always tried to stay neutral through the ups and downs of life (at least that’s how I remember it).
To Everything There is a Season
Friends, I am here to tell you how the tides have changed. Whether it is just that I’m getting older and losing that notion of invincibility, or the fact that I now am charged with the care and sustenance of four other lives, I don’t know. Maybe it’s too many consecutive years of stress, or perhaps a culmination of all of the above that sparked my intense need for control. Yet at thirty-one years old, I found myself winding through the mental and physical implications of panic attacks. I used to puzzle at the idea of fainting. I knew people who fainted for various reasons, but I never quite understood how a person could get to that place. Now I fully understand it. While I’ve never officially fainted, I’ve felt that feeling of “losing control” over my body enough times in the past year to last me a lifetime.
Finding the Pieces of the Puzzle, and Trying to Put Them Together
The most difficult part of this past year’s struggle has been figuring out what issues are actually related to a bodily problem and which issues are a result of the panic that has bubbled up inside of me. For me, my panic is set off by the fear of physical trouble. I’ve spent a fair amount of time analyzing my issues, and that alone has given me the ability to calm down most of the time.
However, I do have days where I can’t seem to kick the panic. It’s ever-present and sometimes encompassing. It tricks me into thinking that I’m having a heart problem, or a blood pressure problem, or that I might have a stroke. This alone makes me feel like I’m going crazy. This didn’t used to happen, why does it happen now? In reality I know the answer. A scary birth, my newborn being hospitalized, and the loss of a dear friend who also had young children seems to have triggered a type of control issues all its own.
Who Is in Control?
How can I control what’s going on inside my body? How can I ensure that my valves open and close at the right times? Or that my heart continues to beat to the right rhythm? Or that I don’t have a stroke at home in the middle of the day, leaving my children to fend for themselves? I can’t. Obviously, I absolutely have no control of those things. I can eat right, exercise, and get fresh air, but none of that guarantees I will carry on to see another day. Here, in this setting, God is truly the only one in control.
Joshua 1:9 says:
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.
This is one of the verses that sustains me when I need to calm my mind and refocus on the Lord. Here’s another of my favorites.
It turns out that worry and anxiety is not a new thing.
Turns out that the good Lord knew what kind of trials we might face, even those within our minds. Alongside all of my introspection, I have also taken time to really consider the mental struggle Jesus must have endured during His last days on the earth. Knowing that He would ultimately have to face not just death alone, but the persecution and hatred of people around Him. Jesus often went off alone to be in prayer. I have to wonder if many of His prayers were for mental strength. How easily He could have been consumed by the fear of his upcoming crucifixion! Fear of the pain and torture, fear of the hatred. Spending time with the Father would have been the only comfort for Jesus, and the same is true for me.
Do you struggle with panic and anxiety? I’d love to hear what helps you through it!